Twenty Home Buying Tips to Get You Started

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]uying a home is going to be the biggest investment you have ever made. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming though. These 20 house buying tips will help you to get through the process without difficulty. They will also ensure you get the home you want without breaking your budget to make it happen.

#1 – Review your Credit

It is important that you find out what your credit score is before you start looking around for a home to buy. Review everything on your credit report for accuracy. If you notice any problems, now is the time to get them taken care of. It can take time to get them corrected as you will need to provide documentation to the credit reporting agencies.

If you are married, each of you will need to look through your credit reports. The person that has the best overall credit rating should be the main applicant on the loan. The other party should be the co-applicant. This will help with getting the loan approved and also with getting it approved at a the best possible interest rate.

#2 – Evaluate your Budget

Sit down and review your budget. Make a list of your required payments as well as your extra expenses. How much home can you afford monthly? You don’t want your budget to be too tight in order to get a home. You need to be able to put money into savings and you need to be able to have funds for unexpected expenses that come along. You may need to make a decision to cut back on extra expenses and to be more disciplined with your budget in order to afford the house you want.

#3 – Get Pre-Approved for your Loan

Take your time looking at interest rates and loan offers. There are a variety of loan types out there including those for first time homebuyers, those for veterans, and many other scenarios. When you find the right loan and the right lender, get pre-approved for your loan. This will help you to determine if you are able to qualify for a home loan at this time.

It will also help you to see how much money you qualify for with the loan. This is an important tip for buying a house. It ensures you aren’t wasting your time looking at homes that are out of your price range. Keep in mind though that the amount of the loan and the interest rate determine your payments. Even if a bank is able to lend you a given amount of money, refer back to your budget to make sure that you can afford what that payment will be.

Some consumers don’t think they can afford a home due to the down payment and the closing costs. However, there are programs that help with reducing the out of pocket cost involved. For example, the closing costs can be added into your loan. Some loans require far less down than others. Talk with your lender about what you can do because they will have the knowledge regarding various home loans that are available. Each of them has different qualifications but they can help you to sort through all of it to find the best fit for your circumstances.

#4 – Identify what you want in a Home

Make a list of things that you want your home to offer. Do you want a house with at least 2 bathrooms? How many bedrooms are you looking for? Do you really want a large kitchen with a separate dining room area? Do you want a nice backyard? Perhaps a 2 car garage is an essential selling point for you. The more you are able to identify what you want in a home, the easier it becomes to narrow down the possibilities.

#5 – Possible Locations

Do you have certain locations in mind when it comes to a house you wish to purchase? You may want to live within close proximity to your job. If your children are already in school, you may be interested in them attending a particular school district. The location combined with what you are looking for in a home are important to consider.

It is important to spend some time investigating various neighborhoods before you look at homes there. This can help you to eliminate areas where you may not be happy. If you have kids, you may not want to move into a neighborhood that is all adults. Explore your options to find what will be a very good fit.

#6 – Find a Terrific Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent that that listens to what you are looking for, that you feel free to communicate with, and who has experience is ideal. You need someone who is going to be an advocate for you. They should be finding you homes to consider that fit the location and the amenities that you want. They should also be looking for homes that fit your price range. When they put all these factors into place, then you know the homes they ask you to look at are excellent possibilities and not just a waste of your time.

#7 – Explore Homes

Depending on your schedule and where you currently live, it may not be possible to go walk through homes that fit your filters. With today’s technology, your real estate agent can email you photos or even a video of the place. Then you can plan to travel to those homes that really do grab your attention.

If you live locally to where you are looking for a home to buy, you can work with the real estate agent to go see the home in person. You can explore all it offers, the neighborhood, and more. When you find the home that is a great match for you, it will just feel right. Don’t be in a rush to decide on a home. Be patient, keep looking, and you will find it.

#8 – Inspection

Before you make an offer, find out about hiring an inspector to look around. They are experts and they can identify potential problems that you may not know about until it is too late. For example, they can review the foundation, the electrical wiring, and even check for problems with insects or rodents. The more in depth the inspection is, the better idea you will have about the real condition of the home you have your eyes on.

#9 – Make an Offer

When you are sure you have found the home that is right for you in terms of price, location, and what it offers, it is time to make an offer. Your real estate agent can help you with getting all of the paperwork done. You may consider offering less than the asking price to see if the seller will accept it. Worst case scenario is that they don’t accept it and you have to offer more. They may be firm on the asking price or come back with a counteroffer you can accept.

#10 – Property Lines and Taxes

What all does your property include? You never want to have disputes with neighbors about this after you move in. A map that has your overall location is very important. You also want to find out about the property taxes for the home. Are they current? How much do they run per year? It is important to be able to budget for them.

#11 – Background of the Home

It is a very good idea to do a background check on the home. It may bother you to reside in a home where someone died. There should be records of such deaths including those that were by natural causes and those that weren’t. Was the home ever involved in a drug bust? Some homes for example where meth was being made could be a health risk. Has the home ever had issues with lead paint, asbestos, mold, or other concerns? You can’t be too careful when it comes to doing a complete background investigation of the home.

#12 – Potential Costs

As a homeowner, you will be responsible for any costs. It is a good idea to look things over carefully. Do the faucets all run like they should and are they free of leaks? Don’t forget to check the toilets too! Is there good water pressure in the shower? How large is the hot water heater and how old is it? When was the furnace and air conditioning unit installed? Have they been regularly serviced? You don’t want to buy a home that has a huge potential for lots of additional costs.

#13 – Logic over Emotion

While you do want to fall in love with the home you are buying, don’t allow those emotions to get the best of you. Logic should prevail when it comes to the home. Don’t get caught up in bidding wars or other scenarios where you agree to pay more than you should because you just can’t stand the idea of losing the home.

While there may be some issues with a home you are looking at, be realistic about them. For example, do you hate the color of the carpet in the living room? If so, are you willing to pay to replace it? This is an easier fix than if you hate the entire layout of the kitchen for a home and you would have to completely remodel it.

#14 – Don’t Overlook the Little Things

You will be spending lots of time in the home you buy, so don’t overlook the little things. Go through it with a fine toothed comb. Are you going to have enough room in the living room for all of your furnishings? Will your washer and dryer fit well in the laundry room? Is there enough light that will come into the home or limited windows? How much storage space do you have in the closets? All of this is important so that your needs on a daily basis can be met in the home.

#15 – Survey the Neighborhood

When you go see a home during the day, you may think it is perfect. However, you should always check out the neighborhood at night! Are there lots of noises and parties taking place or is a quiet? Do the street lights work? Do people obey the posted speed limit signs or do they go too fast? By going to the neighborhood at different times and different days of the week, you will see plenty of things that can influence your decision to move there or not.

#16 – Avoid a Fixer Upper Unless you have Time and Money

On TV, they can make it look super easy to fix up a home and to make it look just the way you want it. In reality, home improvement projects can be time consuming and costly. If you have to hire someone to do them, that cost significantly increases. Yet you may already have a busy schedule so the prospect of adding in the work on your own isn’t a possibility.

While you can save money on a fixer upper, most people don’t have the time or money to make it what they want. If that is the case for you, then you should make sure you buy a home in very good condition that won’t require such attention from you.

#17 – Ask A Lot of Questions

Buying a home is a huge purchase, so you need to fully understand everything that is involved. Ask lots of questions so that you don’t get into a bind. Never make assumptions about what you see or what will be included. It is better to ask and to learn that information than to realize later you didn’t see it for what it truly was.

#18 – Buy what you can Resell

We never really know what the future will hold for us. There may come a time when you decide to sell your home. When you are buying, make sure you think about the resell of the home. Is it something that would appeal to other people?

#19 – Don’t be Pressured

Take all the time you need to make a decision on a home purchase. Don’t feel pressured by the seller, real estate agent, or even the lender. The seller may give the impression that other people want it so that can encourage you to make an offer before you are ready. Even though a real estate agent wants to help you, they have to sell a home to make money. The lender may have a date when your pre-approval expires. Don’t buy a home just because you don’t want to do the paperwork a second time.

#20 – Be Positive

Don’t let looking for a home get the best of you physically or mentally. Be positive when it comes to what you are after. Be realistic with what you hope for and willing to hold out for the home that fits your needs. Consider looking for that ideal home an adventure!