Making the decision to buy may seem more like a giant leap than a first step, but it doesn’t have to. The key is to do your homework and be prepared—whether you’re buying a home next year or next month. Determine what you can afford, consider the location and what you need in the home. If necessary, work with a lender or mortgage financing professional to determine your options including how much you will need for a down payment. A pre-qualification letter always expedites the contract process when you’re ready to make an offer.
If you want to purchase a home, you’ll need money to pay for it. And, most likely, you’ll need a mortgage. But despite what you may have heard, getting a loan may not require a perfect credit score or a huge down payment. However, it is helpful to get your finances in order before you start housing hunting or before you speak to a lender.
Here are some important steps to help you evaluate just how financially ready you may be to purchase.
- Determine what’s affordable
- Understand your credit
- Review your finances
- Save for a down payment
Understand what you can afford. If you want to buy a home, you may need a mortgage to finance the purchase. But how much mortgage do you need? Take a close look at your budget to see how much you’re spending each month on housing and what’s affordable for you (i.e., can you spend more, less, need to stay the same?) Don’t forget, you’ll also need to budget for other expenses to maintain the home as well as general homeownership costs—and these may be not be in your current budget if you are renting.
To help, use these handy tools to estimate your affordability and potential mortgage costs (mortgage payment, down payment, interest, etc.):
You’re ready to start your house hunting. Sounds easy enough… but… there are a few things to do before you get started, such as: finding the right resources, prioritizing your wants and needs, scouting locations, etc.
When it comes to finding a home, you’ll want to:
- Find an agent
- List your requirements (needs and wants)
- Research locations (neighborhood/community)
- Start searching
- Find a home
- Make an offer
These steps may not always follow a particular order, but one step may influence another. For example, you may choose a real estate agent that specializes in a particular area you want to live in. Or your needs and wants may determine a certain type of home only available in a specific location.
A knowledgeable and experienced real estate professional can add real value to your search. They’re knowledgeable about particular communities and market prices, and will provide advice and support throughout the process including contract negotiations, financing, home inspections and closing.
Not all agents may fill the same role — some may work exclusively with buyers; some may only focus on selling properties; and some may play a different role based on the property. Here’s the typical breakdown:
Buyer’s (or Selling) Agent: works with the buyer to find a home and make an offer and represents the buyer in the home buying process. You work with a buyer’s agent when purchasing a home.
Listing Agent: works with the homeowner to list and market the home for sale, and represents the seller in the home buying process.
Once you’ve determined if you’re financially prepared and your lifestyle is ready for a home, you’re ready to start the next step of your home buying journey.
When you’re ready, begin your search here.
“I want to sell my house, but where do I start?”
Perhaps you’re thinking about selling your home because you need more space, you’re ready to downsize, or you’re relocating for school or employment reasons. Whatever your reason, it’s important to be prepared for the sale process.
The following 10 steps compile several of the best tips for selling your home.
- Identify your motivation for selling.
- Research the best time to sell in your area.
- Commit to a representation strategy.
- Complete home improvements.
- Price your home competitively.
- Stage your house to sell.
- Market your listing effectively.
- Watch for closing hurdles.
- Move out.
- Fulfill closing obligations.
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