Searching for a new home can be one of the most exciting times of your life, but first you need to make sure you're prepared for the journey. This is one of the larger investments you'll make and it can be overwhelming at times.
Money is required - Start saving today because the home buying process includes more than the down payment and purchase price of your new home. Be prepared for an inspection and other out-of-pocket expenses in addition to closing costs.
Credit - Check your credit score months prior to shopping for your home. One of the first steps in qualifying for a mortgage loan is having a good FICO credit score. By checking early, you have the opportunity to clear up any errors or discrepancies that you are unaware of.
Talk to your banker - Find out how the process works including an idea of what your monthly mortgage payment might be. Be sure and ask how long it normally takes to complete the process and what type of mortgage options they offer in addition to the documentation you will need to gather for the loan application.
Budget - Create a budget and stick to it. Take a look at the amount of money you earn each month, minus your expenses and determine the amount you can easily afford for your new house payment. Keep in mind; you will need to set aside money for unexpected repairs or updates that may occur.
Determine your needs - Buying a home can be an emotional experience, but if you've already identified your needs the process will be easier. Several questions to ask yourself are: What school district do you want to live in? How many bedrooms do you need? How far am I willing to drive each day to work? Can I really take on a 'fixer-upper'? What's my style? Do I have room to expand? What's the difference between a WANT and a NEED? Remember, you can change the color of paint and carpet, but you can't change the layout of a home.
Shopping for your home - Realtors have the training necessary to make the process go by smoother and will assist with the offer process and providing tips of the trade they've learned over year of experience. They can arrange times for you to view properties once they know what your ideal home might be. Take your time, look at many homes, take notes and ask questions. Don't be afraid to take a second look at properties that are on your short list.
A few online sources to preview properties are: Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Zillow.com
Drive through the neighborhood and look for 'for sale' signs and either call the number or have your agent call for a personal showing.
How to look at Houses
Water...where it shouldn't be: Look for
Building lines that are not straight or true: Look for
Structural problems. Look for:
Utility systems problems. Look for:
Serious finish problems. Look for:
(Information courtesy of Realizing the American Dream * NeighborWorks America)