First Time Homebuyers
You've made the decision to make one of the largest investments you'll ever make in your life-buying your first home. You're excited, but at the same time anxious. Some of the questions you may be asking are: Will I be able to afford the home of my dreams? Do I have enough money for a down payment? What are short sales?
Rest assured, you are not alone. According to a National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, first-time homebuyers recently accounted for 40 percent of the homes purchased. The home buying process can be overwhelming, but if you go into it prepared, your first purchase can be a good experience. Here are some things to consider before making the plunge.
Getting a mortgage
Fear of being rejected for a home loan is one of the main concerns for first-time homebuyers. To lessen the stress, you may want to get pre-approved for a loan before looking at prospective homes. This will not only help you feel more confident, it will also give you an advantage when there are multiple offers for a specific home. The fact that your loan has already been approved is of great value to the seller: because it shortens the purchase process and there is less of a chance that the buyer will back out of the sale.
To begin your pre approval process click here.
The costs involved in the purchase of a home can be overwhelming to first-time buyers. However, with the help of a real estate professional, you can calculate out how much you will be able to pay each month in mortgage payments, and from there, what prospective homes offer a feasible payment plan.
The down-payment amount varies depending on the value of the home you choose and your mortgage lender. And in some cases, first-time home buyers can purchase a home with no money down. Although it varies from state to state, most offer government-funded programs for first-time buyers that help people buy a home with no down-payment. Your Prudential Georgia Realty agent will be able to explain the different options available to you.
First-time buyers often forget to consider the closing costs when making an offer on a home. Paying closing fees from 3-7 percent of the home sale amount is not unusual. Add that to the down-payment and you'll have quite a sum to raise before the final papers can be signed. However, a smart first-time buyer takes this into account before making an offer, and with some professional help, the costs can be estimated in advance.
Don't feel pressured into making an offer on the first home you see. This is a common mistake of many first-time homebuyers. Make sure you view different homes to get a feel for the marketplace. When you do decide on a home to make a bid on, work with your real estate professional to get all of your questions answered first before making an offer. But don't wait too long to make an offer. The longer you wait, the greater the chance other prospective buyers may place offers, making it harder for you to negotiate a good deal.
Condition of the Home
Buying a "problem" home is another fear of first-timers. A home that needs major repairs can become a costly venture. And, unless the asking price is adjusted to reflect the hidden repairs needed, chances are the home is not worth as much as the seller is asking for it. To avoid unfortunate surprises, your real estate professional may advise you to hire a home inspector before making a serious offer. That way, you know what you are getting into.
Above all, remember that there are no silly questions. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with every aspect of the transaction. Your Prudential One real estate professional can be an invaluable asset in helping you make educated decisions so that your first-home purchase is a rewarding experience.
STEPS TO BUYING A HOME
1. HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M READY TO BUY A HOME?
You can find out by asking yourself some questions:
Do I have a steady source of income (usually a job)? Have I been employed on a regular basis for the last 2-3 years? Is my current income reliable?
Do I have a good record of paying my bills?
Do I have few outstanding long-term debts, like car payments?
Do I have money saved for a down payment?
Do I have the ability to pay a mortgage every month, plus additional costs?
If you can answer "yes" to these questions, you are probably ready to buy your own home.
2. HOW DO I BEGIN THE PROCESS OF BUYING A HOME?
Start by thinking about your situation. Are you ready to buy a home? How much can you afford in a monthly mortgage payment (see Question 4 for help)? How much space do you need? What areas of town do you like? After you answer these questions, make a "To Do" list and start doing casual research. Talk to friends and family, drive through neighborhoods, and look in the "Homes" section of the newspaper.
3. HOW DOES PURCHASING A HOME COMPARE WITH RENTING?
The two don't really compare at all. The one advantage of renting is being generally free of most maintenance responsibilities. But by renting, you lose the chance to build equity, take advantage of tax benefits, and protect yourself against rent increases. Also, you may not be free to decorate without permission and may be at the mercy of the landlord for housing.
Owning a home has many benefits. When you make a mortgage payment, you are building equity. And that's an investment. Owning a home also qualifies you for tax breaks that assist you in dealing with your new financial responsibilities- like insurance, real estate taxes, and upkeep- which can be substantial. But given the freedom, stability, and security of owning your own home, they are worth it.
4. HOW DOES THE LENDER DECIDE THE MAXIMUM LOAN AMOUNT THAT CAN AFFORD?
The lender considers your debt-to-income ratio, which is a comparison of your gross (pre-tax) income to housing and non-housing expenses. Non-housing expenses include such long-term debts as car or student loan payments, alimony, or child support. According to the FHA,monthly mortgage payments should be no more than 29% of gross income, while the mortgage payment, combined with non-housing expenses, 4 should total no more than 41% of income. The lender also considers cash available for down payment and closing costs, credit history, etc. when determining your maximum loan amount.
5. HOW DO I SELECT THE RIGHT REAL ESTATE AGENT?
Start by asking family and friends if they can recommend an agent. Compile a list of several agents and talk to each before choosing one. Look for an agent who listens well and understands your needs, and whose judgment you trust. The ideal agent knows the local area well and has resources and contacts to help you in your search. Overall, you want to choose an agent that makes you feel comfortable and can provide all the knowledge and services you need.
6. HOW CAN I DETERMINE MY HOUSING NEEDS BEFORE I BEGIN THE SEARCH?
Your home should fit way you live, with spaces and features that appeal to the whole family. Before you begin looking at homes, make a list of your priorities - things like location and size. Should the house be close to certain schools? your job? to public transportation? How large should the house be? What type of lot do you prefer? What kinds of amenities are you looking for? Establish a set of minimum requirements and a 'wish list." Minimum requirements are things that a house must have for you to consider it, while a "wish list" covers things that you'd like to have but aren't essential.
FINDING YOUR HOME
7. WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN DECIDING ON A COMMUNITY?
Select a community that will allow you to best live your daily life. Many people choose communities based on schools. Do you want access to shopping and public transportation? Is access to local facilities like libraries and museums important to you? Or do you prefer the peace and quiet of a rural community? When you find places that you like, talk to people that live there. They know the most about the area and will be your future neighbors. More than anything, you want a neighborhood where you feel comfortable in.
For more information, please visit www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/buying/buyhm.cfm#getting
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