1. Get pre-approved: Before you jump on the web or jump in your car to look at houses, have a talk with a lender or 2, remember, you are “shopping” for the best home loan you can get! Find out how much house you can afford and what your interest rate will be. Check out what your monthly payment will be at different interest rates and different down payments. You want to be pre-approved and ready to buy the home of your dreams when you see it!
2. Now that you know what you can afford, know what you want. The home buying process can be stressful. If you know what you want in a house and what you are willing to compromise on, the home buying experience will be far easier.
3. Start researching: Drive around, hit some Open Houses, go online, check out crime, walk scores and schools and narrow your search to 3 or 4 neighborhoods that you want to live in.
4. Have a timeline: If you need to clean up your credit first, factor that in. Plan to buy a house in 3 months or 6 months or whenever it is best based on your situation, and then set and stick to your timeline.
5. What does the future hold: Do you want to buy a starter house and move in 3 or 4 years or buy a house that will be your home for the next 10 or 20 years?
6. Remember this is a big investment: Not only will you be making a mortgage payment but there is the care and maintenance of your new home. You may need new furniture or appliances and unless you included your taxes and insurance in your house payment, these expenses have to be met.
7. Work with a REALTOR: Discuss with your agent all of these items and let that agent help you find your new home. Your agent should be a strong negotiator for you and help you get the home of your dreams at the very best price.
8. Get a home inspection: The home of your dreams may be a hidden nightmare. A home inspection will help you know what you are buying.