You want to bid rental life good-bye, but you don’t know where to begin. There are no magic tricks to finding that first home, just good old-fashioned hard work and perseverance. There are a few things you can do to ease your search.
Visit your banker
Before looking at properties or checkout home prices, figure out how much home you can afford. Start by contacting a banker or loan officer to learn approximately how much money you’re qualified to borrow. Generally, your mortgage payment (including insurance and taxes) can account for about 28 percent of your total income.
That loan amount plus the cash you have saved for a down payment (tough to do when you’re renting), adds up to the top-price house you can afford. Don’t forget to set aside some cash for closing costs – usually two to three percent of the home’s price. Now, have your loan officer determine the approximate monthly payment, including property tax and insurance estimates. Plug that payment into your monthly budget to be sure you can really afford it.
What kind of home do you want?
Buying a home requires some homework and self examination. Some questions a prospective purchaser should ask him or herself are: Do I want to do some fixing up, or do I prefer a home that’s “ready to go”? Do I want to live in or outside of town? What neighborhood do you prefer? Is acreage important to me, or the conveniences of being in town? Do I like neighbors close by? Are restrictive covenants a plus or a deterrent? How many bedrooms and baths are needed? What square footage is necessary? Desired? And, of course, what is my price range?
Choose a resourceful Realtor
Now that you know your budget and the type of home you would like to buy, find a real estate agent who will find what you want and who you feel comfortable working with. Ask friends, neighbors, and coworkers for recommendations. Keep in mind that it’s not necessary to contact the Realtor whose sign is in the yard. The local MLS (Multiple Listing Service) allows member offices to make appointments, show and write up offers on other Realtors’ listings. Ask the Realtor what is available that meets your needs. Be sure to discuss the subject of “agency” with the Realtor. Expect your real estate agent to keep close tabs on the market and to let you know as soon as a house that meets your needs goes up for sale. Developing a relationship with a Realtor as a “personal shopper” has substantial advantages for a buyer. Time is of the essence in today’s real estate market, where good houses are often grabbed right away. By establishing a relationship with a Realtor, that individual can watch for new listings on homes that meet your requirements. It’s a great way to save time and money, while finding a home with just the right amenities.
We take the confusion out of buying a home!
Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. It may take a lot of effort, but buying a home will most likely be worth all the trouble, and will be an important financial investment.