Whether you are buying a home for the first time or thinking of upgrading from a condo or town home to a larger single dwelling or downsizing to a smaller home or from a house to a condo, home buyers should be advised, or reminded, of at least 7 things before purchasing a home:
- Get Your Credit Score Up. Your credit rating or score is the single most important factor in the rate you can obtain from a lender and the amount of your monthly payments. Most home buyers will need and want to be pre-approved for a loan to be a serious bidder for a home. Once you get your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus, review them for any reporting errors or records and take the necessary steps to correct them. If you have a record of delinquent payments, focus on making payments on time for a while and consider delaying your home buying plans until you get your credit score to at least 650.
- What House do You Need? There may always be houses that you want, but not that you need. If your family is growing, you may want another bedroom and a spacious backyard. Do you have pets? Is there a dog park nearby? Some people want a gourmet kitchen or lots of closet and storage space. Is it a place you can grow old in gracefully? Consider how many stairs there are, where is your washer and dryer going to be, is there a shower that is easy to get in and out of? You may not get all you want, but prioritize and also know what you can afford.
- Budgeting. You should obtain a mortgage that you are capable of paying while having enough discretionary funds for maintaining the home, paying your property taxes, insurance and meeting your family’s needs. This might require adhering to a strict budget so that you do not start missing monthly payments that can quickly accumulate.
- Where Do You Want to Live. Some homes look magnificent with a spacious lot, vast closet space and other amenities but your work commute might take two hours, the schools are nearing bankruptcy, there is little going on downtown and a new highway is planned to be built a few hundred yards away, how far is it way from your children or grandchildren. Always do your research on what a new location means for your children and yourself and have a reliable and knowledgeable realtor who will honesty advise you about the area in which you are considering a move.
- Does the House Need Work? You may have gotten a great deal on the house knowing that it needs a little work, but do you know what a “little” work really means? Also, are you that competent at making those repairs yourself and have you researched what permits you will need? If you plan on contractors performing the repairs or improvements, you will need one you can trust. In the end, the costs, time and headaches may not be worth the money you thought you were saving.
- The Down Payment. Many lenders require a 20% down payment but there are public and private lenders who do offer low-interest mortgages with a smaller percentage of a down payment. You do have to qualify but it pays to research these lenders and consider their terms.
- Hire Your Own Home Inspector. Once your offer is accepted, hire a competent home inspector, preferably an engineer or an experienced home contractor whom you know or who has been referred to you by someone you trust. The closing will have contingencies and having a home inspection should be one of them. If major structural problems are found, or if there are potential problems, you might reconsider buying or at least ask that the seller pay to remedy the problem first. Should you have concerns about the house, consult with a real estate lawyer about your legal options.
Retain Patricia Bloom-McDonald, a Massachusetts Real Estate Lawyer
Purchasing a home is probably the largest investment you will ever make, so why not ensure that you are prepared for the process, know your legal rights, and have someone who can advise you if something goes awry. Patricia Bloom-McDonald has been representing the interests of home buyers and sellers for years and has earned the trust of her clients in these life-altering transactions. Call her today for a free, initial consultation.