You are planning to make one of the biggest financial investments, if not THE biggest, in your life. To be successful, there are a few things that are essential for you to do.
This series is in 6 parts so we can cover each essential step thoroughly.
Buying a home is not like purchasing a DVD or a shirt that you can return to the store and get your money back if you don’t like it. So you don’t want to make a mistake.
While the focus here is on first time buyers, most of this also applies to those who are experienced with the home buying process.
STEP 1 – GET PRE-APPROVED BY A QUALIFIED MORTGAGE LENDER
This may be one of the most important things you need to do, and early on in the process before you get started on your search.
Most buyers need a mortgage to buy a home, especially first time buyers. So it stands to reason you need to find out how much money you can actually borrow, otherwise how can you realistically start a home search…by picking a number out of a hat? Taking a guess about what you can afford? Picking a price range because those are the houses you like?
You need to know the facts, by checking with a reputable lender who will evaluate your income, assets, debts and credit – and no, you do not just want a pre-qualification. Sellers and listing agents do not put much faith in these since some things, like income and assets, are not verified in writing.
Keep in mind that providing a pre-approval letter with you offer says you are a serious buyer who is qualified to purchase the seller’s home.
The pre-approval process can take some time, and varies from lender to lender, and there is a lot of information and supporting documentation the loan officer will need from you. And more will be needed later once you have a contract on a home and are applying for a formal mortgage on that particular property.
Yes, getting a loan these days can be a hassle, but the hard work and effort will pay off. If you are not ready to put in the serious work to get pre-approved that may signal you are not yet ready to buy a home.
Along with getting pre-approved you also need to know your personal budget.
Just because the bank is willing to loan you $400,000 does not necessarily mean you should spend that much. If the monthly payment (including interest, property taxes, insurance and in some cases HOA fees) ends up being most of your take home pay, including all that discretionary money you like each month for travel, sports, clothing and other things, you will regret it. Maxing out your house budget will make you miserable and leaves no room for emergencies.
In the next article, Step 2, we will talk about the importance, and value to you, of working with a well-qualified REALTOR®.