If you’re considering buying your first home, congratulations. Home ownership has a lot to recommend it, including building up equity and even tax breaks. But buying a home can be complicated, so here are 10 things you should remember:

 

  • Start early. For most people, buying a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. So be prepared to spend some time shopping around. As you look at different options, you’ll get a much better idea of what you do and do not like, where you might want to live, and how much your house should cost.
  • Clean up your credit. One advantage to starting your home search early is that it gives you more time to work on your credit score, which can help you get a lower interest rate. Check your credit report for mistakes, reduce credit card debt, and pay all your bills on time.
  • Find or work with a licensed Realtor®. They can help find the home of your dreams and answer resale value questions.  You probably won’t live in your home for the rest of your life, so think about when you might eventually sell your home. There are renovation loans for homes, but you can’t renovate in an unfavorable neighborhood.
  • It’s not just a mortgage. Home ownership comes with a lot of other costs, like insurance (both homeowners and Florida mortgage insurance), taxes, utilities, neighborhood association fees, and more.
  • Get pre-approved. Pre-qualified and pre-approved are not the same thing. Pre-qualification can take as little as 10 minutes, but it just gives you an estimate of how much mortgage you might get. Pre-approval is more detailed, and your lender will verify your financial information and give you a firm idea of how much mortgage you can get. It’s still not guaranteed, but it’s much more certain.
  • Don’t over-spend. It’s tempting to buy the biggest house you can get, but you may not want to spend that much. You might want a less-expensive home in a better location, or you may just want some “breathing room” in your budget. Find a home that fits your finances and personal situation.
  • Get a good inspection. Home inspections are a crucial part of buying a home. You need to have an expert check the home for serious flaws and any other potential problems. You should always make any offer contingent on a home inspection.
  • Remember you’re also buying appliances. Be careful – you don’t want your air conditioner to die or your dishwasher to start leaking a few months after you move in. Find out how old the appliances are, and ask your home inspector if you have questions.
  • Check the property line. Remember, you’re buying the land, too. Make sure your neighbors didn’t build a fence on your property or you don’t own a tree that could fall down during our next Florida tropical storm and create liability. If it’s a significant lot, you may want to get it surveyed by a professional to confirm your property lines.
  • Location, location, location. Don’t just look at the house, check out the neighborhood. Take walks, and visit at different times of the day and night. Roll down your windows and listen. Do you hear dogs barking constantly? Can you smell a landfill nearby? If you can, talk to your neighbors. Find out as much as possible before you buy.

 

Most importantly, when you’re shopping for a home, be ready to walk away. Don’t get caught up in a bidding war and spend more than you can afford. If your inspector finds problems, it might be best to look elsewhere rather than trying to fix them. Remember, you’ll be paying for this house for a long time. You want it to be a good decision. If you’re currently shopping for a home, check with Embrace Home Loans. We’ll help you get pre-approved for a Florida mortgage and make sure you can get the financing you need before you start shopping. Call us today at 407-733-6425.