David Higgins' Blog
The homebuying journey may be complicated, particularly for those who fail to plan for it. Fortunately, there are lots of things that you can do to boost your chances of enjoying a successful property buying experience.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you start a successful homebuying journey.
1. Establish Criteria for Your Home Search
Create homebuying criteria – you'll be glad you did. With homebuying criteria in hand, you can speed up the process of finding your dream residence.
Think about the features you want to find in your ideal house. For example, if you want to own a residence that boasts a luxurious in-ground swimming pool, you can search for houses that offer this feature. Or, if you want to purchase a home that includes a central air conditioning system, you can hone your house search accordingly.
Don't forget to consider where you want to reside too. If you prefer big city life over small town living – or vice-versa – you should account for this factor as you kick off your house search.
2. Get Your Finances in Order
Obtaining a home mortgage is key, especially for individuals who want to streamline the homebuying process. Luckily, banks and credit unions are happy to help you select the right mortgage based on your individual needs.
Banks and credit unions employ friendly mortgage specialists who can take the guesswork out of home financing. If you meet with these professionals, you can learn about all of your mortgage options. Then, you can select a mortgage and enter the housing market with a budget.
3. Hire a Real Estate Agent
Navigating the homebuying journey on your own may prove to be exceedingly difficult, regardless of whether you are operating in a buyer's or seller's market. However, if you hire a real estate agent, you can simplify your house search and discover your dream residence without delay.
A real estate agent knows the ins and outs of the housing market and will share his or her expertise with you. That way, you can work with a real estate agent to become a housing market expert.
In addition, a real estate agent offers comprehensive support throughout the homebuying journey. He or she first will craft a custom homebuying strategy for you based on your property buying goals. Next, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about available houses in your preferred cities and towns. Once you find a home you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase it. Finally, a real estate agent will guide you through the home closing process.
For those who want to enjoy a quick, easy homebuying experience, it usually is a good idea to plan ahead as much as you can. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can launch a successful homebuying journey and take the necessary steps to acquire your dream residence any time you choose.
Want to buy a house for the first time? Create a budget, and you can move one step closer to transforming your homebuying dream into a reality.
Now, let's take a look at three budgeting tips that every first-time homebuyer needs to know.
1. Don't Wait to Start Saving for a Down Payment
In most instances, a down payment on a home ranges from 5 percent to 20 percent. With a large down payment, you may be able to reduce your monthly mortgage expenses.
A lender may be more willing to provide you with a favorable mortgage if you can afford an above-average down payment. This means if you have plenty of money for a down payment, you could save money over the life of your mortgage.
2. Take a Look at Your Outstanding Debt
Student loan charges, credit card bills and other outstanding debt may make it tough for you to get the financing that you need to buy a house. Fortunately, if you pay down your outstanding debt as much as possible, you can boost your chances of buying your dream house.
Evaluate your current spending and make cuts if possible. For example, if you dine out several times a week, it may be more cost-effective to buy groceries and cook your own meals. Then, you'll have extra money that you can use to pay off outstanding debt and save for a house.
3. Understand Your Credit Score
Do you know your credit score? If not, you may be missing out on opportunities to eliminate outstanding debt and increase your home savings.
You are eligible for a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Take advantage of this perk, and you can receive insights into your credit score.
If you obtain your free credit reports and find outstanding debt, you should try to pay off this debt sooner rather than later. Because the longer that you wait to pay off outstanding debt, the longer it may take you to acquire your ideal residence.
Furthermore, if you discover errors on a credit report, contact the reporting bureau immediately. This will enable you to fix any report errors before you get a mortgage.
If you need additional assistance as you map out a homebuying budget, it often pays to collaborate with a bank or credit union. In addition to providing you with multiple mortgage options, a lender will offer expert recommendations to help you budget for your first home purchase.
Lastly, don't hesitate to reach out to a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional is happy to help you get in touch with the best lenders in your area. And when you're ready to kick off your inaugural homebuying journey, a real estate agent can provide you with the support you need, precisely when you need it.
Use the aforementioned tips, and you can establish an effective homebuying budget.
Searching for a house should be a fun, exciting experience. It represents an opportunity to discover a residence that you can transform into your very own home. As such, conducting an effective home search may require both hard work and patience to ensure that you can achieve the best-possible results.
Ultimately, there are many factors to consider as you search for your ideal house, and these factors include:
A home's location can have far-flung effects on a homeowner's day-to-day activities, and perhaps it is easy to understand why.
For example, a city home may provide quick, easy access to a wide range of attractions. On the other hand, this home may be located near major highways, which could create traffic problems for those who need to commute to school or work regularly.
As you search for your dream house, consider where you want to live both now and in the future. If you enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life, you may want to pursue houses in big cities. Or, if you prefer the serenity of small town living, you can search for a top-notch home in the suburbs.
2. Home Condition
It is paramount to assess a house's condition. Otherwise, you risk making an offer on a home that may have many "hidden" problems that probably will need to be corrected in the foreseeable future.
A home requires maintenance over time, and an older house may be more susceptible than others to costly, time-intensive structural problems. Thus, depending on a home's age, you may need to account for many potential upgrades sooner rather than later.
It also may be worthwhile to find out which home upgrades that a home seller has already completed. If a seller recently replaced a house's roof or heating and cooling system or performed other major home upgrades, you may be able to reap the benefits of these house updates for years to come.
3. A Home's Price
The initial asking price of a home rarely, if ever, is set in stone. Therefore, if you find a house that is priced above your budget, you may be able to negotiate the house's price with the seller.
If you find a house that you want to buy, it helps to submit a competitive offer right away. This offer should account for the age and condition of a house, as well as the current housing market's conditions. And if the offer meets a seller's expectations, he or she should have no trouble accepting the proposal.
Lastly, if you need help searching for a house, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional can keep you up to date about new houses that become available, provide plenty of homebuying tips and suggestions and help you submit an offer on your dream house. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent is happy to respond to your homebuying questions, guaranteeing that you can make informed decisions at each stage of the homebuying journey.
Ready to submit an offer on a house? Not so fast. First, you'll want to consider a few key questions, including:
1. Can I afford to buy a house?
If you find a house you like, make sure you can afford the monthly mortgage payments. By doing so, you may be able to avoid costly, time-consuming problems down the line.
Ultimately, getting pre-approved for a mortgage can make a world of difference, particularly for a homebuyer who is ready to submit an offer on a home.
With pre-approval for a mortgage, a homebuyer will understand exactly how much money is at his or her disposal. As a result, this homebuyer can avoid the temptation to overspend on a house.
2. Should I submit a "lowball" offer?
For many homebuyers, it may seem like a good idea to submit a "lowball" offer on a house. But doing so may be problematic for a number of reasons.
If you submit a lowball proposal, a home seller is unlikely to take your bid seriously. As such, this home seller may dismiss your offer and move on to other proposals quickly.
In addition, a lowball offer may cause you to miss out on the opportunity to acquire your dream residence.
When you locate the perfect residence, there is no need to leave anything to chance. If you submit a fair proposal that meets or exceeds a home seller's expectations, you can avoid the risk of losing your dream house to a rival homebuyer.
3. How much should I offer for a residence?
We've already established that a lowball offer is rarely, if ever, a good idea. Now, you'll just need to determine what differentiates a fair proposal from a lowball one.
A fair proposal accounts for the needs of both a homebuyer and home seller. It should be based on the current state of the housing market as well as the condition of a home.
For instance, if you're operating in a buyer's market, there is likely to be a broad assortment of homes available. This means a home seller may need to lower his or her expectations due to the sheer volume of quality residences currently on the market.
Don't forget to study the prices of recently sold homes in a particular city or town too. This housing market data will help you better understand how a residence you're considering stacks up against comparable houses so you can submit an appropriate offer.
4. Do I need a real estate agent?
A real estate agent will take the guesswork out of buying a home, and for good reason. This real estate professional can help you prepare an offer and will negotiate with a home seller on your behalf. That way, you can streamline the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.
Hire a real estate agent before you submit an offer on a house – you'll be glad you did. A real estate agent will guide you along the homebuying journey and ensure you can secure a great house at a price that fits your budget.
Getting settled in your new neighborhood is a big task. There are boxes to unpack, utilities to organize, new schools to register for, and new neighbors to meet. You have to learn new routes to work, and if you moved because of an employment opportunity, a new job to learn.
On top of that, you have to figure out new traffic patterns and where to find the best grocery stores, how to get to the post office or find the library and other services. You’re trying out new restaurants, exploring the sights and just getting settled in.
Then, you fall ill on the weekend, or your child discovers broken glass the hard way. With all the busyness and activity, that last thing on your mind is having to deal with an unexpected medical emergency. You realize that while you signed all of the paperwork in HR at your new job, you didn’t really read it and follow instructions to find a local doctor, determine the nearest hospital or urgent care that takes your insurance or even locate a pharmacy.
This common scenario can derail your relocation experience and make navigating an emergency even more difficult.
Follow this guide for locating the necessary emergency services ahead of time:
- Dedicate a few hours to locating a nearby urgent care to deal with minor issues. Ask neighbors, school teachers, and co-workers for recommendations.
- Urgent care facilities often are open on the weekend or later hours to care for simple infections and respiratory illnesses like a cold or flu, scrapes and bruises, sprains and other minor issues that need immediate attention but not hospitalization.
- Find the nearest 24-hour pharmacy. Call ahead to make certain they take your prescription coverage.
- Find the nearest hospital that has a trauma-level 24-hour emergency room and that takes your insurance.
- Be sure to locate an emergency dentist too. A dentist specializing in emergency care may be able to save a broken or knocked out tooth while waiting to get into your regular dentist might be too late.
Learn directions to these locations from your home, your work and your children’s schools. Drive by each location to become familiar with the proper entrances for emergencies. Keep the addresses and phone numbers of these locations in your contacts. List them by “pharmacy,” “urgent care,” or “hospital” along with the business name, since during an actual emergency you may not be able to recall the business name. Keep a printed or hand-written list on your refrigerator or another visible location in your home for older children or childminders.
Pets have emergencies too. Not all pet hospitals handle emergencies, so locate the nearest one to you and find a veterinarian that has a nearby clinic or makes house calls.
If it is possible your child or pet has ingested something poisonous, memorize the number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222.
Put this number in your phone and post it on your refrigerator. Be sure to share it with babysitters and pet-minders.
For assistance locating other emergency services in your neighborhood, talk to your real estate professional for recommendations.