The good old-fashioned American Dream is as evident today as it was in 1776: own a piece of property to call home. If you are on the road to achieving that dream, congratulations! Nobody’s experience is exactly the same, but there are some truths about buying your first house that everybody finds out while going through the process.
Your Credit Score Makes or Breaks You
Qualifying for a mortgage is the first step to home ownership. Find a mortgage lender with a reputable company like Sun West Mortgage. Once you are in contact with a lender, they will run your credit score and tell you one of two things:
- How much you qualify for or
- How much improvement you need before you qualify.
Your credit score is the most important factor when you decide to buy a home. In most states, you must have a credit score of at least 650 to qualify for a mortgage. If your score is not as high as you had hoped for, don’t beat yourself up. Ask your lender for advice or reach out to Sun West Mortgage and start working on it immediately.
Find an Agent
This can be a tricky thing to do if you are a first-timer. Some helpful advice:
- Do research. Look online and read reviews. Find out what agents have a good repertoire in your area.
- Ask around. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. Do you have family or friends that can recommend a good agent?
- Request appointments. Interview several agents and get to know them before deciding on one. Get a feel for their strategies and how they conduct business.
Be Realistic and Know the Market
Understand the limitations of your budget and be realistic when making your must-have list. Know how much house you can afford with what you qualify for, and consider the market in the location you plan to buy in. You might find yourself caught off guard by how much or how little you actually can afford if you do not do research ahead of time.
- For example, if you qualify for $130,000 and are looking in the Seattle suburbs, it is not likely that you will find a 5-bedroom, 3,800 square foot home within your budget. In a location like South Carolina, however, that is a more realistic number for a home that size.
Avoid Getting Hangry When House Hunting
“Hangry” is a term for how you feel when you have not eaten and your blood sugar begins to drop; you start to feel hungry and angry! This can muddle your thoughts and put you in a bad mood. Don’t underestimate what a lengthy process that house hunting can be. If you have a whole day full of homes to look at, pack snacks. These can be as simple as a Ziploc of peanut butter crackers or a granola bar, but please remember to eat. Your agent and any partner with you will be grateful.
Don’t Let Making an Offer Scare You
Once you find the house you decide you can’t live without, making the actual offer is a nerve-wracking process. This is especially true if you have found The House and have your heart set on it.
- Heed your agent’s advice when it comes to what number is fair. Remember that you are paying them good money to give you their expertise. Use it.
- It can take anywhere from one hour to three days to hear back from the seller. If you don’t hear an answer immediately, that does not mean your offer was declined!
Buying your first home is an accomplishment that so many people dream of. Knowing what to expect beforehand can help prepare you for the journey ahead.