How do you decide what the perfect home is? One thing to consider and probably the most important thing is price. You want to know how much you can qualify for and how much money you will need for a down payment. You do not want to be house poor – by that I mean you want to be able to do things other than just make a house payment.
The first step is to talk to a lender and find out what you can qualify for. Make sure you understand what is involved in the process. If you are looking for a single family home, you will need to consider taxes and insurance in your payment – plus mortgage insurance depending on the type of loan you are doing. If you are looking for a condo or townhome, you also need to include association dues in that payment. I have had clients that may be approved for a certain amount for a home, but if they go to buy a townhome, they need to look at lower prices. The association dues may affect what your total mortgage can be. Make sure you know the maximum your payment can be and work with that number. Sometimes the area you are looking in can also affect your mortgage amount – the property taxes may be higher in one city compared to another.
Once you know those numbers, you can house hunt! Then you need to figure out what else you want in a home – how many bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. Can you live with a one or two car garage? I have one client that I teased – I said you want a garage with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen attached! He knew what he was looking for and a large garage was very important to him. There are others that do not care about it. Consider your hobbies and what space you need in the home.
Location may also be important to you. Maybe it's the school district. Make a list of the things that are important to you, let your realtor know what they are and then go shopping. Depending on what you are looking for, it may be easy to find or you may have to shop for a while! Depending on the price range in the area here, it may take several offers before you get the house you want. We just had one client make an offer on a home this week and there were a total of 18 offers on that one home!
Shopping for a home can be exciting and very stressful at the same time. By planning ahead, you can make it an easier time for you! Make sure you get your questions answered by your loan officer and your realtor. The more information you have, the easier your search can be!