Tuesday, April 19, 2016

8 Tips for Buying a House

 
 
These last few months have been crazy! My hubby and I have been house hunting and let me tell you, it is no easy feat! There are so many things to consider when making what could possibly be the largest purchase of your life...and it can be very stressful. When we first sat down with a mortgage broker, we had this "we got this" attitude about the home buying process, but we quickly got a reality check once we started. There were times we left the bank with our heads spinning! Ahh! Sleepless nights, loss of appetite, and hours of research later, we are getting closer to the end result...obtaining our dream house!

So, since I have been going through all of this recently, I figured I would write an article about some of the things I have learned during this process, perhaps sparing you a bit of the stress when you are house hunting. It is now spring time. A time when the housing market becomes flooded with new listings! This is a popular time of year for people to buy and sell. Many of you may be in the market to purchase a house. Whether you are first time home buyers or have been through the process before, there is no doubt, you will have a lot to do!
 
First thing before we really get into the meat of it, just take a deep breath. House hunting and buying is stressful, but you can make it less stressful by being prepared, staying calm, and staying level-headed. Purchasing a home is different for everyone. Are you buying a house with your spouse? Or alone? Do you have children that require a certain school district or number of bedrooms? Is there something specific your home must have? Maybe you require a home office or a room for guests to stay in if you often have visitors? All these different factors will play a huge role in your own personal home buying process.
 
 

So, let's start with tip number one...


  1. Create a list of must-haves, wants, and would-likes. If a specific location is a must, make sure that is right at the top of your list. If you really enjoy cooking, perhaps a kitchen equipped with stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops is something you would really like your home to have. Perhaps large walk-in closets would make you swoon? But is it a deal breaker if you find a great house that does not have walk-ins? Make sure you carefully consider wants and needs. If you are making your home purchase with a spouse, you might not agree 100% on every aspect of your needs and wants. Be prepared to compromise. You may have to let go of something you wanted. That is not the end of the world. Talk through your options and keep communication open with your spouse during the entire process.
  2. Know your credit score. This can be a huge factor in getting approved for a mortgage. Most likely, you will find anything below a 640 is going to cause you trouble getting approved for one. Everyone would love a credit score of 850, but we know in this world of student loans and credit cards, most of us do not hit so high on the score board. Shoot for a 700. Realistically, this score is obtainable and will almost insure you can get approved. In some cases a better credit score will be a factor in your interest rate and the down payment required.
  3. Get Pre-Qualified for a mortgage. The first thing you should do is go to a bank and see if you can get pre-qualified for a mortgage. If you get a pre-qualification, they will give you an amount they determined you would be approved for. I will tell you though, this is not a guarantee of a mortgage. However, a pre-qualification is the starting point for the process, and gives you a good idea of what price range you should look at. Don't dream about that perfect house, getting your hopes up and heart set on it, only to find you won't qualify for a mortgage for it. Knowing your price range first can save you a lot of unnecessary stress.
  4. Create a budget. You might want the moon and the stars...but what can you really afford? Comfortably? Without making yourself house-broke? Keep in mind that when you buy a home, other expenses come along with it, aside from the mortgage. Will you have to purchase any appliances? How about furniture? Are you going to hire a moving company or a U-Haul truck? These things can quickly add up so make sure you give yourself a little wiggle room.  
  5. Closing coasts can hit souring amounts. I did not realize the cost of closing on a home until we actually got into the process. It can get expensive! Very expensive. Talk to the bank you are working with and get a soft quote on the expenses. A lot of the cost will depend on the type of loan you are going with. Some require 5% down, where others can be 20%. Other factors are what the lawyer fees are, the home's property taxes, and so on. The one thing that was news to me was that the first year's property tax needs to be paid up front. I always heard the taxes were rolled into the mortgage, which is true, after the first year. So, for example, if the home you want has annual property taxes of $3,000...you will need that 3k up front in cash, on top of everything else. Start saving!
  6. Find a good realtor to work with. Just like in any field, there are people good at their jobs and others that are, umm, not so much. Talk to others in your area that have been through the process. Often times word of mouth is the best way to find a really good realtor. Once you find one you feel comfortable with, and let them know everything you are looking for and what your price range is. They will be able to help you find contenders and set up showings. You want someone who will work for you and with you!
  7. Once you start touring homes that you are interested in, go in with your eyes and mind open. Take it all in. Inside and out. If a home is currently lived in, try not to focus on the current owner's furniture or decorations. Those things are not staying with the home. Look past them. Try to envision the rooms empty or with your own touches in it. Look at the major points...The layout, the condition of walls, windows, floors, foundation, and roof. Ask a lot of questions. How old is the roof? What sort of heating and/or cooling system does the home have? Does it have well water or a septic tank? Is the home in a flood zone that will require you to carry flood insurance?
  8. Once you decided on a house, made an offer and the offer was accepted; having a home inspection done is a great idea. Make sure you include it when you make an offer; simply stating that it is contingent on the home passing an inspection. This will cost you approx. 300-600 dollars, but is well worth it. This professional home inspector will look for any major problems in the home. Often times if something is found, for example the home needs a new roof, the home owners can be asked to make the repair before the sale goes through, or you can use it to lower the selling price and have the work done yourself. If worse comes to worse, it gives you the option to walk away from the deal. If a home has many unseen issues, a bad foundation, termites, leaks, etc...it could have just saved you from buying the biggest problem of your life!

Take your time (if possible) and make sure you feel comfortable with your end decision. Whether you plan to live in the home the rest of your life or just a few years, it is going to be a major part of your life. I hope these tips can help you to make a wise decision and ease the tension of the process.
 
Please feel free to share any additional tips or tell us a personal experience you had :)

Happy House Hunting!

 
 
 



 

55 comments:

  1. Thanks for this! I'm starting the home buying process and it seems SO daunting and costly.

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    1. It sure is! I hope you get through the process as easily as possible! :)

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  2. Thank you for the awesome tips! I am getting married in a couple of months and a house will be our next goal. Stumbling this to reference later!

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    1. Congrats on your upcoming wedding! I hope this article helps you down the road when you're ready to buy a house with your hubby!

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  3. Your point about the budget is so right on. When we bought our first house, we had no idea how much it would really costs. The cost of water hoses alone blew my mind.

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    1. LOL! That is funny about the cost of a water hose blowing your mind...but I can totally relate! Every little thing adds up!

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  4. I actually did all of these when we were house buying :-). Thanks for the great tips! Will definitely do it all over again with our next one.

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    1. Awesome..and congrats on being a home-owner! You are proof that you can survive the daunting process, lol. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Love these tips! When I bought our house last I was just so excited to be buying that there were things on my "must haves" that I let go of and I wish I wouldn't have now. These are great tips for homebuyers - great post! XO

    Anna || A Lily Love Affair

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  6. We made (and shared) a printable checklist just for house hunting! Helps to get together and compare later!
    http://www.sahmreviews.com/2014/04/house-hunting-printable-checklist.html

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    1. Oh, that is totally awesome! Thank you for sharing it! :)

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  7. We just bought our house (2 years this month!). You are right on the money. If our realtor hadn't walked us through all of these steps, we'd have been so lost.

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    1. Yes, having a professional to help is key to getting through the process more easily. Having a good realtor and/or mortgage broker will always be a big factor! Congrats on being a home owner for the last two years! I hope you are loving life in your castle!

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  8. This is great - we are planning on buying a house in te next few years and it's so great to have resources like this to help us learn what to look for and what to do - we have no idea!

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    1. Please feel free to pin this for later on when you are ready to buy! Best wishes!

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  9. These are great tips and we had a similar list of what to do when we bought our house last year. It can be a very overwhelming process and you can easily getlost in the process.

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  10. There's nothing like someone who has been through it to give good advice. Your suggestions are all good ones. We're in the last house we'll probably buy and are glad to not have to do it any more.

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  11. Ong buying a home really is the biggest pain of all times!!! These are definitely some great tips for people diving into the whole homeowner thing!

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  12. House hunting can be so tough, especially where I come from. These are great tips! I hope to not have to house hunt again for a looooong time! lol

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  13. Yes!! It's so crazy to me how many people don't know their credit score!

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    1. I know! Using Credit Karma is great because it is free...however, I also learned that Credit Karma is almost always higher than the score the bank will look at. Credit Karma will give you a good idea of your approx. score, but most likely when they pull your credit through FICA or Expedian, you might be surprised to see a lower score.

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  14. These are some really great tips! I think you pretty much got it all covered!

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    1. Thank you, Chrissy! I appreciate you stopping by!

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  15. Such great tips! I am pretty scared about the thought of buying a home! When the time comes that my husband and I start looking we will definitely take these tips on board - being prepared is key!

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    1. I know the feeling, but don't be scared. Allowing yourself time to be prepared will make all the difference in the world. Saving as much as possible for down payments and closing costs is the biggest factor. Feel free to pin this article for a reference later on when you and your hubby and ready to buy!

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  16. this is a great list of tips! i am really looking forward to buying a house in the future. I'm already making my list of wants

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    1. Awesome! I wish you all the best when you start the home buying process!

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  17. Some great tips. Sadly the housing market in my area is just too crazy right now. Homes are selling for hundreds of thousands over asking, paid in cash.

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    1. oh wow, that is crazy! We are pretty lucky that in my area (Western New York), homes are very reasonable!

      What area do you live in? My guess is Seattle? Chicago? LA?

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  18. I will be saving this. The next house we buy will be our forever home so we need all of the advice we can get!

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    1. Yes, please free to save for later! Good luck when you start your home buying journey!

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  19. Great post and it came at a time when I need it the most. My hubby and I have been looking for a new house for the last 4 months. We've decided to build but there is so much that we don't know. Luckily both of our dads are great at this kind of thing and are helping us along the way. We're actually going to look at land this evening!

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    1. Oh that is awesome! At least when building your own, you should get most everything you want! Are you going to have some killer walk in closets? lol ;)

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  20. These are great tips! We have purchased one house and are currently in the process of building a house. Knowing your credit and having your downpayment ready and in your account prior to any loan applications are musts!

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  21. Very good tips, particularly those which highlight the potential pitfalls. Can anyone tell me how to go about obtaining a credit rating once in the US? We'd love to buy a holiday home and jet between the US and London.

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    1. Well, I can definitely give you info on helping your credit score... however, if you are not a resident and just looking for a vacation house, I am not sure how that scenario would work. Good question though! I imagine you have a credit rating system in London, just as we do here in the US. It probably just carries over with you, no matter where you are. I would say do some research on the matter.

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  22. Great list of tips! Thankfully we moved 2 years ago and are settled in for a while, but hope all goes well for you!

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  23. Knowing your budget is so important. I have seen people fall in love with a house only to find out they can't afford it.

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  24. What lovely tips for buyers. Homes are so expensive these days, have to be careful

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  25. Great tips! I'm just starting to look at getting my first house so this is very helpful!

    smalltownsandcitylights.com

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    1. Rachel, so glad you found this helpful! Good luck on house hunting!

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  26. This post came about at a convenient time. :P I'm currently beginning the whole buying-a-house process (my first house, I might add) and I'm incredibly overwhelmed. I guess I'll start by getting pre-qualified for a mortgage. Thanks so much for the help! :)

    Christie's Take on Life. x

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    1. You're very welcome! Glad this came to you at the perfect time! Best wishes!

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  27. Incredible tips.... we are getting ready to purchase our first home!!!

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    1. That is great! Good for you! Hope it goes well for you :)

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  28. These are great tips! I remember when we rented a house, the house was nice, but there was no backyard for my son to play in. That is one thing that I want when we actually buy a home.

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  29. These are fantastic tips! I always say, FIND A REALTOR! They will help with the process SO much! I'm thankful we had a wonderful realtor and a fabulous mortgage company, too! But I do NOT miss house-hunting. Best of luck to you!

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  30. Good tips! We're not looking to house hunt right now, but I'm guessing that will be in our future with a family of 7 in our small house. Once these kids get old enough to start asking for their own rooms, we may have to start looking. :-)

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  31. You left out the part of getting an agreement on who gets the house if a divorce happens! Been there, done that, got screwed!

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  32. This is a great list of tips! We just bought our first home a few years ago and while the process of finding a house we loved was easy (the second house we saw!) the buying process was significantly more difficult.

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  33. I am addicted to HGTV in hopes of one day buying my house. Some of those people really need your tip numbers 1 and 7.

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  34. These are great list of steps to be followed for buying a house.I think one must take a good look at the historical record of ownership of the property,if it has any defect immediately step back.


    process of buying a property

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  35. Wow those tips are amazing! When we bought our house, we first consider the developer to secure that our investment is on the right hand. Second is our financial status, if we can really afford its amortization. And we're happy to get our first and new house and lot.:)

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