When buying a house, each buyer situation may be a bit different, although all the buyers share on common
goal, become a homeowner!
Many first-time home buyers that come to me always have these questions:
How do I buy a house if I am a first-time home buyer? If I have owned a home in the past, will I be able to qualify as a first-time home buyer if it has been more than 3 years since I do not own a home? How do I get a mortgage to pay for my home?
I decided to dedicate this section to give some tips to make it a little bit easier when going through the process. Remember, just because your neighbor bought his/her/their house in such a way, it does not mean your experience will be the same and every person’s case is different.
Checking your assets and your liabilities can help avoid not having the answer to the questions when the lender is pre-qualifying you for the loan starts working on your loan application. You can make a list of items and group them into categories:
Credit cards, car loans, student loans, and other expenses that affect your cash flow in a monthly basis.
Anything you owned that is paid in full and that can be considered as a collateral for a loan.
If you are not sure how your monthly cash flow is affected in a monthly basis, try to track your monthly spending for two months and that way see if you have any money left over or if you are in the negative side.
Getting pre-qualified for a loan is one of the most essential steps of determining how much of a house you can buy. Many realtors can refer you to lenders they have been working with and determine if your case will be successfully satisfied by using that specific lender. However, you are not obligated to use the lender a realtor refers you, but it is always helpful to listen since it can save you frustrations, time and money.
Normally, a mortgage lender will check if you are self-employed or if you have a stable working history. People with a steady income and stable jobs tend to be easier to pre-qualified since the income is not variable. However, sales persons, commission based professionals have it a bit harder when trying to obtain financing. Most lenders require self-employed individuals to provide at least 2 years of verifiable income on their taxes, the last two paystubs you have received, past bank statements, and previous W-2 forms. This is one of the main reasons why staying organized with your documents is so important if you are
thinking on buying a home.
Some first-time home buyers may elect to take classes to qualify for some programs that are available for low income families or classes the lending institution requires to receive any perks or down payment assistance under certain participating programs.
Always check with a real estate professional to find out what your situation is before going to a lender and asking for a product that may not fit your house searching criteria and prevent you from getting into the home you want.
The perfect house is almost non-existent, since every family lifestyle is different and what some people may love about their home, some others may not be so enchanted by it. Therefore, it is important to take into priority what it is most important to you, that is, outlining what type of house will fulfill your needs. How many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, location, how far is it going to be from work, the schools, the proximity of your most frequent stores, and many other things that are important to you and to the comfort of your family. Remember, if a house does not have granite counter tops, or stainless steel appliances, those are things you can change in a house as you go; the most important things are the things you cannot change on a house that may affect your family needs.
“I always recommend people to visualize themselves living in the particular house they want because that will give them an idea of how their lives will be impacted. Knowing how much it is going to cost to live in that home is very important to avoid bad experiences in the future.” – Milagro D Scardigno PLLC – Realtor with Veterans Realty.
Once you have your list and you are pre-qualified, call a realtor, let this professional know that you are pre-qualified, that you need to move within a certain timeframe, and share some of the things you would like he/she to do for you.
Many buyers think they must pay a realtor to use one. The good news is, a realtor can help you all the way through the process and make things easier for you, at no cost to you. A realtor works with a client and gets paid at the end from the proceeds of the sale. Many realtors, specially buyer agents, work hard and invest huge amount of time on helping people and at times, having to start over again due to properties not passing inspections, or other situations that may arise that can affect the buyer from being able to buy that property.
“I saw a house as I was driving and I call the listing agent to see if I could get a showing” – Client
“I would like to get the phone number of the listing agent for 123 blaka blaka street.” – Client
Always get the representation of a good buyer agent. A listing agent is working to sell the sellers property and often, they will just work on favor of the seller. Get a buyer agent to represent your interests. This does not mean that buyer agents and seller agents are against each other, it means that they both will work hard, adhering to a strong code of ethics to bring the buyer and seller together in the real estate transaction and provide a fair treatment to their parties.
The realtor will set you up to receive daily alerts, if not to the minute, on homes that best match your search criteria and will be able to schedule showings at your best convenience. Realtors work long hours, and many times all week, and it is important to give some time in advanced to avoid frustrations when wanting to preview owner occupied properties that may require at least 24 hours in advance.
The realtor will send you a variety of properties that will be in flood zone (requiring flood insurance) and HOA or CDDs fees. Always check how having these additional expenses can affect you living in that home you are planning to buy.
You found the one! You see yourself grabbing the cabinets knobs and you love the layout, the views, and you definitively think this is the house!
Check with your realtor for any special information regarding the property, and if satisfactory to you, make an offer! Depending on the real estate market, buyer market or seller market, acting quickly will determine if you are getting that home you fell in love with.
Check with your realtor to find out how the real estate market can affect you.
You have a number of days after your offer was accepted to make inspections. Always make sure you check for the items that will imply the most money out of your pockets. Several home inspection companies offer packages to accommodate your inspections needs. Ask a realtor to provide you information about local inspection companies.
Once inspections are done, appraisal is completed and the property meets the established guidelines by your lender, get ready to sing your closing documents! Check with a realtor for a list of local closing agencies or real estate attorneys.
You did it! You are now a homeowner! Throw a party, invite friends over, and share with them how your experience was. Your realtor will sure love to be invited!