Tips to Buying your First Home: ‘Steps to Success’
Buying a home can be either one of the best or worst decisions you ever make and when you decide to give it a try, it is a thought-provoking process. A process that some people may have a hard time understanding.
Last year, we bought a home. When you have 2 eager kids, it is hard to give them a perspective of the home buying process. Especially when they are 8 and 5. When we were in the middle of the process, to simplify things, I told them this:
-When we go pick up groceries, we place our items in the cart, head to the checkout, pay for our items and then go home. It is quick and pretty simple.
-When we go buy a car, we spend a little more time at the car dealership, pick a car out, fill out paperwork, and usually within a few hours, we take the car home.
-When buying a home, you find a house, fill out paperwork, fill out more paperwork, and hopefully within a few weeks, you can move in.
This little example was key for my kids because it gave them the perspective of how much things cost and it helped them be patient as we were waiting to get our keys to our home.
BUT, we could not have made it through the process without these ‘steps to success’ in buying a home. Luckily, I had a good friend to help in this process (and he was our loan officer, David Boye). He answered all our questions, helped us get on track and have realistic expectations.
So, what are these ‘steps to success’?
1 – Know what you want…..what you need…..and the difference between the two.
This is important. We all may have in our mind what our ‘dream home’ looks like, but if that includes a pool, guest house and 6 bedroom home, you may want to re-think what your ideal home is. It is necessary to list out what you need (as in amount of bedrooms/bathrooms), what would be ‘nice to have’ and then anything else would be a ‘bonus’.
2 – Stick to a budget, apply early, and verify the loan before committing to a home purchase
Who you choose to handle your finances is important. Create dialog with your Loan Officer and be upfront. The Loan Officer can help you determine what you can afford and how it fits into your wants and needs list for a home. The earlier you involve the Loan Officer, the smoother the process will be to purchase a home. At Black Diamond Mortgage, we work to match individuals with the best product for their needs, so it is important to start this process early on in the home buying process. Begin loan application!
3 – With your Loan Officer, explore different loan options
There is no shortage of loan options. A lot can hinge on how much of a down payment you can afford. The higher the down payment, the higher the loan can be and/or at a better rate. Can you afford a higher monthly payment? Consider getting a 15 year mortgage, rather than a 30. That way you get a better interest rate, and will have your house paid off much sooner! Also, if you are a veteran, apply for a VA loan for additional benefits. If you are of lower income, be sure to apply for an FHA loan. If you are in a more rural area, explore the USDA loan. Also, be sure to talk to one of our loan officers to see if a fixed or an adjustable rate is better for you. The Loan Officers at Black Diamond Mortgage will help you know which loan is best for you!
4 – Pick the right home. Find the right Realtor
Your Realtor should know the market and help you find what you need off of your ‘needs and wants’ list. Make sure your realtor knows what you are looking for. Stay in communication with them if this list changes and also let them know if a certain property you find has something in it you like.
5 – Be decisive. Don’t get overloaded
It is necessary to look at a variety of homes to find the perfect match BUT it is not necessary to do it all in one day…… Take time to really ‘visualize’ each home and how you see yourself in it. Only view a few properties at a time and be sure to gather all the information on each one so you can compare with your wants and needs list.
6 – Don’t make any other purchases involving credit during this process
Keep your sights focused on getting approved for the house loan. If you buy a car or a boat, or anything else on credit, it can significantly decrease your chances of getting a mortgage.
7 – Win! Make the Offer
Once you found your dream home, make the offer. Your Realtor can help you with this process. Once the offer is made, speak with your Loan Officer and the ‘real’ paperwork starts for the loan process. Appraisals are ordered, any inspections needed are ordered. All the while your loan is being finalized for you. Any documentation needed by you will be collected and verified with the Lender.
8 – Closing
Your Loan Officer and Real Estate Agent have been working to make sure all the necessary steps have taken place. At this point you have provided all the necessary documentation and you are almost ready to move in. Recent laws require that you see your final loan terms and costs at least 3 days before you close on the loan, so it is important to allow for this time near the end of your transaction, if time is tight near the end of the process.
9 – Moving In
Yes, this was a “process” but now you are in your new home! It was worth every step (just remember what I had to tell my kids).
Don’t forget to take a photo of your new home and share with your Loan Officer and Real Estate Agent. We literally live and breathe off of the referrals of friends, family and past clients, and we love seeing those smiles!
By Maria Phelps
Loan Officer and Operations Manager for Black Diamond Mortgage as well as new home owner!
Special Thanks to Seth Price, Realtor of Clearwater Properties of Montana