How’s the market? How to Reduce the Stress of Buying a Home – Lake County Record-Bee
While buying a home can be exciting, it can also be stressful. For most people, this is the biggest purchase they will ever make. The only way to completely eliminate the stress isn’t to buy, but if you’re committed, here are some tips to make the process go more smoothly.
Prepare your finances
Most of us can’t buy a home without a loan, so the first step in the home buying journey is to make sure your credit is in good shape. To see where you stand, you can check your credit score at creditkarma.com. Information on Credit Karma is not exactly what a lender will see, but it comes close. Credit Karma also gives great advice on how to improve your score with tips like paying off all credit card balances you can, ensuring all bill payments are made on time, and removing any inaccurate derogatory remarks on your credit report.
Just because you qualify for a loan doesn’t mean you have to borrow the maximum available. Being eligible for a loan is not the same as being able to afford it. It is wise to consider all the costs associated with home ownership. Along with the monthly mortgage payments, you’ll have to pay property taxes, home insurance, and any maintenance or repairs that come up (and they will). You will also be responsible for utilities, water bills, internet bills, and other expenses that a landlord might have paid when you were a tenant. Make sure you are comfortable with all of this.
Once you’ve decided on the price range you can manage, you’ll need to save enough money for the down payment and closing costs. If you are buying a house that needs immediate repairs or renovations, you will also need money for that.
To get a loan, you will need to assure lenders that you will repay it, which means providing lots of documents. To minimize stress, don’t wait to gather all the documents that show how much you have and how much you owe. Lenders will ask for copies of your tax returns, pay stubs, car payments, credit card bills, alimony/child support, etc. Note: Only verifiable income will help you get a loan. Earning money on the side by helping your brother-in-law on the weekends might save you money, but it won’t help you qualify for a loan (unless your brother-in-law helps you). provide a 1099 tax form).
Communicate openly with your real estate agent
To find a home in your price range that meets your needs, your real estate agent will need to understand the features you want versus the features you must have. If you are unclear, take the time to make a list. Once you have this list, don’t keep it secret. For example, if you have four children, you can be firm on the number of bedrooms. On the other hand, you may have a first choice for a school, but agree with your second choice as well. This type of information can open up a whole new area for your real estate agent to consider.
Buying a home should include several detailed inspections. I highly recommend calling in the experts, so you know what you’re getting into. Don’t assume you can walk around a property with a flashlight and identify problems, even if you’re pretty good at home repairs.
Hire people who can identify problems and recommend corrective work needed before closing the escrow, including inspections for pests and fungi, septic tanks, wells, roof and house. Not only will a professional do it in less time, but they’re more likely to catch things you’ll forget, like the polarity of an outlet or the sponginess around the toilet hiding dry rot.
Keep the big picture in mind
Because so many factors influence the decision to buy a home, don’t be surprised when you’re forced to choose between two desired features. You may have to forego a short drive for a larger property. Do you want 10 acres in Potter Valley and a 20 minute drive from work or three acres at the south end of Redwood Valley and a five minute drive? Consider what matters most and go for it.
If you have any questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at [email protected] or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery. To view previous articles, visit www.selzerrealty.com and click on “How’s the Market Going”.
Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for over 45 years.