By Shirvan Joseph, Diversity Manager/Loan Officer, TowneBank Mortgage
Buying a home is a huge milestone, and it is important to educate yourself about the process of buying a home before you dive in headfirst. After all, this is likely the largest investment that you will ever make. It is important to choose a house and a mortgage that you don’t regret.
Does Homeownership Fit Your Lifestyle?
To answer that, you’ll want to first reflect on your income. Is it reliable? A mortgage is a huge commitment, and having a steady income is something that will give you peace of mind that you can continue to make your mortgage payments on time.
You’ll also want to consider if you’ll be staying in the same area for the next five years. This is, on average, the amount of time that it takes to break even on a home purchase.
The next point you will want to think about: Whether you’re ready to maintain a home. This means regular upkeep and maintenance on the interior and exterior.
What Do You Want in a Home?
Consult with friends, family, and your real estate agent to create a list of “must-haves” and a “wish list.”
Typically, must-haves include location, bed and bath count, square footage, yard size, kitchen size, and layout.
When considering location, ask if you’d like to be near parks, restaurants, shopping, your workplace, friends, and family or other places that are integral to your life?
You’ll also want to consider school zones if you have or plan to have school-aged children in the next several years.
How Much Can You Spend?
Once you’ve figured out what you want and need in a home, it’s time to speak with a local lender about what you can afford based on your circumstances.
You will discuss how much you are comfortable putting down on a home, and how much you’d like to spend on a monthly mortgage payment.
That not only gives you a great sense of comfort in shopping, it will also help your negotiation with the seller.
Once you have worked with your lender to figure out a monthly payment and approximate sales price, and you’ve started the process of finding a great agent, it’s time to look at what properties are available in the areas you are interested in.
While browsing online is easy and convenient, it is important to note that these sites are not always up-to-date and with a hot real estate market, a real estate agent will be much more valuable in helping you to find properties as soon as they come available on the market. They also have a pulse on the local market and know of homes that are not on the market yet but are soon to be listed.
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