Email Post to a Friend: Prepare to Buy a Home

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By Henry Higgins

The idea of buying a home can be one of the most exciting yet daunting decisions to be made in one's life. Although it is of course recommended to reach out to a qualified Jones Group REALTOR® to assist you in the process, there are a few pieces of wisdom that are customary in the industry to help you begin. These steps will ensure a seamless transition to buying once you are ready. 


For many, the purchase of a home is contingent on a mortgage from a bank, and a mortgage from a bank is contingent upon the banks' approval.  Up to a year before you begin the home buying process, it's a good idea to pull your credit report to get a sense of where you stand and check for any errors. If there are errors, it could take a few months to have your report fixed.


Saving up for a down payment can be even more challenging if you are making payments on other debts. It can be helpful to either consolidate your debts, or to pay down your small debts first to create a snowball effect, leaving you with more money to pay on your bigger debts since the smaller ones have been paid.   Do NOT make any large purchases before you apply for a mortgage loan.


When you begin the home buying process, it is extremely critical to assess your budget and finances as a whole.  A spreadsheet program is a fantastic tool to track your finances. Keep track of your income, assets and liabilities, and see what is left over to begin to save for a down payment.   Also, take stock of what you do on a daily routine - those coffees and meals out add up quickly!


One of the traps that homebuyers fall into is they purchase the maximum amount of house they can afford. This is not always the best idea.  Don't stretch yourself too thin financially, or become "house poor" as people say. You do not want a monthly payment eating up all of your income that could be used for other things such as saving for emergencies, home maintenance, retirement, or traveling.  Use an online loan calculator to determine a monthly payment you will be comfortable with.  Also, just because a bank determines that you are qualified for a specific loan amount doesn't mean that is the amount you should take; nobody wants to be barely staying afloat financially due to a burdensome mortgage. 


After you have properly gauged your financial health, contact your bank to get preapproved for a loan – this preapproval  letter (preferred over prequalification) is important to have in hand when making an offer.  Begin your search taking into account towns, neighborhoods, schools, parks, tax rates, proximity to emergency services and any other amenities that are important to you.  When you are ready and have a location as well as a price in mind, reach out to an agent at Jones Group REALTORS® who will be more than happy to assist you in your search.