Families save up for years to upgrade their homes or exit the rental market, so finalizing a contract on a new home can feel like a huge achievement. Unfortunately, it usually comes at the end of a long road of paperwork, all variety of checks and many stressful days. It can be difficult to navigate, but with the right approach and a little planning the home buying process can be made far simpler. Here are three things to keep in mind if you’re considering buying a home.
1. Step up your finances.
Financial health is a must have for anyone looking to purchase a new home. The process for securing a line of credit—whether through one of several mortgage products or by obtaining home equity loans that capitalize on the value in your current assets—can be daunting. The real estate market is liquid, but the capital required to engage in it has made banks careful lenders, especially after the recent housing market crash.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to become a borrower today, even if you don’t need to. Getting a credit card and making sure to pay off any credit card debts in a timely fashion will show a history of responsible borrowing, which is a great first step. Obviously, saving is essential, but a measured approach to buying with cash versus borrowed money is a strong indicator of financial savvy and creditworthiness that financial institutions are looking for before releasing loan funds. Building your credit score takes years of work, because one important factor in the calculation is the age of your lines of credit. Opening a credit card with a credit union or other bank as soon as you are able, regardless of the interest rate extended to you, is the best way to maximize the lifetime of your credit. Remember to use the card it wisely and pay it off on time. Otherwise, it will be to the detriment of your credit score instead of to its advantage.
Once you have established yourself as a trustworthy borrower, building a savings portfolio should be the next item on your list. Again, this can take years, so becoming a homeowner truly starts years before you start deciding how many bathrooms your dream house has and what you want the dining room to look like.
2. Find the perfect location.
Once you’ve put in the time to get a great credit score, the search for a home can become a lot of fun! With the right financial background you can focus on your list of desires and choose the perfect property in a great location, meeting all your hopes and expectations. You may be a city dweller looking for that top floor apartment with a great room and full bath off the master bedroom. Or, you may be seeking a cabin to escape the grind of a hard week’s work. Either way, the options are out there. For instance, mountain homes for sale across the country are affordably priced and can make a great addition to your lifestyle and portfolio of real estate assets.
This includes considerations for your family’s needs as well. Finding a home away from the noise pollution of major roadways or one zoned for the best schools in the area for your children are all essential components of the search. Honing in on the right location and the right property can be a great family activity since everyone in your household will be taking advantage of the local surroundings. Think of it as a family treasure hunt, and the treasure is your home.
Make your house into a home.
The last piece of the puzzle is a personal touch. There’s no point in buying a house that doesn’t feel like home for you and your family; it will only create unnecessary stress. When you view a home, you need to make sure to take the time to visualize yourself in the space for the long term. You will, of course, bring in your own furniture, decorations and style, but the space will remain the same. Learning its twists and turns is an instructive way to determine if the property is right for you or if you should pass on it.
Buying a new home requires patience and perseverance, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be an exciting time in your life. Prepare for the rigors early in order to fully enjoy the process.