10 things to know before you buy a home
If you are planning to buy a new home, here are some helpful tips to make sure you’re prepared.
Find out what you can afford – Plan to spend no more than 28 percent of your gross (pretax) income on your total mortgage payment. (Multiply your annual gross income by .28 and divide the total by 12 to get an estimate of the maximum you should spend.)
Save for your down payment – The down payment is the amount of cash required to be brought to closing (the day you purchase your house) and typically ranges from 3 to 20 percent of the purchase price.
Keep your credit on track – A higher credit score will get you a better rate, so follow the rules for maintaining good credit in the months leading up to your purchase.
Get prequalified and preapproved – You can start with a prequalification, as the process is simple and can be done over the phone. Once you’re serious about buying, you can get preapproved and request a letter stating the amount of your preapproval.
Choose a lender – You may want to shop around. Remember, a credit union may have lower rates and special loan products.
Work with a real estate agent – Working with a real estate agent is a good idea, especially for first-time homebuyers. The buyer typically doesn’t cover the cost of the agent; their commission is taken out of the seller’s proceeds. However, make sure to confirm this before selecting your agent.
Get a homeowner’s insurance quote – You can quickly get a homeowner’s insurance quote before you make an offer on your home, which will give you a more accurate monthly payment estimate.
Get to know the neighborhood – Visit the home at least once during the day and once after dark before making an offer. You may notice different things about the house and neighborhood at night.
Take inventory before you make an offer – Identify any projects you will need to complete immediately. For example, does each room have overhead lights, window treatments, ample outlets and modern conveniences? The costs of any added necessary projects can add up quickly.
Buy your home and keep saving – Unexpected expenses will arise as a homeowner, so start building a home improvement fund. By saving a small amount each month, you’ll be prepared for anything.
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