Aside from a vehicle or a college education, investing in real estate is one of the largest monetary commitments you will ever make. Before you even attend an open house, there are several steps to take as you prepare to be a homeowner. With careful preparation, you are sure to find and secure your dream home.
With financing more difficult to secure than in the past, it is critical that you check your credit report thoroughly. You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from all three bureaus, including Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Inspect each document to make sure that all the information is true.
It is possible to have a mistake on the report that negatively affects you. Fix any issues before applying for a home loan. A poor credit history may force a lender to increase your loan's interest rate or decline a mortgage entirely.
That cottage on a cul-de-sac may look quaint, but it could be out of your price range. Visit a lender and get prequalified for a home loan. The lender will take your income and debt information to determine a loan amount that suits you.
With this information in mind, you can narrow down your home search to a few select properties. A lender may approve a certain loan amount, but you are certainly welcome to look for properties below that amount. The pre-qualification provides a maximum value that the lender will provide.
Depending on the property and your credit history, most lenders want a 20 percent down payment on a home before financing can occur for the remaining balance. For instance, a $100,000 home requires a $20,000 down payment.
The remaining $80,000 is financed. To save up the 20 percent, you need to get creative. Offer a yard sale to the neighborhood and get rid of items you do not want to move into your new home. Skip your daily lunch out and bring food from home. Saving a little bit everyday makes a difference in the end.
DO NOT SKIP THE INSPECTION
Once you find and bid on a property, attend the home inspection. A good investment starts with a healthy property free from major defects, including plumbing issues and foundation cracks.
Look the property over and offer your opinion of potential repairs. Once you agree to buy the property, all the repairs are yours to fix.
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