(ARA) - Buying a home can be a very intimidating process, especially if you've never done it before. So the first thing you should do before you start is to figure out whether owning a home is right for you.
If you're in a region where housing is at a real premium or is very expensive (such as New York or California), it may be better for you to continue renting. Take into account that if you do buy a home, there are extra responsibilities and costs that go along with it -- such as lawn care, snow removal, home maintenance and repairs, etc.
Ok, then. You've decided that renting is no longer for you and you want to move into your own home. Where do you begin?
Step 1: Check Your Credit Report and Score
Before getting any kind of loan, you should always check your credit. According to the law, you're allowed to receive one free copy of your credit report per year. You can do this by visiting Annualcreditreport.com. Don't forget to check your report for errors.
Step 2: Figure out How Much You Can Afford
You can calculate how much you can afford by starting online. Quicken Loans Home Affordability Calculator can help you calculate an affordable monthly mortgage payment. Don't forget to factor in money you'll need for a down payment, closing costs, fees (such as for an attorney, appraisal, inspection, etc.) and the costs of remodeling or furniture. Remember that you don't always have to put down 20 percent as your parents once did. There are loans available with little to no down payment.
Step 3: Find a Real Estate Agent
To find a real estate agent, it's best to shop around. Get recommendations from your friends and family and check with the Better Business Bureau. Talk to at least three or four real estate agents. Ask lots of questions and make sure they have answers that satisfy you. Don't go with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
You also need to find a lender to get home financing. Most lenders offer pre-qualifications or pre-approvals. Pre-qualifications are only a guess based on what you tell the lender and are no guarantee. A pre-approval will give you a better idea of how big a loan you qualify for. The lender will actually pull your credit and get more information about you. Quicken Loans offers a Mortgage 1st approval before you start home shopping. With an actual approval, you're ready to make an offer, and the sale will go much quicker. Besides, your offer will look more appealing than other buyers' since your financing is guaranteed.
Step 4: Look for the Right Home
Make a list of the things you need to have in the house you buy. Ask yourself how many bedrooms and bathrooms you'll need, how big you want the kitchen to be, if there's an adequate number of closets and cabinet space and if the yard is big enough for your kids and/or pets to play in.
Once you've made a list of your must-have's, don't forget to think about the kind of neighborhood you want, types of schools in the area, the length of your commute to and from work and the convenience of local shopping. Take into account your safety concerns as well as how good the rate of home appreciation is in the area.
Step 5: Make an Offer on the Home
Now that you've found the home you want, you have to make an offer. Most sellers price their homes a bit high, expecting that there will be some haggling involved. A decent place to start is about five percent below the asking price. You can also get a list from your real estate agent to find out how much comparable homes have sold for.
Step 6: Get the Right Mortgage for Your Situation
There are many different types of mortgage programs out there, but as a first-time home buyer, you should be aware of the three basics: adjustable rate, fixed rate and interest-only.
Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) are short-term mortgages that offer an interest rate that is fixed for a short period of time, usually between one to seven years. After that, the interest rate can adjust every year up or down, depending on the market. These are good for people who don't plan on living in their home very long and/or are looking for a lower interest rate and payment.
Fixed-rate mortgages are more traditional and offer a fixed interest rate (and thus a fixed monthly payment) for a longer period of time, usually 15 or 30 years, though they're available in 20 or 25 year terms. These are good for people who like a predictable payment and plan on living in their home for a good long time.
Both fixed- and adjustable rate mortgages can have an interest-only payment. What this means is that for a certain amount of time during the loan term, you're allowed to pay only enough to cover the interest portion of your payment. You can still pay principal when you wish, but don't have to if your budget is tight. There is a myth that with interest-only mortgages, you don't build equity. This is not necessarily true, since you can build equity through home appreciation. The benefit to interest-only mortgages is that you increase your cash flow by not paying principal.
Buying a home for the first time doesn't have to be a hassle if you're prepared and you know what to do and when to do it. Call a Quicken Loans at (800) 963-2177 for help figuring out all your home financing options.
Courtesy of ARA Content