By James Speer, APB, President, Home Builders Association of Greenville and Partner, CarsonSpeer Builders
If spring looks like the time you will buy a new home, now is not too early to lay the groundwork. After all, you will need to get your finances in shape, get ready to apply for a mortgage, settle on a budget, and decide where you want to live. These things take time, so it is never too early to get started.
Price range and down payment.
Most banks and online real estate sites have affordability and mortgage calculators that can help you settle on a budget.
To determine your down payment, assess what you have in hand, including the equity in your current home, if you have one, and what you can realistically save between now and spring. Don’t forget there will be closing costs.
Once you have a budget, research where you would like to live. Consider schools, commute, housing density, even amenities, and which factors are most important to you.
Check online real estate listings. Go to open houses. And most importantly, visit your preferred neighborhoods at different times of day to assess things like traffic.
Check your credit report now. If you need to dispute anything, get to that task early in the process. Your credit report is available to you free from each of the three major credit reporting agencies through annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Here are some ways to maintain and improve your score:
- Pay your bills on time.
- Pay down credit card.
- Avoid applying for new credit cards or closing old ones.
Check mortgage rates at various lenders. But keep in mind that the ultra-low rate you found online line might come with lots of headaches when it comes time to close and you have to deal with a lender by phone 1,000 miles away.
About a month before you plan to buy, choose your lender and get a pre-approval letter from them. With that in hand, you will be able to show a seller that you are a qualified buyer.
For more information about the home buying process, and to find an Approved Professional Builder to help you with your new home, visit HBAofGreenville.com.