As you’re getting ready to buy a new home, here are some tips for making the most of the process.
Find out how much of a mortgage you are qualified to receive by getting pre-approved. It just takes a few minutes on the phone with a lender to uncover your mortgage potential. All you need to do is provide a few things, like proof of employment and income, a recent bank statement, and your driver’s license and social security numbers.
Once you’re pre-qualified, you’ll receive a pre-approval letter that confirms the amount. Always include this letter when submitting an offer, because it shows the seller that you’re a serious and qualified homebuyer.
Your lender can give you an estimate of closing costs, so you’re prepared with the funds you’re going to need. It will depend on the amount of your down payment, which could range from zero to 20%. You’ll have other fees to pay: appraisal, title search, attorney fees, home inspection, loan origination, property taxes, homeowner’s association fee, and transfer taxes, to name a few. Some are rolled into the loan (e.g., property taxes, HOA fee), while others must be paid at closing.
Once you know your pre-approval amount and the estimated closing costs, create a budget for your new home and stick with it. If you’re looking at resale homes, be sure to include the cost of upgrades, repairs, and replacements in your new home budget.
You probably have an idea of where you want to live, but take the time to focus on specific areas that fit your needs. You might want to be in a good school district for your kids, easy access to major roads for commuting, or to live in a community that best matches your lifestyle. Learn as much as you can about your chosen areas, by driving around, talking to local business owners, and finding reviews and insight on things like safety and great schools.
It’s easier to stay on target when you have a list of features that truly matter to you—like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, large yard, a first-floor owner’s suite, big kitchen, and energy efficiency, to name just a few. Prioritize those preferences and measure any potential home against your wish list.
New homes come with a builder’s warranty that provides coverage for everything from the foundation to the ceiling, and all the products, systems, and structures in between. It’s important to understand what you might be responsible to pay for without this peace of mind protection.
If you have a home to sell in order to buy a new home, you’ll need to make it look tempting to potential buyers. Start with purging. Do it now so you have less to pack. Go for as minimalist as you can. You also need to remove as much personal paraphernalia as possible. Your goal is for homebuyers to envision themselves living in this home, not reminded that someone else is living there.