Quick Guide to Buying Your Dream Home
It’s a common scenario for many first-time homebuyers: You can envision the home of your dreams — the style, the features, even the color — but none of the houses you’re visiting check all the boxes.
Don’t despair; instead, follow these easy instructions that will help you narrow down your search and find that perfect needle in your house-hunting haystack.
1. Craft a Budget
Unless you’re dreaming of sprawling mansions and vast estates, reality doesn’t have to throw cold water on your home dreams. But you will need a budget: Take a look at your income and savings and see if you have enough money to make the mortgage payment on the kind of home you’re after. (Looking online is the easiest way to get an idea of current prices and an independent mortgage broker like us can help you determine how much home you can afford through a pre-approval.)
Then, share your budget with your real estate agent and independent mortgage broker. Remember to budget for extra expenses that come during move-in (like furniture and renovations/painting) and others that will be recurring over years in the home (maintenance costs, for example).
2. Get Pre-Approved
Before you start house hunting, it’s crucial to get pre-approved with an independent mortgage broker to understand your buying power and a monthly mortgage payment you can afford. Your pre-approval is determined by several key factors such as:
• Credit history
• Credit score
• Employment history
• Debt-to-income ratio
• Assets and liabilities
Your independent mortgage broker will perform a hard credit check to determine a loan amount you are pre-approved for. In most cases, a seller will want to see your pre-approval letter to show that you’re serious and competitive with other potential buyers.
3. Decide on Your “Must-Haves”
Don’t just answer, “light beige.” Instead, think about exactly how many bedrooms you need. Do you want a dining room, or are you perfectly content eating in the kitchen? Will you need a finished basement, or are basements just for storage as far as you’re concerned? Do you require a two-car garage, or are you a “driveway parker” by nature? By simply sitting down and listing your preferences, you’ve taken huge strides to create a clear vision of the house you want. This will help your real estate agent tailor a search that meets your needs.
4. Search for Your Ideal Neighborhood
Don’t put that pen (or keyboard) away just yet — it’s time to make a similar checklist for your desired neighborhood features. Are streetlights and sidewalks a must? Are dirt roads a no-no? Sharing these preferences with your real estate agent can help them focus on areas you’re most likely to fall in love with. Google Maps or similar sites are also a helpful tool to give you an aerial overview of your desired area. Most of all, hit the road! Long evening or weekend drives are a great way to wander and discover hidden neighborhoods in the cities you’re most interested in.
As daunting as it may seem now, your dream house isn’t that far out of reach when you work with an independent mortgage broker (like our team here at Contemporary Mortgage Services, Inc.) and your real estate agent. Use these tips on how to get your dream home (plus a little planning and perseverance) and your wish could come true faster than you expect!
Ready to get started? Give us a call! 407-834-3377.
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