1. Improve Your Credit Score
Wondering how to improve your credit score? Sure, it’s easy to fall in love with the idea of buying a home. You’ve got it all planned out: a five-bedroom home in your favorite neighborhood with a manicured lawn and—why not?—a nice pool.
But if you’re going to get a mortgage (and let’s face it, most homebuyers do), you’ll likely need to improve your credit score, also called a FICO score—a simplified calculation of your history of paying back debts and making regular payments on loans. If you’re borrowing money to buy a home, lenders want to know you’ll pay them back in a timely manner, and a credit score is an easy estimate of those odds.
2. Save Money for a Down Payment and Closing Costs
When you’re wondering how to save money for a house, it can start to feel like you’ll never scrape together enough for a down payment.
Yeah, you already know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well, the same holds true for building a down payment. It takes time!
Still, as long as you grease the gears early (like now), you’ll barely notice you’re saving until—boom!—one day in the foreseeable future you’ll be sitting on a pile of money that could pave the way to homeownership.
3. How Much Can You Afford?
How much house can you afford? Knowing you want to buy a home is one thing; knowing how much of a mortgage payment you can handle is quite another. Too often, dreams and reality collide: You’re yearning for a four-bedroom Colonial, but given your income and debt owed to credit cards and beyond, the best monthly loan payment you can manage is for a two-bedroom bungalow in a sketchy party of town.
So how do you pinpoint a house where the monthly mortgage payment is financially within your reach, and one that won’t drive you deep into debt? Allow us to help you paint your payment profile picture and find that magic number.
4. Find a Real Estate Agent to Help Choose a Home, Mortgage and More
Wondering how to choose a Realtor®? Purchasing a new home takes some serious prep work—from cleaning up your credit score to amassing a down payment. But, hey, we’re just getting started! You also need a comrade in arms: a close ally to help steer you toward homes you’ll love more than life itself, find the best possible mortgage, and all in all help you through this emotionally and financially taxing process. That’s where a good real estate agent can make a world of difference.
5. Conduct a Virtual Tour That’s As Good As the Real Thing
If you’ve been thinking about buying a home for a while, you may have marked your calendar back in the winter to start your house hunt right about now. After all, spring typically kicks off the busiest home-buying period of the year. But what a difference a few months make!
“For buyers that are in typically lower-inventory, high-priced markets, there has never been a more opportune time to take advantage of favorable interest rates and less competition,” says Cara Ameer, an agent with Coldwell Banker who is licensed in California and Florida.
So if you are in a position to buy, take a look at our post that explains how to conduct a virtual house hunt and how to protect yourself if you do visit a home in person.
6. Make an Offer on a New House
We’ll get right down to it: Shopping for a home is fun. But once you find “The One,” things start to get real—real fast. Think of making an offer on a home as setting the roller coaster in motion: You might have sharp drops in emotion and slow, trudging climbs to success, but the ride won’t end until the car slows down and the safety bar is lifted. (OK, this metaphor is now officially over.)
You need to learn how to make the right offer, the one that will end with your receiving the keys to your new house. So check out some of these agent-approved negotiation tactics to make the process a whole lot less bumpy.
7. How the Mortgage Appraisal Process Can Impact Your Mortgage Payment
The home appraisal process is just a formality when buying real estate, right? You’ve found the house you love and put in a good offer, and it was accepted! It’s time to break out the Dom Pérignon White Gold? Sorry, not yet. If you’ve applied for a mortgage, your home-to-be still has to undergo a comprehensive appraisal of its worth—and an unfavorable home appraisal can kill a real estate deal. Yikes! It can be a nerve-racking ordeal, but it’s actually good for you.
8. Understand What New Buyers Need to Know About Home Inspections
A home inspection can be a terrifying process to newbie buyers: What if the house you adore has major problems hiding beneath that shiny new coat of paint? If you lie awake haunted by visions of mold or “foundation issues,” it’s time to take a deep breath. Here’s everything you need to know about home inspections, and how (as scary as they might seem) they exist to protect you from a very bad deal.
9. How to Get a Home Loan: Down Payments, PMI and Other Mortgage Info
Unless you’re one of the few lucky home buyers larded with old money, an inheritance from Great Aunt Sue, or a Zuckerberg-style salary, you’re going to need a mortgage. In the entire tortuous home buying process, it’s perhaps the most intimidating and seemingly daunting step: convincing a bank to hand you hundreds of thousands of dollars. How do you pull it off? And what strings are attached?
10. Down Payment Covered? There’s More…Closing Costs
If you’re gearing up to buy a home, one bitter pill you’ve got to swallow is that you don’t just have to pay for the house itself. You’ll also need to open your swiftly slimming wallet for a myriad of costs, fees, and taxes—the infamous closing costs. It’s a wide variety of fees that average 2% to 7% of the home’s purchase price. So on a $250,000 home, your closing costs would amount to anywhere from $5,000 to $17,500. Gulp!
After the stress of house hunting and the anxiety of the offer, you might feel like you can’t handle yet another hurdle. But closing costs are an inevitable part of the purchase process. Happily, there’s often wiggle room—at least on the costs that could be covered by the seller. Learn about what goes into your closing costs—and, even more important, how to whittle them down to size.
11. What to Look for on Your Final Walk-Through
You’re this close to owning a new home, you can almost taste it. The closing paperwork is prepared, your new digs passed the inspection, and—wonder of wonders—you’re even happy with your loan. Homeownership is just on the other side of the hill.
As long as the final walk-through goes all right.
OK, take a breath—there’s no need to panic. The vast majority of walk-throughs reveal no problems at all, and even if they do, most issues are easily fixed. Still, it can be an awkward, stressful process that can make you want to reach for the Xanax, especially for first-time buyers. Learn what to look for on your last trip through the house before the sellers hand over the keys. Your new keys!
12. You’ve Signed a Contract! What Now?
You slapped your John Hancock on the closing paperwork. You’re happy with your loan … well, as happy as you can be, considering the magnitude of the debt you just accepted. Stress dreams have mostly subsided, barring the occasional vision of some movers dropping your grandmother’s curio cabinet, shattering this priceless antique while they run off with your money.
Moving can be a pain in the you-know-what. That’s why we’ll share some expert tips and tricks to make the process as easy and pain-free possible.
Information from this blog can be found at realtor.com