The home buying process can seem far less complex if it is broken down into a handful of key steps. At its core, home buying is actually several processes, only one of which fulfills the traditional image of going from house to house trying to pick out your favorite. To help make the task more manageable, here are the necessary steps before you can call a new house “yours”:
Step 1: Start Saving
Window shopping online has become a growing pastime, but browsing for homes in this mode is unproductive. Future homeowners should ground their expectations in reality or they risk getting swept away in the glamour of shopping for impractical or unaffordable homes. Even current homeowners with plenty of equity under their belt should start on firm footing before they begin the house hunt anew.
In other words: start saving. You will need a 20 percent down payment on average and 2 to 5 percent set aside for closing costs alone. On top of that, you will need a security cushion in the form of saving for mortgage payments and a homeowners insurance policy.
These factors are why the journey for buying a new home starts with pinching pennies.
Step 2: Assess Your Needs
Once you engage into spendthrift mode, you can start thinking about what you actually want to get out of a house. Focus on the absolute necessities and work your way outward to preferences and eventually amenities that are nice but ultimately unnecessary.
At bare minimum, most homeowners want:
- A building in good condition with reasonable maintenance
- Enough bedrooms to comfortably fit the family
- A usable kitchen
- Adequate storage space
- A safe neighborhood
- A sitting area for relaxation or entertainment
Beyond these essentials, aspiring homeowners must narrow down other important criteria, including the exact number of bedrooms, the type of floor plan, the possible location, rooms like laundry rooms that increase functionality, kitchen size and general square footage. Write down all of these decisions in a list and try to arrange them in order of priority.
Step 3: Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
With the general idea of what type of home you want and a solid financial foundation, you can begin hunting for a way to pay for it all. Getting pre-approved lets you know how much house you can afford and gets one of the least pleasant steps partially over with. Having a pre-approval notice in your hand can also help you out down the road when you need to convince the seller that your offer is legitimate.
Those lucky enough to be paying in cash should examine their income and start charting out expenses to similarly narrow down a reasonable price range.
With these steps out of the way, buyers can start their search for the perfect Fleetwood real estate property. Take a look at our buying page to learn more, and read part II to find out the last steps to home buying.