Purchasing a home is a complicated and time-consuming process, and staying on track is important. Proper planning will make the process go more smoothly and ensure that you end up with the best house possible. Putting in some work before you make an offer can also save you some serious cash. Here are 10 of the most important steps to take before you purchase a new home.
1. Sell Your Current Home First
If you already own a house, consider selling it or renting it out before looking for a new one. Doing so will save you the trouble of making two complex transactions at once. Selling before you buy will also make it easier to determine an appropriate amount for your down payment.
2. Find an Agent
Even experienced home buyers can benefit from the services of a professional real estate agent. Agents have access to information on neighborhoods and other industry buzz that can help you find the best home possible. They can also navigate the tricky negotiations process to get you a low price with plenty of perks. A great agent has attended a reputable real estate school and understands the in’s and outs of most deals.
3. Decide What You Want in a Home
People purchase homes for a wide variety of reasons. Figuring out your family’s specific priorities will help you to narrow down your search by eliminating homes that fail to meet all of your requirements.
4. Check Your Credit History
Obtain a copy of your credit history as soon as possible, especially if you plan on getting a mortgage. If there are any dings or errors in your credit report, try to clean it up as much as you can before you start the mortgage process.
5. Find a Lender
When seeking a mortgage, compare the rates of different lenders and keep an eye out for programs that cater to your specific situation. Focus on finding a mortgage program with low interest rates and lender fees.
6. Pre-Qualify for a Mortgage
To make an offer on a home, you will first need a pre-qualification letter from a lender proving that you can afford the mortgage. The pre-qualification process involves a cursory review of your financial situation. Pre-approval is much more extensive and provides a better estimate of your financial capabilities. Pre-approved buyers are generally preferred over pre-qualified buyers.
7. Save Money for a Down Payment
Although the Federal Housing Administration allows payments as low as 3.5 percent, try to make a down payment of at least 20 percent of a home’s contract sale price. A higher down payment will lead to lower mortgage payments and may also reduce your interest rates.
8. Start Researching Neighborhoods
Before you consider buying a house, make sure you know as much as possible about the surrounding area. Search online for information like crime statistics and transportation options. Even if you do not have children, look for an area with good school districts as this will boost the value of your property.
9. Have the Home Inspected and Appraised
Hiring a professional home inspector is the best way to avoid costly repairs in the future. You will also need to determine the market value of the house and provide your lender with the information. Keep a copy of the appraisal for your records.
10. Purchase Homeowner’s Insurance
Most lenders will only finance your real estate transaction once the property is fully insured. Homeowner’s insurance is often expensive, especially in areas that are prone to natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. Make sure you shop around to find a good deal, and see if your car insurance company will let you add a home insurance plan at a discounted rate.