Have you been dreaming about buying your first home? You’re not alone – that’s why they call homeownership the American Dream. But when you’re first getting started on your journey to homeownership you may feel a little daunted. There’s so much to know and so many preparations to make. That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself about the process. If you’re dreaming about buying a home this year, then this is where you should start.
Know where you stand
First things first – when you’re preparing to buy a home you need to know what you’re working with. We recommend you start by obtaining a copy of your credit report. Your credit history factors heavily into your ability to qualify for a mortgage. So you need to know what it says and to check it for errors. If you find any errors, then take the necessary steps to dispute them. The stronger your credit history, the more likely you are to qualify for a mortgage and get a good rate. If you have high debt or a low credit score, then start paying down that debt and making all your payments on time.
Know what you can afford
Now that you have a better picture of your financial situation, then it’s time to determine what you can afford. There are many online calculators available that can help you understand what your budget should be with your current finances. This will help you narrow your search so that you’re only looking at homes that you can afford. If you’re concerned about your budget, then you may consider looking for properties that need fixer uppers. Look for homes that only need minor repairs, like for instance, a simple roof repair which can be performed by a professional roofing company or a window replacement task which can be performed by residential architecture and custom window treatment specialists.
Know what you want
The next step of your journey to homeownership consists of defining what you want. You need to go beyond the idea of simply buying a home in a good neighborhood. What kind of home do you want? How many bedrooms do you need? Where will your kids attend school? What kinds of amenities would you like to have nearby? Make a list of those things you need in a home and those things that would be nice to have. That way, you’ll know when you’ve found a house that meets your needs and some of your wants.
Start saving money
The next step is to begin saving money. You’ll need money for your down payment, home insurance, as well as to cover closing costs and other fees associated with buying a home. The more you can save for your down payment, the better. Conventional loans typically require 20 percent of the purchase price as a down payment. However, there are also loans backed by the federal government that require a down payment of as little as 3.5 percent. Some offer home loans with no money down. Just be aware that if you pay less than 20 percent you’ll be on the hook for private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Work with a trusted professional
The best place to start when you’re beginning your home buying journey is to partner with a trusted real estate professional. Working with an expert in your local market can make the process much easier, and they can help educate you along the way. Contact us today to begin your journey to homeownership!