Information For Buyers
Looking to Buy a home? Then you've come to the right place! This page is filled with useful articles to help you understand and prepare for the home buying process.
10 Ways to Prepare for Homeownership
For some buyers, buying a home can sometimes be overwhelming. The good news is, it doesn't need to be that way. Here are 10 ways to prepare for homeownership. See More
- Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.
- Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.
- Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.
- Start saving. Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.
- Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.
- Determine your mortgage qualifications. How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.
- Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.
- Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.
- Calculate the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.
- Contact me. As a REALTOR® I can help guide you through the home buying process.
Your Home Wish List
What does your future home look like? Where is it located? As you hunt down your dream home, consult this list to evaluate properties and keep your priorities top of mind. See More
What neighborhoods do you prefer? Schools What school systems do you want to be near? Transportation How close must the home be to these amenities?
- Public transportation
- Neighborhood shopping
- What architectural style(s) of homes do you prefer?
- Do you want to buy a home, condominium, or townhome?
- Would you like a one-story or two-story home?
- How many bedrooms must your new home have?
- How many bathrooms must your new home have?
- Do you prefer a new home or an existing home?
- If you’re looking for an existing home, how old of a home would you consider?
- How much repair or renovation would you be willing to do?
- Do you have special needs that your home must meet?
Print this table and then circle one of the choices for each of the features: Must Have, Would Like, Willing to Compromise, or Not Important.
|Front Yard||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Back Yard||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Garage ( _ cars)||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Patio / Deck||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Pool||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Family Room||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Formal Dining Room||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Formal Living Room||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Eat-In Kitchen||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Laundry Room||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Attic||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Fireplace||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Spa||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Wood Flors||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Granite||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Great View||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
|Other:||Must Have||Would Like||Compromise||Not Important|
5 Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes
Are you a first time home buyer? Then you'll definately want to read this! Don't fall victim to these common first time home buyer mistakes. See More
- They don’t ask enough questions of their lender and end up missing out on the best deal.
- They don’t act quickly enough to make a decision and someone else buys the house.
- They don’t find the right agent who’s willing to help them through the homebuying process.
- They don’t do enough to make their offer look appealing to a seller.
- They don’t think about resale before they buy. The average first-time buyer only stays in a home for four years.
What a Home Inspection Should Cover
Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase. See More
Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.
Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.
- Doors and windows
- Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
- Attached porches, decks, and balconies
Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.
Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.
Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.
Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.
Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.
Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:
- Walls, ceilings and floors
- Steps, stairways, and railings
- Countertops and cabinets
- Garage doors and garage door systems
Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.
Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.See Less
Common Closing Costs for Buyers
You’ll likely be responsible for a variety of fees and expenses that you and the seller will have to pay at the time of closing. Your lender must provide a good-faith estimate of all settlement costs. See More
The title company or other entity conducting the closing will tell you the required amount for:
- Down payment
- Loan origination
- Points or loan discount fees (which you pay to receive a lower interest rate)
- Home inspection
- Credit report
- Private mortgage insurance (PMI) premium
- Insurance escrow for homeowner’s insurance, if being paid as part of the mortgage
- Property tax escrow, if being paid as part of the mortgage. Lenders keep funds for taxes and insurance in escrow accounts as they are paid with the mortgage, then pay the insurance or taxes for you.
- Deed recording
- Title insurance policy premiums
- Land survey
- Notary fees
- Prorations for your share of costs, such as utility bills and property taxes
What Not to Overlook on a Final Walk-Through
It’s guaranteed to be hectic right before closing, but you should always make time for a final walk-through. Your goal is to make sure that your home is in the same condition you expected it would be. Ideally, the sellers already have moved out. This is your last chance to check that appliances are in working condition and that agreed-upon repairs have been made. Here’s a detailed list of what not to overlook for on your final walk-through. See More
Make sure that:
- Repairs you’ve requested have been made. Obtain copies of paid bills and warranties.
- There are no major changes to the property since you last viewed it.
- All items that were included in the sale price — draperies, lighting fixtures, etc. — are still there.
- Screens and storm windows are in place or stored.
- All appliances are operating, such as the dishwasher, washer and dryer, oven, etc.
- Intercom, doorbell, and alarm are operational.
- Hot water heater is working.
- No plants or shrubs have been removed from the yard.
- Heating and air conditioning system is working.
- Garage door opener and other remotes are available.
- Instruction books and warranties on appliances and fixtures are available.
- All personal items of the sellers and all debris have been removed. Check the basement, attic, and every room, closet, and crawlspace.
Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. © 2013. All rights reserved.