Before You Begin Your Search

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions most people will make in their life. It involves a long-term commitment financially and emotionally, but it can also be a very exciting and rewarding experience.

When buying a new home, there are a few things to consider:

  • What monthly payment can I afford?
  • What am I looking for in a home?
  • Should I work with a REALTORĀ®?
  • Once I find a home to purchase, what do I need to do next?
  • How much cash do I need at closing?
  • How do I obtain a mortgage loan?

Before you actually begin the process of looking at homes, you should complete the following:

Get Pre-Qualified: Unless you are able to pay cash for your home, most buyers will need to go through the process of applying for a mortgage. By contacting a mortgage loan specialist before you begin your search, you are able to determine the amount of loan for which you qualify. Typically, a borrower is pre-qualified for a loan that amounts to 28%, or less, of their gross monthly income. In addition, if you know the amount of the monthly payment you would be comfortable paying, a mortgage specialist can calculate the price range for your home search. Getting pre-qualified for a loan also increases your chances of your offer being accepted. A seller is more likely to accept an offer from a buyer who already has funding versus one who still needs to get a loan.

Prior to getting pre-qualified, you should obtain a copy of your credit report so that there are not any negative surprises when you are ready to apply for your loan. Correct any errors that you may discover on your credit report. Also, you will want to reduce your consumer debt as much as possible by paying down credit card balances.

By going through the pre-qualification process, your mortgage specialist can provide you with an estimate of how much cash you will need for the sales transaction. Cash is needed for the down payment, earnest money, and closing costs of the transaction.

Make an Amenities List: Decide what features are most important to you in a home. By establishing your criteria, you will save time shopping for homes that do not meet your needs. Also, consider what locations you are interested in. When making an amenities list, determine which criteria you absolutely cannot live without and which ones you are willing to budge on.

Some typical criteria may include:

  • Price range
  • Neighborhood or subdivision
  • School districts
  • Proximity to work
  • Proximity to shopping, restaurants, hospitals, etc.
  • Number of Bedrooms
  • Number of Bathrooms
  • Storage space
  • Garages
  • Lot sizes
  • Pools