Buying a House

Tips on Buying a House

 

It’s likely the biggest purchase you will ever make. It’s an experience filled with great excitement and joy, anticipation, and hope. But anybody who has ever bought a house knows it can also be a time of stress, especially if it’s your first home. Understanding the process is a good first step toward taking some of the worry out of purchasing a home.

Weve compiled a few basic house-buying tips to get you started:

 

Target homes you can afford

Determine how much you can spend on a home. While it sounds obvious, some homebuyers skip this important step and hunt for the dream home that is out of their price range. Be realistic about home shopping. Check out online home-buying calculators, like those provided here by FirstMerit. These tools can give you an idea of the house you can afford, taking into consideration your income, debts, and expenses.

Make a “Needs” and “Wants” list

Write down exactly what you’re looking for in a house. Your “needs” are things you decide you must have in your home (perhaps a second bathroom to accommodate your growing family). Your “wants” define what would be your ideal home. These are features that can be compromised to fit your budget (maybe walking distance to a grocery store, a finished basement, or a property in a particular school district).  Prioritize these items. Then take your list with you for each house you visit and use it for taking notes.

Do your research

If you’re interested in living in particular neighborhoods, research to find what homes have been selling for in these locations. There are several websites that can provide you with this information. This will give you a good idea if you can afford homes in your targeted locales. This information can also help you when you’re ready to make an offer on a house. If you’re making a bid, it’s also beneficial to research how long the house has been on the market and if there are comparable properties for sale in the same neighborhood.

Turn to a mortgage professional

Having experienced mortgage professionals in your corner is invaluable. They will take the time to thoroughly assess your needs, financial situation, and future plans to find the mortgage loan that has the terms and monthly payment that’s the right fit for you. Is a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage your best option? What about an adjustable rate mortgage? Do you qualify for any first-time home buyer programs? There’s a great deal to know about financing a house. Find mortgage lenders with a proven track record, lending strength and stability, experience serving homeowners in your area, and the skill and patience to clearly explain your lending options, your obligations, and the paperwork you must sign. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out about loans structured for low- to moderate-income households, loans that combine a home purchase and renovation, and other mortgage alternatives.

Get pre-approved

Getting pre-approved on a mortgage loan lets you know what you can borrow and what houses you can afford. It enables you to target your home searches to properties in your price range, avoiding the disappointment of finding houses you simply love but can’t fit into your budget. Based on factors such as income, debt, and credit history, pre-approval can also be a positive to sellers when they are considering the seriousness of your bid.

Choose the right agent

Finding a house, especially if you lead a busy lifestyle, can be like having a second job. In other words, it can take a great deal of time and effort. If you’ve decided that you don’t have the know how or time to sell your home yourself, hiring a professional real estate agent or Realtor® (a member of the National Association of Realtors) can be a major asset. Professional real estate agents can perform a number of important tasks in helping you find a house. Where should you start looking for a trusted real estate agent? Start by asking friends and family for names of agents they have used. It might also be beneficial to find an agent who has experience selling homes in the neighborhoods in which you are interested.

Get a home inspection

Before you finalize your home purchase, hire a home inspector to point out potential problems with the house. A professional home inspector will check the heating system, central air, interior plumbing, electrical systems, roof, attic, visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement, and structural components. Discovering a major problem with your potential home, such as a cracked foundation, can save you a lot of grief. If no problems are found, you can make your purchase with more confidence.

Contact FirstMerit Mortgage Services

Whether you need financing for a new home purchase, money-saving refinancing, a home renovation loan, a first-time homebuyer loan, or pre-approval for a mortgage loan before you even begin your home search, we have the expertise to help fulfill your dreams of homeownership.