You might have been thinking about buying a new house and being a homeowner for quite some time. According to the National Association of Realtors 2021, 27% of home buyers wanted to purchase a home to be a homeowner. But the actual process is often much more complicated than it would appear at first. There are many things to do when buying your own home, and they need your attention right now.
Before you start looking at houses, find out what their prices are like and what kind of financing options are available to you to avoid being surprised later on by a different reality than the one you expected. Here's everything you must do before buying a house.
Work Out a Budget
When you’re planning to buy a new house, it can be easy to overlook the cost of buying itself. However, you must know how much you can afford before you look at properties. It will help you avoid getting carried away with ideas and end up with more debt than your budget will allow.
To determine how much money you will need for a down payment, add up all your existing debts that are over two years old. Then take out 20% of this total and use this amount as your down payment when purchasing your first home. Now, calculate all the costs involved in buying a home, like mortgage payments, property taxes, and insurance, so that they don't come as surprises later on.
Make Sure Your Credit is in Order
If you want to buy a new house, your credit score will play a critical role in the mortgage application process. A good credit score ensures that you can borrow money from financial institutions at low rates of interest. Don't worry if you have never checked your credit score, because according to Experian, the average credit score was 714 in the US as of 2021.
Your lender will check your credit history before approving your mortgage application. If your current record shows that you have been making timely payments on all of your bills or loans, and if there are no negative marks like late payments or default notices against you, then chances are high that they will approve your loan request right away.
In case there has been a negative mark in the past few years (like a foreclosure), then lenders might not approve of their lending terms to you until they are certain that they can trust and rely on the borrower’s ability to pay back the loan amount with interests as per agreed schedule.
Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Now that you've done some research, it's time to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This process will give you an idea of how much house you can afford and help you find the right one. It may also help with negotiating the price of the house.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, contact at least three banks or lenders (credit unions are also an option). Each institution will have its own criteria for determining whether or not they'll work with you, so make sure to ask each lender about their requirements before submitting an application.
Search for Properties and Make Offers
You should start searching for properties online and make offers on the ones that you like. Make sure that you have an experienced real estate agent help you with this process to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Your agent can also advise how to negotiate with sellers and other agents and how much the final purchase price will be based on your offer vs those of others who are interested in buying the same property.
Choose a Home Inspector
Choosing the right inspector is crucial to ensuring you end up with a solid purchase. Before choosing an inspector, ensure that they are licensed and have experience in your area. So if you are planning to buy a house in St. Simons, for example, it would be best to hire a St. Simons home inspector.
It's critical in St. Simons to hire a home inspector because the median age of houses is 32 years, and houses these old might have an issue or two. Inspectors have undergone training on how to look for problems and also how to fix them, so if there is something wrong with your house, they will be able to detect it.
There are many different types of inspectors, but most fall into one of two categories, structural (foundation) or general (electrical). The type of inspection you need depends on what kind of issues you think your house might have. If it's just cosmetic things like painting, then getting a general home inspector will do the trick. However, if it's necessary for someone who specializes in electrical work because there has been some wire damage due to flooding caused by heavy rain last year, then by all means, please call one.
Do an Environmental Scan
Before you make an offer on a home, you need to do an environmental scan. An environmental scan will help you ensure that the area around the house is safe and that there are no hidden problems with the property or neighborhood. You can do this by talking to neighbors, researching public records, and reviewing any information that is available online about the property.
Consult your local government agencies so they can provide any information they have about current zoning laws, building codes, and other regulations regarding safety issues like flooding or landslides. They may also be able to provide documents related to previous renovations of your potential new house and any incidents involving hazardous materials within a certain distance from where you want to live.
We hope that you’re ready to start your house hunt with the help of the information provided in this article. You won’t be able to buy a home without knowing what you can afford, how much you need for a down payment, and more, but we hope that this guide has been helpful. As we said before, it can feel overwhelming at first. But don’t worry, as due diligence will help you find your dream home.