Things to do Before Buying a House

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Buying a house is only the first of many new adventures. A house represents opportunity, ownership, growth, and responsibility.

Whether you plan to stay for a few years, or until your children leave the nest, buying a house should be an exciting milestone in your life. But such an endeavor can be easily tarnished by a number of things, including lack of preparation. Here are five things to do before you start looking for a house.

Check your Credit

We’ve grown up hearing about the necessity of credit in large purchases, but to first time home-owners, this can still be a foreign concept. The score that you need to buy a house depends on the loan you are buying the house with. Creditsesame.com states that with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the minimum credit score accepted is 620. However, FHA loans accept credit scores as low as 580. Check your credit score early in your search for a home, because damaged credit will bring down your ability to get a loan and to buy your dream home.  If your credit score is not where it needs to be, it's not forever, you can improve your credit score.

Get Preapproved for a Loan

Preapproval for a loan can be extremely helpful to you, your agent, and the seller of the home you are looking at. Preapproval for a loan is when the bank takes all of your finances into account--debt, assets, income--and tells you the mortgage amount you can afford. Some banks will allow you to do this on their website, but you can also visit your bank in person. The latter may be a better option for first time buyers, so that you are able to ask real-time questions about any areas of confusion. Visiting in person may also be a good time to review your credit, which will play a role in whether or not you can get preapproved for a loan.

Agree on What you Want

Sit down with your spouse, parents, roommate, or whoever you may be buying a house with, and discuss what you are looking for. Looking for a house will become a lot less arduous if you are both on the same page about what you want. Remember: it is highly unlikely that you will get everything that you are looking for, so keep an open mind. Getting a large front yard will sometimes mean sacrificing office space, or a smaller garage for a basement, etc.

Secure Plans for your Current House

Because you don't want to end up paying two mortgages, it is important to have an idea or at least a plan for your current residence. With the help of your agent or a real estate agency, put your current house up on the market around the same time you begin to look. In many metropolitan and suburban areas, competition is steep, and you may find your current house under contract with no place to go. If you are renting, it would be ideal to move at the same time that your lease agreement is up, or to give your landlord 30 days notice. Rental laws differ from state to state, so be sure to check them out before looking for a new house.

Find a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is one of the best resources you can have when buying house. They will be able to filter through houses, make sure that the house is in good condition, and help you negotiate price. Referrals are one of the best ways to secure a real estate agent, because you will know for a fact how successful your agent is. Agencies are also great places to find an agent. Feel free to interview potential agents over the phone or ask for referrals.

And then the fun part begins! Search for the house you can start the next chapter of your life in without feeling unprepared.

Source: Neighborhood Link - Sabrina Robinson
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