So you’ve been considering buying a home or a second home but aren’t sure it’s quite the right time. Here are some suggestions that might help you to know if now is THE time and that may even make the buying process go more smoothly. These are not the fun and exciting parts of pursuing the purchase of a home, but they are a reality. So here you go…
1) Become familiar with the market. You probably have an idea of the general area that you would like to buy a home; there are a variety of ways for you to get familiar. One option is to simply pick up the phone and call a Realtor. That person should be happy to talk with you about what is available, what the current trends are in that area, what the prices may be, etc. 2) There are an abundance of websites that allow you to sign up for a FREE update program (we call ours a listing manager account). You can enter your specific criteria including price range, size of the land, number of bedrooms, etc. The more parameters you enter the more restricted the results will be, so if you are just starting out it may be best to keep it simply to price range, or simply to the size of the land that you desire. 3) Go online often and search local websites and watch the new listings and the listings that are selling. This will give you a good idea of the market values.
2) Understand the amount that is needed for the down payment. There is a huge range of amount due for down payment on a home/land. It is a percentage of the purchase price but varies based on the lender you use and the program that best fits your needs. At this point the down payment can be as low as 3% and as high as 20% (more if it is vacant land). The best resource is going to be a local lender. They will undoubtedly start the conversation off with “it depends” but you can usually get them to give a general idea of down payment amounts. If you are at a loss for a lender to contact, your Realtor can suggest a few alternatives.
3) Know how much you can afford. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a home only to find out that you cannot afford the payments. Again, a lender can help you with this magic number. Another tool that I find helpful is one of the online amortization calculators that you can play with the numbers and find out how rates and down payment amount affect the monthly payment. The one I have bookmarked is: http://www.bretwhissel.net/cgi-bin/amortize but there are plenty available.
4) Be sure to include other monthly expenses when you are figuring what the costs will be monthly. Include insurance, taxes, utilities, maintenance items, and any homeowner’s dues or road maintenance amounts.
5) Get your credit score all cleaned up. You are allowed one free credit report for each of the 3 major credit reporting companies annually. Go to https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp to get started.