If a new home is on the 2023 wish list, now is a great time to start planning. Buying a home is a big decision, and being prepared will make your home search more successful. Follow these home-buying tips to make the process easier.
5 Tips for Buyers
1. Figure How Much House You Can Afford
Before you start shopping, figure out how much you can safely spend on a house. A variety of free online home affordability calculators can help set a price range based on your income, debt, down payment, credit score, and preferred neighborhood. NerdWallet and Zillow both have easy to use online calculators.
2. Check Your Credit Score
It is not uncommon to find errors on a credit report. If you find any errors, get them corrected immediately. Take the time to boost your credit score and pay down debts. This allows you to qualify for the best mortgage rate. Don’t make any large purchases before you close on your home. Lenders will typically pull your credit report one last time before closing to ensure there are no changes to your credit score.
3. Get Pre-Approved
Before you start house shopping, get pre-approved by a local and reputable mortgage lender. The approval significantly strengthens your offer when you find a home to purchase. Take time to evaluate mortgage options and decide which will be most advantageous to your long-term financial goals.
4. Interview Real Estate Agents
An experienced agent can give you the upper hand in a seller’s market, from assisting with a competitive offer to expediting your search. The right agent will help with the entire process, point out issues with properties, and negotiate better contract terms. You will likely spend a lot of time with your real estate agent, so make sure you choose someone easy to communicate with and whom you trust.
5. Vet Several Neighborhoods
When searching for a home, be mindful to consider your daily commute to work, schools, grocery stores, and other necessities. The location of a home can significantly impact your daily life and schedule. Once you’ve narrowed your focus to two or three neighborhoods, go and get a feel for what it might be like to live there. Are the homes tidy and well-maintained? Are the streets busy or quiet? Do you feel safe during the day and night? Drive through the area at different times during the day and evening. Whether you have children or not, research the local school system because it will impact the long-term value of your home.
6. Understand All of the Costs
Just because you can afford a mortgage doesn’t mean you afford the long-term costs associated with a particular home. One of the most important steps to buying a property is understanding the total cost of ownership. There are a lot of fees that come with a home purchase beyond the mortgage. Insurance, necessary repairs, property taxes, and homeowner association (HOA) fees should all be considered. Before buying a condo or house with a homeowner’s association, thoroughly read the HOA’s bylaws. The HOA’s bylaws should spell out how responsibilities are divided between the HOA and members of the community.
Today Is a Great Time to Start Your Home Search
Following these home-buying tips will make the process smoother and less stressful. Having an experienced local realtor on your side is essential. Whether you are buying or selling a home in St. Charles County, Sandra Meranda can help. Call 314-691-1320 to schedule a consultation.