First-Time Buyer Tips
Every homeowner has been a first-time buyer once in their life, so you're not alone. But buying a home is one of the largest purchases you'll make, so how do you know if you're ready to take that next big step? These 10 home-buying tips can help reduce the stress of buying your first home.
Renting vs. buying. If your job and family status are likely to be stable for the next few years, or you're planning on remaining in the same city, now may be a good time to consider buying. If you think you may need to look for work outside the area or want to have the flexibility to move on a whim, then put off homeownership for a while.
How's your credit? Your credit standing will affect the terms of your mortgage, so it's a good idea to try and strengthen your credit rating before applying for a loan. You can help do this by paying your bills on time, reducing your total debt load and avoiding any unnecessary inquiries to your report.
Pinch those pennies. Besides having to save for a down payment, other expenses such as closing costs, homeowners insurance, and more often seem to come out of the woodwork when you're purchasing a home. Most lenders will also want you to have a "reserve" money left in your savings account after you've covered all the costs. Frugality now will payoff later when you're enjoying your new abode.
Tax advantage. Mortgage interest and property taxes are generally deductible. So, you may be making a larger monthly payment than renting, but remember to take into consideration the amount you're saving in taxes. See your tax advisor for details.
Weigh your options. Are there any financial programs that may help you get into your first home sooner? Federal and state-backed loans may make it easier to qualify for a loan by offering programs with little or no money down.
Where do you stand? Pre-qualification or pre-approval of a loan will not only help you know how much home you will qualify for, but also will show owners you're serious about buying. Contact your bank or mortgage broker for procedures on either of these options. Just remember to limit the number of inquiries on your credit report by only authorizing credit checks with the one or two lenders you're serious about.
Location, location, location. Figure out what's essential to you, such as school district reputation, crime rates, convenient shopping areas, local parks or whether there are children in the neighborhood. Rank these qualities in order of importance. Focus only on neighborhoods that meet those criteria.
Know what you're getting into. Most offers made on a home sale include a professional home inspection. Before you sign on the dotted line, you should be confident about the condition of the home and the expenses you may incur as a result of purchasing that particular house.
Knowledge is power. Learn about the broker's role in your home buying process. Brokers and real estate agents are key players in home buying transactions and it pays to do a little research to make sure you're getting the best representation available.
Is a condominium the right choice for me? Depending on your tax bracket, a condominium may be an affordable option for you. Although the market for condominiums is unpredictable, it may be a good way to get into the real estate market. But timing is everything. Entering on a market upswing will help you gain equity for your next home, while buying on a downswing could mean you'll be in that home for a while.
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