Buying a home is often stressful and exciting at the same time. Understanding the process is key to a successful experience. Presented today by Ask Nod, and myself as a staff writer, the following are the primary aspects of home buying I feel that everyone should be familiar with, as well as a few details that are specific to Veterans.
Before you begin looking for a home, it is important to get your finances in order so that you can get pre-approved for a loan. This pre-approval ensures you know how much you are able to borrow and lets real estate agents know that you are serious. As a Veteran, you have the option of applying for a VA loan. This is a loan partially backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Because of this backing, lenders feel secure offering the loan with no down payment. Before applying, familiarize yourself with current VA mortgage rates.
After you are pre-approved for a loan, it is important to consider how much you can afford. The loan amount you qualify for may not be affordable. Consider all your bills in relation to your income. Make sure to account for repairs and maintenance on the home. A good rule of thumb is that no more than 28% of your total monthly income should go toward a mortgage payment, which generally includes homeowner’s insurance and taxes.
When preparing your finances to buy a home, keep in mind that there may be hidden costs associated with the purchase. These costs include an inspection, appraisal and the VA funding fee for those using a VA loan.
As a Veteran, you may be accustomed to military housing, rentals and frequent moves. Choosing a home to purchase is exciting but may be overwhelming. Even though research shows that over half of all homebuyers find their homes online, real estate agents can be invaluable in your search for the ideal home. They know the area and nuances of the local market. If you are new to the area, they can help you choose a neighborhood that works for you. Pay attention to crime rates, amenities and the school district. Even if you don’t have children, the quality of local schools will affect your home’s resale value.
The best season to buy a home depends on your individual needs. If you have kids, it may be better to move during the summer to avoid disrupting their schooling. More houses are on the market in the spring and summer, but the cooler months tend to offer lower prices. These are generalities, however, and the market may be different in your local area. If you are also selling your home, remember that the best seasons to buy and sell may be different, requiring you to time accordingly.
Once you have found your ideal home, it is time to make it official by closing. This is a paperwork-heavy meeting that finalizes all the details of the purchase. Keep in mind that you should not open any new lines of credit before closing day because this can delay the process.
Watch out for closing scams. Do not transfer money without first speaking to a trusted individual. Do not send sensitive information via email.
A home is often the largest purchase an individual or family ever makes, and it can be one of the most exciting. Understanding the steps involved before getting started helps make the process less stressful and more enjoyable.