Prepare for Home Ownership
Owning a home is still part of the "American Dream" because it helps us identify with a particular community, build strong ties and gives us a sense of pride. Yet getting to the closing table and receiving the keys to YOUR home can be a daunting process. What does the road to home ownership entail and what are specific steps you can take to prepare?
1. Talk to a loan officer to go over your income and expenses in order to determine how much house you can afford and ask them to "pre-qualify" you. this is based on the information you give them about your finances and your credit report. Getting a "pre-qual" does not guarantee they will give you a mortgage. However, agents will often ask that you are pre-qualified before they show you houses. Not only do the agents want to know that you are serious, but so do the sellers before they let you in their home. Generally, you can afford to purchase a home two to three times your gross income.
2. Develop a 'wish list'. What are your absolute
'must-haves', such as school district and a two car garage? Can you live without central air or
have the yard fenced after you purchase?Creating your list before you shop will save
you-and your agent-time, frustration and gas!
3. Start saving! Yes, there are programs out there to help with closing costs, but you will still need money out-of-pocket for your home inpsection, appraisal fee and credit report. Most loans will charge you a monthly PMI fee
if you put down less than 20% of the purchase price.
4. Calculate the cost of home ownership. In addition to your mortgage, which includes your taxes and homeowner's insurance, you still need to pay utilities, maintenance and association fees, if applicable.
5. Contact a local REALTOR who can now help you find the right house. Ask them to set you up on an automated search so that new listings come to you as soon as they hit the market. Drive around the neighborhoods you would consider and visit Open Houses. Be picky but also be realistic. There is no perfect house, but once you own, you can make it just what you and your family needs.
With some thoughtful preparation on your part, owning a home can become a reality. Follow the outline above and call one of our agents and get started on the path to home owenrship!