As you may remember, about a year ago I made an announcement that there was a new home in the works... but due to some unforeseen circumstances, my living situation is still the same. It's certainly disappointing that I don't have more home DIYs to share, but it ended up being the right move overall. So while I tackle the realities of the home buying process and how I'll win next time, I thought it would be fun to share a few pictures of my "dream home" as well!
Speaking of the home buying process, it is certainly not simple (especially for first-time home buyers), but the Capital One Home Loans Online Neighborhood site breaks it down with easy-to-understand articles and helpful videos. It's a completely free online resource for potential home buyers to learn all about home buying. All the stages of the home buying process are covered, such as deciding if it's the right time to buy, how much you can afford, and the documents you need for a mortgage once it's time to buy. Take a peek!
Question: How much can I afford?
One rule of thumb is to look at houses that are 2.5 times your annual salary. For example, to afford that $2.5 million dollar beachfront dream home, I better be making a million dollars a year. Hm...
Ideally, your monthly housing payment should be less than 28 percent of your gross household monthly income. For example, if you take home $5,000 a month, your monthly housing payment should be less than $1,400. For help with your budget, use an online mortgage calculator!
Question: How much should I budget for a down payment?
The traditional estimate is 20% of the purchase price of the house. A larger down payment will lower your monthly payments, which is always preferred!
Bonus Tip: In the model home I toured below, the kitchen below had tons of upgrades, which were all gorgeous. However, that meant the purchase price increased dramatically and that would increase the down payment and monthly mortgage payments. Think carefully about upgrades that you have to make vs. want to make, if you go the new home route.
Question: What information do lenders want?
Your financial history is very important since lenders will be looking at your income, assets, credit score, total debt, job history, and down payment amount. You can get a free credit report online and find tips to help protect and improve your credit score. Get all the rest of your documents together beforehand, and it will be a much smoother process later!
I loved this home office below in one home I saw, and I would love to recreate it one day! Besides, it looks like a perfect place for all those financial documents that I would need for my next home. ;)
Question: Is it worth it to get pre-qualified?
Yes! It is not necessary, but it puts you in a stronger bargaining position for negotiating home sale price and terms. If you shop around with national and local lenders to get pre-approved for a mortgage up to a specified amount, it will also give you a good idea of your price range. Then, when you find that amazing home with the huge lot size, you know that you will be a strong contender to buy the house of your dreams!
|Lot sizes like this don't REALLY exist here in Southern California! ;) Source|
Question: What other costs can I expect?
Besides the down payment, there are other fees and closing costs to keep in mind. Some of these may include the real estate fees, appraisal fee, loan fees, attorney's fees, inspection fees, and the cost of a title search. All of these can add up to more than $10,000 or even 5% of the mortgage.
Another potential cost is a good-faith deposit or earnest money. Writing a check for 1 to 10% of the purchase price (to be put into an escrow account) shows the sellers that you are a serious buyer. Of course, this will only go through once the deal has closed.
Homeowner's insurance is another item that most lenders require before approving your loan. Another item to add to the list!
Bottom line: Do not try to use up your budget to the exact dollar amount, or else you might find yourself house poor after adding up the additional expenses.
After learning more about the house buying process and finding some great tips on the Capital One Home Loans Online Neighborhood site, I am even more excited to find the house of my dreams! Even though I shared these fantastic houses above, in reality, I just want to have a creative space that I can one day call my first home. Until then, I'm on the lookout for a place to store my thread and make some pretty macarons...
Happy house hunting!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.