9 Steps to Buying Your First Home

You’ve made the decision: You’re ready to buy a house and experience all the joys and trials of homeownership. But now what? Buying a home is a complicated endeavor that many first-time buyers know little about. These nine steps walk you through the basic process of buying your first home and into the wonderful world of homeownership.

Improve Your Credit Score

The higher your credit score, the better the mortgage rate you’ll be offered. Check your FICO score and strategize how you can increase it before applying for a mortgage. A score of 760 or higher secures you the best mortgage rates, while 620 is about the lowest conventional lenders will accept. FHA loans are available to buyers with scores as low as 580.

Save Up

Mortgages allow buyers to spread out the costs of homeownership over many years, but there are still a lot of upfront costs when buying a home. In addition to a down payment of 3.5 percent to 20 percent, depending on your intended loan type, you’ll need to save money for closing costs (2 to 5 percent of a home’s purchase price) and a home repair emergency fund.

Determine What You Can Afford

The rule of thumb is to spend no more than 35 percent of your pre-tax income on housing, including your mortgage payment, property taxes, insurance, HOA payment, and other expenses. However, that rule doesn’t take all your household expenses into account, like existing debt payments and child care. To avoid buying a house you can’t afford, follow Money Under 30’s advice and spend no more than 25 percent of your after-tax income on housing.

Research Your Mortgage Options

Increasing your credit score isn’t the only thing you can do to secure a good mortgage rate. According to Consumers Advocate, different lenders may offer different mortgage rates, so it’s wise to shop around. Know which type of mortgage you’re looking for before meeting with lenders. Lenders vary in the programs they offer; if you’re buying with poor credit or a low down payment and plan to use a government-backed loan like an FHA, VA, or USDA loan, you’ll need to find lenders that offer those products.

Get Preapproved for a Mortgage

Mortgage preapproval shows agents and sellers that you’re a serious buyer. In fact, Lending Tree warns that some agents won’t show you a home without preapproval. When you get preapproved for a mortgage, a lender examines your finances to determine exactly how much they’re willing to lend you. Avoid being swayed into buying a more expensive home by a mortgage approval that’s higher than your budget. Only you know the full picture of your finances, not your lender, so make sure you plan carefully.

Decide What You Want in a Home

Now that you know your budget and are certain you can get a mortgage, it’s time to start thinking about what you want in a home. Look at several online listings to see what type of home you can afford within your budget and desired geographical area. Then, list the features that are most important to you, starting with unchangeable characteristics like location, neighborhood, lot size, and square footage.

Hire a Real Estate Agent

A great real estate agent makes all the difference, especially for first-time homebuyers. The right agent understands what you’re looking for, finds homes that fit the bill, and negotiates to get you the best possible price.

Shop for a Home

Attending open houses, scheduling viewings, scouring online listings — these are the things people picture when they think about buying a house, but in reality, it’s a small portion of the home buying process. Nonetheless, it’s an emotional undertaking. Stick to your list and your budget, and keep communication open with your spouse and agent. HGTV offers additional tips to make your house hunt go smoothly.

Make an Offer

When you find a home you love, you’re ready to make an offer! However, don’t get ahead of yourself; formulating an offer is a nuanced process, and you’ll need to work with your realtor to determine the right offer price and negotiate the terms of sale.

Buying your first home is a major step, and you want to do it right. Before you start sketching out your dream home, read up on the homebuying process. When you head into homeownership as an informed consumer, you can make a choice that’s good for you and your financial future.

 

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Existing Home Sales Slowed by a Lack of Listings

  • Existing home sales are currently at an annual pace of 5.22 million, which is up 1.4% over last month. This reverses the six-month trend of dips in sales every month.
  • The inventory of existing homes is still below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market and is now at a 4.3-month supply.
  • NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, had this to say: “After six consecutive months of decline, buyers are finally stepping back into the housing market. As more inventory enters the market and we head into the winter season, home price growth has begun to slow more meaningfully. This allows for much more manageable, less frenzied buying conditions.”

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Home Prices Are Up 6.49% Across the Country [INFOGRAPHIC]

Moving Terminology — The Ultimate Need-to-Have Glossary

Updater is a great company that works with real estate professionals and their clients, making the moving process a little easier. If you’ve ever had a medium or long distance move, you know there are many logistics to consider. Updater came out with this Moving Glossary that helps with the terminology.

Take a look at it here.

 

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Slaying Home Buying Myths

  • The average down payment for first-time homebuyers is only 6%.
  • Despite mortgage interest rates being over 4%, rates are still below historic numbers.
  • 88% of property managers raised their rents in the last 12 months!
  • The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.

Take a look at ONE88

Bellevue’s newest address has received incredible interest during its recent preview with over 100 residences sold. The excitement continues with the unveiling of the One88 Visual Tour. Take an exclusive first look at an animated tour of the building’s sophisticated residences and world-class amenity collection and experience the attentive design detail that has defined this remarkable new high-rise.

Buyer & Seller Markets