The home buying process can be an intense journey, but it's much easier when you have a clear path and clear expectations.
In today's competitive real estate market, timing is everything!!!! Many good properties are sold before they are ever advertised. Cash Buyers are welcomed.
Preparing your finances is the very first step in buying a home. This will allow you to find the price range that fits your budget before you start looking at homes. If you begin your home search in a higher price range than you are approved for, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Start preparing your finances right from the start and you'll be ready for the next step. Here are 5 important tips to help you through the home financing process:
Know Your Credit History
Some people may just assume that their credit is good enough to buy a house because they have never had a late payment. Others may be afraid to check their credit because they assume that it's so bad that they could never qualify. Both could be wrong. No matter what your situation is, you need to check your credit history and know your credit before buying a home. It doesn't matter how good or bad you are with money, all that matters is what's on your credit history. If you find something on your credit history that is incorrect, be sure to resolve it before buying a house.
Calculate Your Debt-to-Income
Your debt-to-income ratio is one of the main criteria a mortgage lender will consider when determining your loan pre-approval. This number is found by comparing your average monthly debt (bills, taxes, etc.) to your average monthly income. Often, mortgage lenders don't want higher than a 43% debt to income ratio. Here's an example of how to calculate your debt to income. For example if your mortgage payment is $2,000 per month and your auto and credit card payments are $1,000 per month, your total debt is $3,000. For brevity we will assume that these are your only monthly debts. If your income is $7,000 per month, your debt-to-income would be 43% ($3,000 [debt] % $7,000 [income] = 43%). That is right at the limit.
Gather Your Tax, Financial, & Employment Documents
When you apply for a mortgage, the loan officer will ask you for previous years tax returns, employment verification forms, and previous month's bank statements. It's good to have this information accessible before looking at homes. Some lenders may not ask for these documents until you are under contract. If you are asked for these documents later and you cannot provide them in a timely manner, it could affect your ability to purchase the home. Make sure you have all of your key documents ready, and preferably get them to your loan officer before you put a contract on a home.
Find A Mortgage Lender
Now that you have checked your credit, calculated your debt-to-income, and have gathered all your financial docs, you're ready to talk to mortgage loan officer. There are MANY loan officers to choose from. Be sure to take your time and find the one that works best for you. Closing costs, interest rates, and speed of closing are all good items to ask your loan officer about. Most REALTORS® will have lenders who they can recommend as well. Be sure to contact a few different ones to compare rates and personality types. Choose one that you feel comfortable working with. You will be communicating with them often throughout the process of your home purchase.
Complete Your Loan Pre-Approval
In order to be treated as a legitimate buyer when you are out looking at homes, you will need to have a pre-approval letter ready from your lender. Once you have gone through all of the steps above and found a good mortgage lender, it's time to finalize your pre-approval. Make sure that your lender has thoroughly investigated your finances. Some lenders will do a basic mortgage pre-qualification that is based off of minimal questioning. This can mean problems later when you are actually under contract to purchase. A full mortgage pre-approval will help guarantee that your financing doesn't fall apart later while you are halfway into the home buying process.
Now that you have prepared your finances and found a home, it's time to close the transaction and get the keys! These items need to be handled in a timely manner. Your REALTOR® will help guide you through each step. You can use this section as a reference as you are moving through the final steps of buying your new home.
Once you have submitted an offer on a home, it's possible that you will receive a counteroffer from the seller. You will need to negotiate the terms of the contract, such as the closing date, seller concessions, appraisal deadlines, inspection deadlines, repairs, etc. Your REALTOR® will guide you through all of your options and make everything clear. There are many different variables to negotiate on a sales contract, so take your time and be sure to think through every option. Once you're under contract it's very difficult, if not impossible, to change things later.
Deposit Earnest Money
Once you have an executed sales contract signed by both parties, you will need to submit your earnest money. Earnest money is kind of like a down payment for the transaction. Sellers want more than just a signed contract before they take their house off of the market. Earnest money proves to the sellers that you are a serious buyer and ready to purchase a home. The earnest money is credited back to you at closing, or will default to the seller if you cannot perform the details of the sales contract.
Most contracts are written with an inspection period to allow the buyer time to hire a home inspector and have the property thoroughly inspected. There are many different types of inspections, such as radon, mold, pest, structural, and full home inspections. Having an inspection performed is one of the most important parts of the home buying process. Make sure that you allow plenty of time to get all of your inspections done within the days allotted in your sales contract. Once you are past inspections, you're almost done!
The appraisal is one of the last steps in the home buying process. Mortgage companies require appraisals to verify that the loan amount they are providing is equal to, or better than the appraised value of the home. It's protection for the lender. If the house does not appraise at value, then the contract will either be terminated or renegotiated. Be sure to have the appraisal ordered as soon as your inspections are done. Delayed appraisals are one of the main causes of late closings.
Close The Transaction
Once you are past the inspections and appraisal process, you can set up a closing time with your title company and the other party. Be sure to bring your driver's license (or passport) to closing, along with any monetary items required by the sales contract and/or lender. Once both parties have signed all of the documents and the mortgage company has funded the loan, you will get the keys. You are now the proud owner of your new home.
My professional credentials include: Real Estate Industry since 2000, Registered HUD sales, Real Estate Instructor, Master of Business Adminstration, competetitive spirit, focused determination to do my very best for my clients and customers, strong work ethic and personal integrity.
Remember that money isn't (always) everything. Even in a market where inventory is tight and sellers aren't negotiating much, you still have some leverage. That starts with minimizing the seller's potential headaches. If you have attractive financing--a pre-approved loan from a reliable lender, a large downpayment- OR - finalized all required documents for DownPayment Assistance/advised to go shop for a home-- say so. If you can close on the seller's schedule--whether that means quickly or letting him stay an extra month--do it.
I invite you to contact me, as I'd be happy to assist you with this important transaction.
In addition, if you have any general questions about buying or selling real estate in Georgia, please contact me.
Please browse my website for listings, reports and important real estate information.
Carol Ferguson, Real Estate Broker
CF Brokerage INC (770) 478-1585-O
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CF Brokerage of AZ INC.