Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Time Home Buyers: 5 Tips

1) Know your financial picture. Buying a home is one of the most significant purchases and investments most Americans will make in their lifetime. Financial experts agree that housing costs should not exceed 28% of your budget. Your monthly payment will consist of your mortgage's principle and interest as well as taxes and insurance, also called PITI. When housing exceeds 1/3 of your budget, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain other parts of your budget (utilities, food, transportation, etc) and to save for your home's emergency fund. Every home for sale that you consider will need maintenance and repairs, regardless of whether it's a new custom build or an older, established home. Be conservative when deciding what you can comfortably pay each month in PITI and use this number when deciding how much home you can afford.

2) Be credit score savvy! Just as you must know your budget and how much you can afford, you need to be 100% knowledgeable of your credit score. There are three major credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The absolute best practice is to pull your report from each (there are companies that pull all three at one time for a single fee) and to thoroughly review the report and understand what your score means. If there is incorrect information on your report, it is your responsibility to correct this. Be aware that it can take 1-3 months for your credit report to update.

3) Must haves and can't tolerates. When beginning to look, you will undoubtedly review lists of homes for sale. By knowing what you desire not only in a home, but also a neighborhood, you can quickly and easily narrow the lists to more effectively hone in your home search

4) Trusted partners are key. A first home is intimidating on many levels. Whether buying or building, it is crucial that you have complete trust and rapport with your realty partners. Your realtor, home builder, loan officer and inspector should all be people you can be completely honest with and will work to bring you to your home dreams.

5) Enjoy the process! As with any large purchase, don't expect to find your dream house the first day out. You've done your research, you're prepared, so don't rush into a home that doesn't feel just right, this is true for buying or building. There are many homes for sale, and you may have more than one first choice and that's a good thing! Having options means that you will be able to negotiate from a point of strength, finding your dream home while staying within your budget.

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