Purchasing a house is an exciting life event, yet it can be intimidating. From finding the right location to meeting all of your lifestyle needs, there are multiple factors to consider when deciding on your ideal home. Although the process may feel long, it does not have to be difficult! Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a previous homebuyer, consider the following tips before embarking on your house-buying journey.
1. Understand Your Budget and Credit Score
The first step to take in the home buying process is creating a budget that includes your current and anticipated expenses, along with your income. Include all items in an organized list so you can clearly see what you are saving each month, and how much you have to spend on a house. Also, it's important to know your credit score, and understand how you can maintain a high score—this will help in making the house-buying process smoother.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
The next step in the home-buying process is applying for a mortgage. The pre-approval process will allow you to know the amount you're approved for, determining the size of your loan. The pre-approval will give you a good indication on what you can afford, however, compare it to your budget to ensure both are aligned. Some of the items needed for pre-approval are proof of income, credit score, employment verification, and proof of assets.
3. Work With a Real Estate Agent
Enlist help from a real estate agent—they understand the current market, and are experts in the real estate industry. When you're looking for a real estate agent don't be afraid to ask questions on their experience, and knowledge of your desired area. It's important that you feel comfortable with your real estate agent, and trust that they are advocates for you in this process.
4. Think Long-Term
When looking for a home, ask yourself—do you see yourself living there in five years? Will it work for your lifestyle right now and in the future? Since no one can predict the future, it's not realistic to know definitively that a house will fit every need going forward, but consider what is important to you now and what you think will be important in a few years. This will help in finding a house that aligns with your developing lifestyle, and potentially growing family.
5. Determine "Must-Haves"
Checking all the boxes when looking at houses is a daunting task, and trying to make a house fit all of your needs from day one can seem downright impossible. To find a house within your price range that fits as many of your needs as possible, determine your absolute "must-haves." Whether it's an attached garage, four bedrooms, or a quiet location, identify what you can't live without.
6. Buy a House You Can Afford
Use your updated budget to determine how much you can and would like to spend. Having a clear price that you do not want to go above can help to ensure you only look at houses within your price range. Also, depending on where you look and the current state of the housing market, house prices may end up selling higher than the asking price.
7. Identify What You Need to Remodel
Consider what features of the house you love and which ones you'd like to potentially change. If most of the items you want to remodel are costly, consider looking at another house. If the remodeling consists of less costly items, such as painting or changing smaller light fixtures, that could still fit within your budget.
8. Consider Additional Costs
When it comes time to purchase a house, consider any other costs in addition to the actual house price. These costs can significantly increase the amount of money needed when finalizing your purchase. Some costs to consider are realtor fees, homeowners' insurance, taxes, and closing costs. Accounting for these costs can help you better align with your overall budget.
9. Don't Feel Pressured
Buying a house is likely the largest financial decision you will encounter, so make the decision that's best for you and your family. If one particular house doesn't fit your budget or plan, don't force it. You will find a house that's right for you when the time is right. Don't feel pressured by the process and make a decision you're uncomfortable with.
10. Understand it May Take Time
With changes in the real estate market, the house buying process may take longer than you think. Home inspections can get pushed out, title searches may take a few days longer, or your closing date may get moved. Try to have patience during this process, and do the best you can to help move forward at a pace that works best for you and your family.
As you begin the home-buying process, utilize North Country Savings Bank as a resource. Whether it's talking to a loan expert, getting pre-approved, discussing your budget, or reviewing your bank accounts, North Country Savings Bank is here to help.