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Buyer’s Guide

Your Guide to Homeownership

When you are looking to purchase your first or next home, there are plenty of things that you will need to do in order to position yourself for the best experience. We put together this guide to help you get ready.

Pay Down Your Debt

Before you start the home buying process, you must make certain that your credit score is in good enough standing. Anything above a 720 is considered good, but today you can still get a home with a score in the low 600’s (sometimes lower) if you connect with the right lender. The first step to improving your credit score and your appeal to lenders is to pay down your debt and improve your credit score. Getting ready to buy a house also means that you should not:

– Make any large purchases
– Open new lines of credit
– Move money around from one account to another

Start Saving Up

To get the best mortgage rates possible, it is recommended that you have a 20% down payment ready. This is ideal; however, with today’s rates and lending regulations you may be able to purchase a home and get a loan with as little as 3.5% to 5% down. But remember, the larger your down payment, the lower your monthly payments will be. Save up money by:

– Make a full budget of all of your monthly expenses
– See where you can lower or eliminate spending
– Make your own meals and cut down on eating out at restaurants
– Buckle down and make the decision to not go to that concert or the movies

Find the Right REALTOR & Mortgage Lender

You’ll want to be sure that you work with a real estate agent who is an expert on the area that you want to purchase your home in. Those in-the-know will understand current market trends, neighborhood characteristics, the school districts, local amenities, shops, and entertainment. They will also be able to help you find the perfect home, make a smart offer, and negotiate the right price. You should interview your REALTOR before signing a contract. Ask them questions like:

– How available will you be when we have questions?
– Are you a full-time REALTOR?
– What’s the housing market like right now in this area?
– How are the schools? (whether or not you have kids, this impacts home value and resale)

Then, before you even start shopping for homes, you’ll want to find the right lender with the best rates for you. They will look at your income, debt, credit score, and other variables and then be able to give you loan options. It’s smart to shop around and talk to more than one lender as many have access to varying options. Don’t just settle because your REALTOR or lender says that you are getting the best deal possible. You might not be.