As the events of the last few years in the real estate industry show, people forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home at their peril. Here are a few tips for dealing with the dollar signs so that you can put up that “SOLD” sign on your new home.
Get pre-approved. Nail down your price range. Getting pre-approved for a loan can save you a lot of time by targeting your price range and can put you in a better position to make an offer when you find the right house. Unlike pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history. With this thorough analysis of your actual spending power, you’ll also be less likely to get in over your head.
Choose your mortgage carefully. A 15-year mortgage will save thousands of dollars in interest, but may not be the best solution for you. The average person will accumulate debt due to credit cards, student loans, car loans and medical bills. A 30-year mortgage gives you a lower monthly payment, with the option of paying an additional principal when money is good. Additionally, when picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points (a portion of the interest that you pay at closing) in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you plan to stay in the house for a long time, taking the points will save you money.
Do your homework before bidding. Before you make an offer, do some research on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood with sites like Zillow. Consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. For instance, if homes have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, your opening bid should probably be about 8 to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.