10 steps to buying your first home this spring.
Spring and Summer are usually the peak home buying seasons. There are several reasons for the uptick, from nice weather to school schedules to work cycles, but the end result is that there are about to be more homes on the market and more sellers look at them. If you’re looking for your first home, it can be an intimidating time to jump in, but at the same time, you’ll find your best home selection in the next few months. So, how should you get started?
- Figure out how much house you can afford. If you’re currently paying rent you can start by using that as a base for your housing expenses. You can also check out online calculators like this one to estimate what monthly payment you can afford, and from there, how much house you can afford. Remember, though, that there are additional costs to home ownership than just your house payment.
- Take a look at your assets. The days of zero down loans are behind us now, so buying a new home requires some sort of hard currency. Most home loans require between 3% and 20% down depending on your credit and loan program. If you’ve got some down payment money saved up, you’re set. Often the down payment money comes from the sale of a previous home, but if you don’t have one you may have to get more creative. A good income tax rebate or a couple months of careful saving can also make up a decent down payment.
- Do a little research. You’re not trying to get an exhaustive overview of the entire housing market, but take a look at where you want to live and what kind of home you can afford there. The same house will have different prices depending on whether it’s in New Philadelphia, Dennison or out in the country. If you can do some minor repairs yourself, you may also be able to get even more house for your money. Don’t worry too much about the details at this point. All you need is enough information to be able to decide what else you need to know. Taking a look online at a half dozen houses in your price range is just fine. Our home search at McInturfRealty.net even includes a breakdown of the monthly mortgage payments for each house you look at.
- Get pre-approval for a loan. Without a pre-approval, all the house shopping in the world is just dreaming. We have several local banks that have been great to deal with regarding home loans, while some national banks are a little tougher. If you’re looking for a recommendation, feel free to call the McInturf Realty office at 330-364-6648 and we can help point you in the right direction. But no matter which bank you go to, they’ll take a look at your credit history, income levels and current debts and give you a letter in which they’ve agreed to give you a loan up to whatever amount you’ve qualified for. This letter makes the rest of the home buying process much simpler.
- Now it’s time to talk to an agent. Of course, we’re always happy to help at any stage of the home buying process, but after this point things get a little more complicated and an experienced real estate agent can really help smooth things out. We may be biased, but at McInturf Realty we have some of the best agents in the county. In fact, we have 15 of the top 31 agents in the county at last count. We also help buy and sell more homes than anyone else in Tuscarawas County. With more than 2 dozen real estate professionals, we can help you find the right partner for your home buying journey. Your agent will dig through your requirements and provide you a list of everything on the market that fits your criteria. They may even know of houses that haven’t quite hit the market yet or where the seller may be open to a little negotiating. They can even set up a system to notify you when homes you might be interested in come up for sale.
- Visit some open houses. Even if the house that’s open isn’t exactly what you would want, walking through several houses will help you get a feel for the real estate market and what homes are worth in our area. In addition, you might see some things that you know you want in your new home, or some things you definitely want to steer clear of.
- Schedule some visits to homes you are considering purchasing. This is the part we picture when we think of buying a home. Let your agent know which houses you like and they’ll coordinate with the owner’s agent and find a time to check out the home that fits your schedule. This is a fun time, so feel free to take notes and even pictures to help you remember details that you loved for each home.
- Make an offer. Sometimes it’s the first house you look at. Other times it’s the twenty-first house, but eventually you’ll take a look at a place you love. Then you and your agent can talk through what they’re asking for the house, what it’s worth and what size offer you can make. There are also considerations like offer contingencies and allowances, but your agent will talk you through it. Then your agent will prepare your offer and present it to the seller’s agent.
- Now we negotiate. Once you’ve made an offer, the ball is in the home seller’s court. Of course, as with every negotiation, they’ll respond with an acceptance, a rejection or a counter offer. Your agent will come to you with the owner’s response and, in the case of a rejection or a counter offer, help you come up with a response that they’ll then present to the seller’s agent. Usually this is a quick process and occasionally it’s a little more drawn out, but we’ll stick with it until we get an answer everyone can live with.
- Close on your new home. After you find the perfect place and reach a successfully negotiated price, you’ll close on the house. At the closing, your agent will look over the paperwork and make sure it’s what you’ve agreed to, then you’ll get to sign. Then at their own closing the seller will sign their paperwork and the deal is done. Possession of the actual home usually doesn’t occur until a later date, often 60 days later in order to process the paperwork and give the sellers time to find a new place to live and move out.
Of course, there’s a little more to it than that, but that’s the process in a fairly large nutshell. This could be the year that you finally own your own home. If you’re headed in that direction, make the call to McInturf Realty and we’ll help you get there.