Buying Your First Home: The Process from Start to Finish

Buying Your First Home-The Process from Start to Finish-150x150There may come a time in your life when you decide it’s the right time to stop renting or living with your parents, and look for a place of your own. Whether you are looking for a house or an apartment, buying a home for the first time can be an intimidating process, and you are probably afraid not to make a mistake that will cost you more money or jeopardize your chances of becoming a home owner.

Finding the right home, obtaining a good mortgage loan, and moving into a new neighborhood are all steps necessary to becoming a home owner, but there’s nothing to be afraid about. By simply doing a little research, and getting to know all the steps, you will realize that this whole process is actually pretty straightforward. Here’s what the home buying process involves, from start to finish.

Find Out How Much You Can Afford to Pay

The first thing you need to do after you decide to buy a home is find out how much you can afford to spend on your first house or apartment. Having a budget is very beneficial, as it will help you in your search for a home, and it will keep you from spending more than you can afford, without even realizing it. Mortgage calculators can be very helpful in finding out how large of a monthly payment you can make and how big of a mortgage loan you can take out. Keep in mind that you will have to pay interest which, depending on several factors, can make your overall loan value much higher. Also, remember that you will probably have to make a hefty down payment and pay closing costs, which are also expensive.

One of the main factors that will affect how much you’ll be paying in interest is your credit score. You are entitled to one free credit report check per year, so you should make sure everything is in order before applying for a mortgage loan. The higher your credit score will be, the better mortgage loan and interest rate you will qualify for.

Find a Good Lender

The only way to find the right lender is by shopping around, asking your friends and family, or simply talking to various lenders. There’s a tough competition between lenders, so you would be surprised at how much some of them are willing to negotiate in order to get your business. Ask them plenty of questions in regards to the mortgage loans that they are offering, and only decide once you have found a lender that you feel comfortable with.

Once you have found a good lender, try to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. This will make buying a home much faster once you find the right one, minimizing the chances that the seller will sell to someone else. Being pre-approved for a mortgage loan will also make you look more trustworthy in the eyes of the seller.

Find the Right Home

Knowing what you are looking for before you start to shop around for a home will surely help you narrow down your options, and find the right home faster. Depending on your budget, you might have to make sacrifices in certain areas, but you shouldn’t stop searching for a home until you find the one that is the closest to what you are looking for.

Besides looking at what the property has to offer, also pay close attention to the neighborhood that the home is located in, the proximity to schools or stores, and the length of your commute to and from work. All of these factors can help you better decide if that is the right home for you and give you more reason to negotiate.

Make an Offer

Most home sellers will set their asking price higher than the home is worth, which means that they are probably expecting you to make a lower offer. The best way of finding out how much you should offer is by looking at what comparable houses in the same or similar areas have sold for recently.

Once you have decided how much you want to offer, contact your real estate agent and proceed with making the offer. Most likely, the seller will make a counter-offer, but that doesn’t mean you cannot make a new offer. Going back and forth too much can cause problems, so it is better to meet the seller half way.

Obtain the Right Mortgage Loan

Depending on your budget, you will have to decide between a fixed-rate and an adjustable-rate mortgage loan as well as the loan term. If you can’t afford a large monthly payment, your best choice is to get a 30-year mortgage loan. However, you should keep in mind that the shorter the loan term is, the less you will be paying in interest overall.

You might also qualify for different types of loans that are designed to help those with lower incomes, such as an FHA or a VA loan. These types of loans are geared towards certain people, so you should do a little research before applying for one of these loans to be sure that you fit the criteria.

Close on Your New Home and Move In

Before closing on your mortgage loan, you should get a home inspection to make sure that there are no major issues with your new home. This is one place where you wouldn’t want to try to save money, because finding a problem like roof damage before it’s too late can save you a lot of money in the future. Closing costs will be fairly high, but you will only have to pay them once.

After everything is paid and signed, you can start to move in. You can use a moving company, or just do everything yourself with the help of your friends and family.

Buying a home is not a scary process once you get to know the basics. Of course, you can always encounter some unpleasant surprises along the way, but a little research goes a long way when buying your first home.

The Latest Mortgage Rates

  • Richard Wieland, RE/MAX 1st

    Good overview of the key steps. I sent it to my prospective Central New Jersey homebuyers.