Thursday, March 17, 2022 / by Margie Wright
Budget Before You ShopYour finances need to be sorted out before anything else is done in the homebuying process. Finances first, house hunting second. You don't want to find a home that you absolutely love only to find out that your finances won't cover it. It's heartbreaking to go through that! That's why you should sort out the finances, get pre-approved, and figure out what is feasible with your budget first.
Saving money can be hard to do while renting an apartment. That doesn't mean all hope is lost, though. Investigate down payment assistance and first-time homebuyer programs. These programs offer a variety of loans, grants, and credits to help you buy your first home. This does likely mean that you'll be dealing with a mortgage, so it's important to meet with your bank to discuss interest rates and mortgages that you can afford.
Shop SmartFind a real estate agent to help you with the process (like me!). The internet can only help you so much when it comes to house hunting, and a trusted agent in the area you're wanting to buy in will know all the ins and outs of the area and the market. The market changes every day, so make sure that you're looking for homes that fit into your budget.
Visit open houses or do virtual tours of homes to get a feel for what you can compromise on and what is absolutely needed. Items that you originally thought you needed may instead become things that you're not super happy about having. The more informed you are, the easier it'll be to know what you want and how easily attainable it will be. Your real estate agent will also be able to tailor what they can find for you based on what you know you want and need.
Get Your Credit in CheckThe better your credit score, the lower your interest rate. Lenders offer the best loans and lowest rates to customers with excellent credit. Talk to a loan officer about how to increase your credit score and make sure that you're on the right track to getting the best chance possible with a mortgage and interest rates. Make sure you're up to date on your rent payments as well. That will help your credit as well and also decrease the chance of any additional obstacles popping up in your way.
Take the Inspection SeriouslyInspecting an apartment property and inspecting a home property may seem similar, but a home inspection is even more important. As a renter, you inspect the property to make sure appliances work, if there are holes in the walls, or other major problems such as drainage or mold problems. If you find major issues, the landlord or property manager handles the fixes.
When buying a house, you and your home inspector have the job of spotting everything from water damage to electrical problems. You want to take the time to inspect a home thoroughly. Having a quality home inspector will also help with finding all the little things you may not even think about. The general home inspection is always recommended, but you may need other special inspections such as a crawl space inspection or lead-based paint inspection depending on the details of the home. These inspections can help you avoid any unforeseen issues or costs down the road.
Factor in Additional CostsWhile renting an apartment, you don't normally have to worry about tracking the utility costs all the time. Often times, these are standard fixed costs that may even be lumped into the monthly payment. When you buy a home, keeping up with these costs is entirely your responsibility. Different areas will have different costs for utilities, so you need to factor in your options for those utilities as well.
On top of regular utility costs, you'll need to invest in regular maintenance for your and its systems. Property taxes are something to factor in as well since you pay these to the state or local governments based on the value of your home. Homeowners insurance may be another expense you factor in as most also lenders require that anyone taking out a home loan have homeowners insurance. Fire or flood insurance may be something you need to consider purchasing depending on your area's risk factors.