Advice for First-Time Buyers
The first time you buy a home can be the most exciting and the most nerve-racking experience. In order to make the process a positive one, take this helpful advice for first-time buyers to heart. It can help you avoid many of the mistakes that first-time homebuyers make and can ensure that you buy the house that is right for you. Here is the general roadmap for happy house hunting!
Before you even begin to start saving properties and calling agents, you have to get your finances in order. That begins with cleaning up old debts, improving your credit score, and building up a healthy savings to put down a 20% down payment if at all possible. Get this done first.
At the very least, most banks will require 5% down. Just know that lenders will typically require you to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) if your down payment is less than 20%
Once you have your financial ducks in a row, it’s time to start preparing for the house hunt. The first step is actually going to a bank and getting pre-approved for a home loan.
Keep in mind that pre-approval and pre-qualification are two different things:
- Pre-Qualification: Only tells you how much you can afford for a home.
- Pre-Approval: Tells you how much the bank will guarantee to lend you for a home.
When you go to an open house with a pre-approval letter in hand, the seller knows that you are a serious buyer. Plus knowing exactly how much you are approved for can help you stay within your budget. When budgeting for your home purchase, don’t forget to include other costs that will arise like:
- Closing Costs
- And Other Fees
Know What You Are Looking For
Now comes the fun part for first-time homebuyers. Now you get to put together your wish list for the house that you really want. You will want to have two lists to work from. One list is your list of needs:
- Specific Number of Bedrooms
- Specific Number of Bathrooms
- Square Footage
- Location, Etc.
These are the things that you cannot budge on. These may include a lot of other things like specific school districts or distance from your place of employment. That is your primary list. Your second list is your wants; things that you would love to have but are not a deal-breaker if they are not included. Things like:
- Attic Bedroom
- Finished Basement
- Multi-Car Garage, Etc.
When is the Best Time to Sell Your Home?
You may have heard many different opinions about when the best time to sell your home is. Spring? Summer? Fall? The fact is there are several factors that determine when it’s a good time to put your home on the market. Mainly, there are four criteria that are pretty solid cues that it may be time to sell:
- Low Inventory
- Low Interest Rates
- Rising Home Prices
- And Warm Weather
Take a look at this list and then talk to Agent about listing your home.
When Inventory is Low
During the height of the housing collapse, buyers had their pick of the litter with an overabundance of homes for sale all across the country. It’s when inventory is low that sellers have the advantage. If you are one of only a few people looking to sell in your area, you could find yourself smack dab in the middle of a bidding war!
If you have been thinking about selling your home, ask your agent about the inventory in your area. What is the current rate of home sales where you live? How many foreclosures? Is demand high for new homes? If housing supply is limited, now may be the right time for you to sell.
When Interest Rates are Low
A drop in interest rates often spurs on-the- fence buyers to finally make their move. If you’ve been thinking of moving up or downsizing, you may want to put your home on the market soon so you can start your search for a new one and take advantage of low interest rates.
Depending on the type of mortgage you take out, you could lock in a very low interest rate. That could mean paying less than 5% interest on your new mortgage over the term of your loan.
That is excellent news considering that the interest paid on a 30-year mortgage is only second to the principal on your mortgage in terms of cost. Wouldn’t it be great if you could knock off several thousand dollars in interest over the life of your loan? Check with agent to see just how much you could save with a low interest rate.