Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your life. It can be intimidating if you don’t know how to research the market, or if you are unsure of your finances. The good news is that with the right preparation and knowledge you can minimize the stress involved with such a major life decision and get the perfect home for you. Here are a few tips to guide you through the home buying process.
Understanding Your Financial Picture
Knowledge equals power, and nothing is more powerful than having a thorough understanding of your finances. Before you even begin your home search, you need to know how much money you bring in every single month. You also must tally up your monthly expenditures, including student loan debts and credit card payments. This will give you a good idea of how much you can afford to spend on mortgage payments.
The rule of thumb is to limit your mortgage payment to about a third of your monthly income. Also, factor in the other expenses that come with home ownership. These include property taxes, utilities, homeowner insurance and maintenance.
Get Pre-Approved For a Mortgage
Hunting for your new home is exciting, but don’t begin your search until you are pre-approved for a mortgage. Knowing how much your mortgage payments will be, and the interest on the loan will give you a better idea of the homes you can afford. The lender will wish to see documents like your W-2s, bank statements and proof of income. Since you already took the step of understanding your financial picture, this will be relatively painless.
Choosing The Perfect Home
After you are pre-approved for a mortgage, figure out the type of home you want that suits your budget and needs. This includes researching zip codes and neighborhoods. Parents will want to know what the local school system has to offer their child. Another thing to keep in mind is crime rates and how long your commute to and from work will be. Many home buyers will scope out a neighborhood to see how noisy it is, what traffic is like, and if the residents feel comfortable being outdoors.
Figure out the style of home you want to narrow your search and be sure it has the features and amenities you need. A great idea is to make a list of what you are looking for in a home along with your budget and give that information to your realtor. This will make the house hunting process much easier. After visiting numerous homes your memory can become fuzzy. Document every home you tour. Take pictures and write down the specifics of each house so you can refer back to them.
Following the advice above will make buying a home less stressful. Talk with a real estate professional today to find the home you’ve always wanted.