Articles and Advice
Maybe you're tired of paying rent. Maybe your old place is too small for your growing family. Maybe you've got your financial ducks in a row, and you're ready to go for it. Whatever the case may be, you're ready to own your own home—but where to begin?
The process of buying a house isn't really as intimidating as it often appears, though it can certainly be challenging. For a first-time homeowner, it can seem downright impossible, but we're here to tell you that it isn't. These easy tips will point the way toward buying a house you can call home for years to come.
Know What You Can Afford
Before you start looking at houses, it's important to get your finances in order. That means evaluating your current income, expenses, and debts to determine how much house you can really afford. It's important to be honest with yourself and arrive at a realistic maximum price tag.
Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage
Depending on your financial situation, you have a lot of different options when it comes to home loans. Talk with multiple lenders, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Shop around until you figure out the right type of loan for you, and get pre-approved if you can.
Pre-approval for a mortgage will give you a fairly solid idea of how much a lender will be able to offer you, which is crucial for finding a house within your budget. It also shows home sellers that you are serious about buying. The pre-approval process is usually pretty straightforward and involves supplying your lender with financial documents, including proof of employment, proof of income, proof of residence, tax documents, bank account information, and credit history.
Find the Right Agent
Having a skilled, knowledgeable real estate agent in your corner takes a lot of the stress out of buying a house. A good buyer's agent can offer helpful info on homes and neighborhoods, familiarity with the area you plan to move to, as well as honed negotiation skills and in-depth knowledge of the home buying process. It also takes away a lot of the stress that comes with going it alone.
Go House Shopping
Once you have your finances in order, your pre-approval in hand, and your agent working hard on your behalf, it's time to get to the fun part — looking for your dream home. Leave no stone unturned. Browse online listings, check the local papers, and visit open houses.
But before you start looking at homes in person, it's important to understand what you need. Make a checklist that includes all of your "must-haves," "like-to-haves," and "dream features" that you can use to evaluate each house you visit. This will help you avoid the common pitfall of falling in love with a house that isn't really right for you. Once you find the one, talk to your agent about making an offer.