A home is likely one of – if not the – biggest purchase you will ever make in your life. As such, it is important to go into the process of buying a home fully informed and aware of all the things you might need to know.
When it comes time to start putting in your offers, you’ll want to be prepared. Here are 4 essential things every single home buyer should do before they start looking for houses:
1. Get a Mortgage Loan Preapproved
When you put in a request for a mortgage loan, the lender will ask you for all of your documentation and income-related information. Based on this information, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. Not only does this help you sweeten any offers you put down, but it also gives you a really good estimate of what exactly you can afford to spend on your house.
2. Take a Close Look at the Photos in Online Listings
A very common practice with online listings is what is known as ‘virtual staging.’ This is when realtors and homeowners upload photos of the home that have been staged with specific furniture or digitally altered to change the appearance of walls and floors.
These photos are often purposefully misleading and can be used to hide various flaws in the home. Be sure to compare listing photos to the home in person, and if you see differences between the two, it might be best to walk away.
3. Invest in Home Inspections
A professional home inspection can cost you anywhere between $300 to $500. In the long run, that amounts to pocket change, especially when it can end up saving you so much trouble down the line.
A home inspection can save you from getting tied up in a home that might end up needing lots of expensive repair work done. They can also help you to renegotiate the closing price if you find any unexpected surprises.
4. Keep Closing Costs in Mind
While your down payment and mortgage will likely be the big payments, you need to create a budget and maintain it once you ultimately buy a house. On average, you would have to pay between 3-5% of the house’s purchase price in closing costs.
You might also have to pay HOA fees if the house you buy is registered with an HOA. These numbers can seriously add up in the end, so it’s a good idea to pre-budget all these extra costs you’ll run into later.
Overall, when preparing to buy a house, there are several things that need to be done before, during, and after the house has been bought. Keep in mind the importance of pre-approved mortgage loans, in-person house visits, home inspections, and the additional closing costs you’ll have to deal with, and you should be ready to buy your first home!