The thought of buying your first home can be thrilling – and intimidating. Whether you’ve just started the homebuying journey or you’re in the middle of the process, we’ve got some tips to help you along the way. These tips can be a refresher if this isn’t your first time house-hunting as well.
- Down Payment
It may sound odd, but you need to start saving for a house down payment beforeyou start thinking about buying a house. Most experts recommend having a 20% down payment, but less is also okay. Just keep in mind, the more you have to put down, the less you’ll have to borrow. Plus, your monthly payments will be smaller. A smaller down payment may mean you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance.
- Take Control of Your Finances
Before thinking any further about mortgages, you’ll want to check your credit score. You’ll want to not only know your score, but look at your full report to see what may be negatively impacting your score. See any mistakes on your report? Now is the time to fix them. Contact the reporting agency to get errors put right. Also, put a halt on any big purchases. Those can have an impact on your credit as well. See what other factors may be affecting your score here.
- How Much Can You Afford?
This is the big question, isn’t it? It sets the tone for the rest of your house-hunting experience. Speak with a mortgage specialist to get prequalified for a mortgage to determine how much you can afford. However, just because you’re qualified for a certain amount doesn’t mean that’s what you can really afford. Do the math to see what your monthly payments would bebefore looking at houses.
- House Hunting
This is the fun yet stressful part! Be sure you work with an experienced buyer’s agent that knows the areas you’re interested in living. Once you start looking, remember life isn’t like HGTV. Houses may need work – it’s important to see beyond the clutter to see a home’s potential. You’re better off buying a home that needs a little cosmetic work and has a newer furnace, AC, hot water heater and roof. When searching, look for a home that will fit your future needs, not just your current ones. For example, you may have children in your future.
- Do Your House Homework
Found the perfect home? Before you make an offer, check out the neighborhood. How are the schools? (This affects home value as well as your kids’ education.) What are the crime statistics? Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day or days of the week to get a true impression of it.
- Making an Offer
If you were smart and home shopped within your budget, making an offer should be a smooth process. Work with your Realtor to check out comparable homes that have sold nearby recently to ensure you come up with the right price. You don’t make an offer on a home based on what you can afford, you make it based on what it’s actually worth. It’s that simple. Be sure to make the home sale contingent upon a home inspection. This will help give you leverage when making the offer and avoid any surprises once you sign on the bottom line.
- Closing Costs
You’ll want to factor closing costs into the overall number-crunching at the beginning of the house hunting process. Closing costs usually include a title search, title insurance, taxes, lender costs and some upfront housing expenses like homeowner’s insurance. Expect to pay about 2% to 5% of the purchase price of your home in closing costs. You can also ask the home seller to pay for some of the costs when negotiating the purchase price.
Still have homebuying questions? Don’t worry, we have mortgage specialists that can help! Click here to see what home loan options WWFCU has to offer or speak to a specialist today.