Buying a Home Checklist
Our goal is to get you the right price for the right home in the right location. If you are buying, we advise you to organize your home needs into three categories — budget, requirements for the house you want, and requirements for the neighborhood or community.
The Right Price
One of the first questions Stephen or Stefan will ask you in preparation for your home search is: What is your budget? There are several important factors which figure into that number.
- Your monthly income and ability to meet a monthly mortgage payment, including property taxes — which can vary greatly from municipality to municipality.
- The stability of your employment, if that is a significant portion of your income.
- If you are currently a renter, remember you will become your own landlord. You will need resources to cover repairs and maintenance. The amount of these costs will depend on the condition of the house you purchase.
- What cash do you have on-hand for a down payment and will making the down payment still leave you cash for emergencies? Ideally, you want a 20 percent down payment, although many mortgages now do not require that amount. Remember that the less you put down the higher your monthly mortgage payment will be.
- Will you be eliminating any costs associated with renting, such a renting a parking space or renters insurance?
The experts say that ideally you do not want your mortgage payment to be higher than 30 percent of your gross income, and that your down payment should be 20 percent of the purchase price. However, there are special programs for first time home buyers and veterans that have different requirements. To get a better idea of how much you can afford and to get a preapproval letter, we recommend talking to the home loan professionals at Creekside Mortgage, Inc.
The Right House
The dream is to find a house that has everything you want within your budget. In case your dreams are a little bigger than your budget, it is important to prioritize your requirements. Put them into the following categories:
For example, is a single-family home a must, or would a townhouse suffice? You may absolutely need a three-bedroom, but a fourth would be nice. And an open floor plan would be great. Make a list of everything you could possibly want in your home and then drop each item into one of the three categories. Make sure to include items such as type of house (ranch, etc.), the number of cars the garage can hold, size of front and backyard, outdoor entertainment space such as a patio or deck, and type of roof. Having your requirements prioritized will allow to you adjust your expectations once you are out and about with your realtor for showings. It also helps prevent you from making compromises that you will regret later down the road.
The Right Location
For some buyers, the location of their home can be more important than the house itself. Your family’s well-being depends in part on being comfortable in the community where you live.
Just like with your requirements for your home, prioritize the features you’re looking for in a community. These may include:
- Quality of school district
- Type of neighborhood (old, new, wooded, subdivision, etc)
- Access to highways or regional transportation
- Demographic diversity
- Property taxes
- Community services and leadership/government
If you have the time, you should research the various communities that you think are good options and then prioritize those communities based on the features you are looking for. A lot of that research can be done online, but there is nothing like seeing neighborhoods and communities with your own eyes. Take a drive around.
We know buying a home is an emotional decision, so some of these priorities might change if you walk into a home and it is love at first sight, but putting some thought up-front into what you are looking for will be helpful and speed up your search.