Buying a house seems like a Herculean task. By the time you figure out your budget and find the house you want, you might be sick of the whole homebuying process. And then you still have to manage the closing, loan, paperwork, and more. Whether you’re buying your first house or your third, there’s a lot to manage, so here are seven ways to make it easier.
- Check your credit report now. And by “now,” we mean, as soon as possible — even before you go shopping for a house. Use the free annual credit report site to check your reports. Make sure there isn’t anything amiss that will surprise you later in the mortgage lender’s office. Pro tip: You get one free report per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Spread those free reports out so that you can check every four months with one to see how things look.
- Figure out your budget before you start. Shopping for a house can actually be fun, but like buying anything else, it’s easy to go over budget. The difference is that going over budget on the new TV is far less likely to affect your bank account. If you know how much you can afford up front, you can look at houses only within your price range. Don’t forget to consider that some houses come with extra monthly HOA dues.
- Find the right real estate agent. You probably know at least one person who works in real estate. But that doesn’t mean he or she is the best fit for you. This person is your advocate, who will help you negotiate a deal. Plus, he or she will be wandering into a lot of houses with you. Make sure you feel comfortable with him or her and you are confident he or she has got your back.
- Find a mortgage lender. This is someone who will be scrutinizing your finances, so make sure you feel comfortable with him or her. It’s OK to shop around. Check with your bank or credit union of course, but also check with online lenders and the mortgage officer recommend by your real estate agent. If you work for a large company, check with HR. Some companies offer discounts or deals with specific lenders. Some large corporations even have their own credit unions.
- Get pre-qualified. This is not the same as pre-approved. Talk to your mortgage lender about doing both and get more tips on this part of the homebuying process in our Mortgage Application Checklist.
- Make a list of must-haves and deal breakers. Make a separate list of “nice to haves.” Picture this: you say location is your top priority. But then you find a house just a little farther away that’s larger, has everything else on your list. Are you willing to add 15 minutes each way to your commute? Talk over with your partner or spouse what you need and want in a house. That way you are both on the same page. Some items to consider:
- Whether an older house that needs work is OK.
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
- The presence of a garage, pool, basement.
- Extra amenities, if the house is in a community.
- Amount of yard space.
- Distance from work or other interests.
- School district.
- Storage space.
- HOA fees.
- Be ready to compromise. No house is perfect. Even multi-millionaires who buy mansions are going to make some changes. That’s why it’s important to know your deal breakers. Items such as light fixtures and paint colors can easily be changed.
Ready to take a look? We’re happy to give you a tour of Weaver’s Pond’s custom homes, which give you the ability to choose floor plans, colors, and fixtures. Contact us today to learn more.