As a first-time homebuyer, you likely have so many questions racing around in your head about the process that it can be a bit overwhelming. Where should you look to buy a house, and how should you finance it? How can you be sure that you’re paying more for a house than it is worth? On the other hand, how can you avoid buying a bargain that is hiding numerous problems that will make home ownership a nightmare rather than a dream come true? What extra costs should you budget for when determining how much you can afford each month for a mortgage? Taking the time to do some research before you begin your search for a house is obviously a very good idea, but where do you begin?
Do online research
Real estate marketing has moved online in a big way. One of the premier real estate websites, Zillow, offers loads of information that you as a first-time homebuyer can tap into for help in finding a property, determining the sales price of similar properties or investigating local lenders. You can compare home prices, request a quote for a mortgage from one or several lenders, or investigate various neighborhoods in which you might want to live. Hundreds of other online resources can also provide answers to your questions. Foe example, if you search for NY based home, typing nyc home for sale on Google or other search engine you’ll get most valuable local resources.
Get input from family and friends
While online resources are great beginning points in your home search, you can get even more invaluable advice from family members, friends and coworkers who have bought certain types of home or have lived in specific neighborhoods. The stories friends tell of their experiences in buying a home, both good and bad, contain important information you can tap into to find the best home possible and avoid pitfalls. Friends can also share a neighborhood’s real estate history or provide advice on the best lenders to you should consider using.
Determine how much house you can afford
Calculating the price of the house you should be buying isn’t simply dividing its sale price by the number of months you plan to pay the mortgage. Mortgage interest, insurance and taxes are an important part of any calculation. You might find that you can afford the monthly payment but the closing costs put the property out of your financial reach. Online calculators can help you determine your monthly mortgage expenses as well as the estimated closing costs you’ll need to pay before you get the keys to your new home.
Find a lender
Before you even look at the first home on your list, get pre-approved for a home loan. After you’ve found the perfect house isn’t the time to find out you can’t qualify for a loan. In fact, many experts recommend talking with lenders several months before you start the search process so that you can clean up any financial problems that might disqualify you from getting a mortgage or a good interest rate. Also look at some less traditional lending options. Many first-time homeowners are choosing 15-year mortgages now over traditional 30-year loans, for example. You might find that you qualify for a government-backed mortgage that offers a lower interest rate. It’s worth your time to do the research on mortgages before you start your home search.
Consult a real estate agent
After you’ve explored all the other avenues available to you in the home-buying process, you should talk with a local real estate agent. Good agents are well-versed on all the details pertaining to the neighborhoods in which you’re interested. Again, ask friends, family members and co-workers for agent recommendations. You should interview several agents to discuss the home selection and purchasing process before you finally choose the agent who will help you realize your dream of buying your first home.
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