Think about making resolutions for a first-time homebuyer. Now that we’ve gotten through the holidays and have begun a new year, it is time to take stock of the changes and improvements we want to make going forward. If you’re a first-time (or first time in a long time) homebuyer, there are some resolutions you should make. Each of these is important to your ability to have a smooth purchasing transaction. The most important thing is to get started right away so that when the home you want comes up for sale, someone else doesn’t snap it up.
Here are our top five New Year’s Resolutions for a first-time homebuyer:
- Check your credit score. If you spent a lot on the holidays, your credit score may have taken a hit, so start right now working on improving it. You can sign up for a free credit monitoring service through your bank or credit card company. Or consider keeping an eye on your credit through one of these options: Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, or Nerd Wallet. While the scores used by lenders differ a little in the various calculation methods, any of these tools will help you monitor if your score is improving … or needs improving. Your score doesn’t need to be perfect to get a loan, either. But a score that is trending upwards can garner you a better rate or a higher loan amount.
- Saving for a Downpayment. Hopefully, you started on this some time ago, but double-checking all of your savings accounts is a must. If any of your family members gave you money toward your downpayment, make sure you have a letter from them showing that the money is a gift and that there is no expected repayment required. Lenders may also require further evidence that the funds are a gift, so make sure that the giver is in agreement that you do not have to repay the gift. And, let them know that they may have to prove they can afford to give the gift. You can go here for an example of a gift letter. If you intend to take funds out of another account that requires selling stock, bonds, or other financial instruments, begin working with your broker or financial institution right away so that the process is in place.
- Get a Pre-Approval Letter. Prequalification is a beginning step in this process. That is where you have a lender determine an estimate of what you might be able to afford. But a pre-approval letter goes a step further. Pre-approval is when you complete a mortgage application with the lender and they verify all of your information and creditworthiness. If you pass their initial process, the lender will give you a Pre-Approval Letter that typically is good for 90 days with the amount of mortgage they believe you are qualified to obtain. Having a Pre-Approval letter shows your agent and the seller’s agent that you are serious about any offer you might make on a home. And, that you’re prepared to complete the deal.
- Hire an agent. You can hire an agent at any point in the process, but it is best to get us in the loop earlier rather than later. That way, we can be watching the market for any new-to-market home that fits your criteria. Some first-time buyers wonder why they should hire an agent. After all, isn’t the seller’s agent qualified to close the sale? Well, yes, but … the seller’s agent has their best interest at heart and seeks to get them the best deal for the house. A buyer’s agent represents you. In a bidding war, your agent negotiates on your behalf. We can also advise you when it is not a good purchase for you, or whether your offer is too high or too low.
- Buy a house. With your other resolutions in place, resolve to buy the house. Sometimes, a new homebuyer is afraid to complete the deal or make the offer. They are afraid they may have buyer’s remorse. But we are here to help make sure that you don’t make a mistake in choosing a home. We learn what you really want and need in your home and use our expertise to help you find it. You can download our Buyer’s Guide here. Use it to help you get organized and prepared for the process.
When you’re ready, take a virtual tour of any of the homes in our market areas. In Fayette County, Pennsylvania, you’ll find homes with virtual tours for sale below. For homes in other Pennsylvania or West Virginia counties, check out the listings here.
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