By Zarine Torrey, Mortgage Loan Officer
One of the most stressful decisions in your life will also be one of the most important decisions in your life. It’s not picking the right college or choosing the perfect partner, but it’s choosing your home! It can be overwhelming, but if you put these tips in action you can make the process of finding your dream home manageable.
Consider your finances – buying a home is a big purchase and a big commitment. Make sure you are comfortable making that mortgage payment and if needed, you are comfortable with putting money aside for home improvements. Lenders like to see stable income for at least two years to gauge if you can afford a payment. It’s also wise to have money saved up to show the lender you have reserves to pull from to pay the mortgage if you lose income.
Get a pre-approval letter – before you start looking for a home, reach out to a mortgage lender to get an idea of how much of a home you can qualify for and if you will be comfortable with that monthly mortgage payment. Getting a pre-approval letter will allow you to partner with a real estate agent to start the search.
Wants and needs – sit down and make a list of items that you want in a home. No need is out of the question! This will help you focus on finding the right home and alleviating any frustration. Do you want to be in a good school district for the kids? Do you want three bedrooms and a two-car garage? Do you want a pool or a lake view? Do you want to live closer to the airport?
Search online – though you will be trusting your realtor to direct you to your dream home, you should also take the initiative to do some research on your own. You may think one area is better than another, but not realize there may be other options out there too. By searching sites such as Redfin, Zillow or Trulia, you can also get an idea of what types of homes are for sale within your budget and desired location.
Keep an open mind – no matter what your needs and wants list is, reality is that you will not find the perfect home unless you build it yourself. Be willing to compromise. It will be frustrating but you will discover what is most important to you. Don’t settle and think you can figure it out later. Trust your gut; something better may open up. There also will be a time where your offer is not accepted. There are many homes out there and yours will be there too.
Putting a game plan together will help keep you focused on the prize. With self-discovery and preparation you will be on your way to homeownership!