Finding the house of your dreams is a process that requires a lot of clarity, diligence, and patience. While it is possible for the first house you look at to be the ideal choice, it's a lot more likely you'll have to look at a dozen or more houses before finding the one that matches your requirements and feels like home.
Whether you're searching for your first home or your tenth, your decision will primarily be based on four factors: affordability, practicality, emotional appeal, and prevailing market conditions.
Affordability is a vital element in the mix because it's difficult to enjoy a beautiful new home if you're always stressed out about whether you'll be able to make the next mortgage payment! Developing a realistic and well thought-out budget is one of the first preliminary steps involved in launching a full-fledged search for your next home. In addition to being able to cover your current expenses and the cost of mortgage payments, you'll also want to ensure that there's a cushion in your budget for things like home maintenance, repairs, improvements, HOA fees (if applicable), property taxes, school taxes, and homeowner's insurance.
As far as practicality goes, your new home should -- at the very least -- live up to your basic needs and expectations. Ideally, all systems should work properly and be in good condition. Proximity to key locations, such as your job, shopping, and essential services can also have a direct impact on your quality of life. Long commutes, cramped quarters, or being buried by an avalanche of repair bills can definitely take some of the pleasure out of home ownership!
The majority of houses you'll look at will probably need some degree of updating, decorating, or repairs, but ideally, you'll want to tackle those projects over the next couple of years, rather than the immediate future! Having an experienced home inspector do a thorough inspection of the home you're interested in will help ensure you're not buying a home riddled with flaws, headaches waiting to happen, and other problems.
Although cost and practicality are vital aspects of buying a new home, you can't (and wouldn't want to) ignore factors such as aesthetics and emotional appeal. If you can't imagine you and your family living in and enjoying a house you're considering buying, it might be time to continue your search elsewhere! The house you ultimately choose should support your lifestyle, provide sufficient space for your family to grow and thrive, and be situated in a neighborhood in which you feel comfortable and safe.
To make the most of your available time and money, find an experienced real estate agent who's responsive to your needs and knowledgeable about the local real estate market. They will help you streamline your search, find houses that meet your criteria and negotiate the best possible price on your behalf.
If you plan to purchase a house in the foreseeable future, it generally is a good idea to plan ahead for all of your potential homebuying costs. That way, you can secure the funds you need to purchase your dream house.
Now, let's take a look at three costs that every homebuyer needs to consider during the property buying journey.
1. Credit Report
A lender likely will request a verified credit report before it provides you with a mortgage. The fee for a credit report usually is minimal, but it is important to note that this fee adds to the overall cost of purchasing a house.
Oftentimes, a homebuyer can get pre-approved for a mortgage and pay a credit report fee prior to conducting a house search. On the other hand, if a buyer wants to secure financing from a lender after he or she discovers the perfect house, the cost of a credit report may be incorporated into this individual's home closing costs.
2. Home Inspection
A property inspection is crucial, as it ensures a property expert can analyze a house and identify any underlying problems with it before a buyer finalizes his or her home purchase. As such, it is paramount to account for home inspection fees to ensure you have the funds available to hire an inspector who can perform an in-depth evaluation of a house.
The cost of a home inspection varies based on the size of a residence. Meanwhile, there is no need to forgo this evaluation. Because if you ignore a home inspection, you risk encountering costly, time-intensive problems after you buy a residence.
3. Pest or Mold Inspection
A pest or mold inspection is not a requirement if you purchase a new house. Conversely, if you purchase an older residence, it typically is beneficial to inspect it for pests and mold prior to finalizing your house purchase.
Pest or mold inspection costs vary based on a home's size and location. And if you feel a home may be susceptible to pests or mold, you should pay the necessary fees to conduct a pest or mold inspection. Otherwise, you could encounter home pests or mold that may cause major problems down the line.
As you prepare to pursue your dream residence, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. If you have a real estate agent at your side, you can receive comprehensive guidance as you navigate the homebuying journey.
In addition to teaching you about homebuying costs, a real estate agent is happy to educate you about all aspects of the housing market. Plus, a real estate agent will respond to your homebuying queries and help you make informed decisions as you search for your ideal residence.
When it comes to purchasing a house, it helps to budget accordingly. If you consider the aforementioned homebuying costs, you can craft a homebuying budget and speed up your quest to discover your dream house.
Anyone can buy a home – all it takes is hard work and diligence to evaluate your home financing options. Fortunately, we're here to help you streamline the process of finding the financing that you'll need to pay for a residence.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you determine how you will afford a house.
1. Take a Look at Your Current Financial Situation
Put together a monthly budget that outlines your current spending patterns. This will enable you to review how much you earn, what you're paying for housing and other pertinent financial information.
After an in-depth review of your current financial situation, you'll be better equipped than ever before to determine how much you can pay for a house. Then, you can create a homebuying budget to help you move closer to acquiring your dream residence.
2. Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
In all likelihood, a lender will receive your credit score to determine whether you are a viable candidate for a mortgage. If you request a copy of your credit report today, you can learn about your credit score and take steps to improve it before you apply for a mortgage.
The three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) provide one free copy of a credit report annually. If you submit a request for your credit report, you can gain unprecedented credit insights in no time at all.
Furthermore, if you find errors on a credit report, don't hesitate to contact the reporting bureau. This will enable you to fix any credit report mistakes prior to applying for a mortgage.
3. Reach Out to Local Lenders
Banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you and discuss a variety of mortgage options. These lenders are available in cities and towns nationwide and can teach you everything you need to know about home financing.
Ultimately, lenders can explain the home financing process and ensure you can avoid any potential pitfalls along the way. And if you ever have mortgage concerns or questions, lenders are available to respond to them at any time.
If you need extra help prior to kicking off a home search, you may want to contact a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional understands the ins and outs of purchasing a house and can help you plan accordingly.
Oftentimes, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying goals. This housing market professional then can ensure you won't have to break your budget to afford a terrific residence.
If you want to buy a home but have limited finances at your disposal, a real estate agent is happy to assist you. Or, if you are searching for a mortgage but don't know where to begin, a real estate agent can put you in touch with top lenders.
Work with a real estate agent, and you can improve your chances of acquiring a first-rate house at an affordable price.
Home prices may vary greatly throughout the country. But, buying a home is most likely the largest purchase you will make in your life.
Deciding just how much to spend on your home isn’t just a matter of numbers--it also depends on your lifestyle and long-term goals.
In today’s post, I’m going to give you a few ways you can help determine how much is a safe amount to spend on your home so that you’ll feel confident moving into the home buying process that you’re making the best decision for you and your family.
Mortgage as a percent of your income
Like most large purchases, buying a home typically isn’t dependent on the amount you have in the bank. Rather, it depends on several factors including your income, credit score, and the type of lifestyle you want to maintain.
One of the simplest ways to determine how much house you can afford is to figure out what percent of your monthly income your mortgage and insurance will be.
For most homeowners, a mortgage payment that is 25% of their income or less is ideal. So, if you earn $6,000 per month, you don’t want your monthly mortgage payment to exceed $1,500.
This “25% rule” does have one flaw, however, and that does not--and cannot--account for each individual’s financial circumstances.
Let’s say, for example, that you earn $6,000 per month, but that you have a large monthly car payment and are trying to aggressively pay off your student loans. You might find that paying another $1,500 toward a mortgage on top of your current bills is bringing you over budget, especially when combined with your other monthly expenses and retirement contributions.
Plan for homeowner expenses
Another caveat to determining how much to spend on a home is that the home itself will require a budget for maintenance. When renting an apartment, repairs are mostly the responsibility of the landlord or property manager.
Homeownership, on the other hand, requires you to make the repairs yourself or hire a professional. And, if you neglect these repairs, you might find that they cost you even more in the long run or drive down the value of your home.
Create a comprehensive budget
Throughout a given person’s life, they’ll experience raises, promotions, layoffs, medical expenses, childcare costs, and any other number of financial changes. While it isn’t possible to foresee all of the financial fluctuations you’ll experience in life, it is always helpful to have a comprehensive budget.
What do I mean by “comprehensive budget”? The goal of a good budget is to know where each dollar of your income is currently going and to have a plan for each cent that you make. This is a proactive approach to budgeting that will give you an exact number for the amount you can afford when it comes to a mortgage payment.
Within your budget, it’s vital to account for things like an emergency fund, retirement, savings for vacations, and so on.
If you take this due diligence, not only will you have a better sense of where your money goes, but you’ll also be confident in knowing exactly how much you can spend on a home.
Obtaining a home loan is a must for most homebuyers. However, there is a lot to think about to ensure a homebuyer can secure a loan that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.
Some of the key questions to consider about a home loan include:
1. What is a home loan's interest rate?
It is paramount to understand a home loan's interest rate, along with any associated loan fees. That way, a homebuyer will know exactly how much he or she will be paying over the life of a home loan.
If a homebuyer chooses a fixed-rate mortgage, he or she can lock in an interest rate for the duration of a home loan. This means a homebuyer will pay the same amount each month. And in many instances, a fixed-rate mortgage can be paid off early without penalty.
On the other hand, a homebuyer may prefer an adjustable-rate mortgage. With this type of mortgage, a homebuyer may receive a lower interest rate initially that rises after a set period of time.
Compare and contrast the different home loan options and their associated interest rates. By doing so, a homebuyer can make an informed home loan decision, one that serves him or her well both now and in the future.
2. Does a home loan require a minimum down payment?
Ask a lender about whether there is a minimum down payment required as part of a home loan agreement. Typically, a homebuyer will need to pay at least a small portion of a home's price to secure a home loan, and it certainly helps to have this information available before you start evaluating available residences.
In addition, it may be worthwhile to save as much money as possible prior to starting a home search. With money at your disposal, you may be better equipped than ever before to make a large down payment, thereby reducing the amount that you'll need for a home loan. Plus, you may even be able to boost your chances of getting a favorable home loan interest rate.
3. Will I need to provide legal documents to obtain a home loan?
Lenders will require you to provide proof of your income and assets, W-2 statements and other legal documents to finalize a home loan agreement. If you stay organized and have these documents readily available, you should have no trouble providing them to a lender as needed.
Overall, the home loan application process may vary from several weeks to many months. The time it takes to secure a home loan can be stressful, and if you need extra help along the way, it never hurts to reach out to a real estate agent.
With a real estate agent at your side, you can streamline the process of buying your dream home. This housing market professional can offer expert tips throughout the homebuying journey and ensure you can discover a great house at an affordable price.
Take the guesswork out of securing a home loan – consider the aforementioned questions, and you can move one step closer to getting the financing you need to obtain your ideal residence.