- I’m ready to buy a home. What’s the first step?
The first step a homebuyer should take is getting pre-approved for a loan. This helps you determine how much house you can afford and set a firm budget. Sellers are also more inclined to take you seriously and consider your offer if they know the home is within your pre-approved limit.
- How does my credit score impact my home loan?
When determining how much home you can afford and whether you are eligible for a home loan, a lender will look at your credit score. Typically, you need a score of 580 or higher to qualify, but it is recommended to have a 620 or higher. The higher your credit score, the better lending terms you may be eligible for.
- How many homes should I look at?
There is no right or wrong number of homes you should view before making an offer. Some people find their dream home in one day, while others house hunt for months. View as many as it takes to find the home that fits your needs.
- What’s the best way to search for a home?
You can start by viewing MLS listings on a real estate database, such as HAR.com or Trulia.com. Narrow down the results by searching for homes within your price range and with the desired number of bedrooms and bathrooms. More importantly, have your real estate agent research homes and make recommendations based on your criteria.
- How safe is the neighborhood?
No one wants to live in a dangerous city, but your real estate agent can’t help you with this question. Due to the Fair Housing Act, a real estate agent cannot answer questions regarding crime statistics. Before starting your house hunt, research crime data for the cities and neighborhoods you are considering.
- How much do real estate agents charge for their services?
Typically, you aren’t paying a real estate agent to help you find your dream home. A home seller pays their real estate agent a percentage of the home sale price, and that agent pays the buyer’s real estate agent for bringing in the buyer.
- How much should I put for a down payment?
While it depends on the type of loan, most mortgage lenders require at least a 3-percent down payment, and FHA loans require a minimum of 3.5-percent down. The percentage you are required to put down will depend on your credit history, the type of property, and several other factors. In 2014, the average down payment was 14 percent.
- How long does the home-buying process take?
The process varies significantly from each sale to another. Once the seller has accepted your offer, it takes an average of 36 days to close.
9. How will my home purchase affect my taxes?
There are a number of tax benefits to buying a home, but filing your taxes can be a lengthy process if you aren’t familiar with itemizing. You can deduct your mortgage interest payments, as well as property taxes, points paid at closing, interest on home equity loans, lines of credit, and other items. A tax professional can help you decide what to itemize.