Your Checklist
Before You Buy a Home

Your Checklist Before You Buy a Home

You've made the decision to buy, but where to start? Here are a few action items to put into play before your home purchase.

  1. Reduce your Debt / Increase your Credit Score: Your credit score affects the interest rate on your mortgage, and many things affect your credit score, including the outstanding balances on your credit card, and how many credit lines you have open. The lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better your credit score will be, and the better your mortgage. Get a copy of your credit report, and make some decisions on how to pay down those bills.

  2. Save Money to Set Yourself Up with a Large Down Payment: You'll need cash for a down payment, so while you're paying down your debt, you'll also need to be putting money aside. The rule of thumb is a 20% down payment on your new home. Some types of loans allow you to put less money down but there could be a higher interest rate or additional fees. Either way, save where you can.

  3. Keep a Conservative Budget: Keep in mind there are many fees and expenses involved in buying a house: inspection fees, earnest money, moving expenses, home repairs, even new furniture purchases. Prepare a monthly budget and stick to it. Also, keep in mind that with home ownership comes property taxes, HOAs, home repairs, and more. You want to make sure you are prepared for future budgeting as well. 

  4. Get Pre-approved: Talking to a loan officer in advance will give you a much better idea of what you can afford to pay. In addition, your pre-approval can help if you are putting in an offer against someone who is not; it makes you look like a more "ready now" buyer. Your pre-approval is based on your actual income, debt, and credit history. This is different from pre-qualification, which is how a lender determines how much you can afford. 

  5. Figure Out What You Want vs. What You Need: Sit down and make a list of how many bedrooms and baths you have to have, decide whether you want a turnkey home, or if a fixer-upper is more your thing. Do you want a big yard with a pool, or are you looking for something low-maintenance? Knowing what your “must haves” vs. your “nice to haves” will make your home search that much easier.

  6. Evaluate the neighborhoods: We recommend that when looking at specific neighborhoods that you also look at the school ratings, the crime statistics, and evaluate the different services and amenities available. Drive through your preferred neighborhoods at various times of day, and on the weekends so you can get a better idea of the traffic patterns. Check out the local grocery store to see if it's someplace you'd like to shop. All of your research will help you make a more informed home choice down the road.

  7. Find a Broker You Trust: A qualified broker will be able to guide you along the way, will educate you on the home buying process, and will ensure that your buying experience is a good one. Get references, and find someone who is familiar with your preferred areas. And know that any great broker will be able to refer you to other professionals you'll need during the process, like lenders, inspectors, and movers.

As you begin the process to find your dream home, checking these items off your list will provide you with a more successful home buying experience. The Braden Team is here to help you! Let us know the area and/or neighborhood you are looking to live, along with your must haves in a home. Thank you for allowing our team of professionals to assist you in finding your next home.

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