What’s the first question you ask yourself when you’re ready to buy a home? It should be, “How much can I afford?” Without that crucial piece of information, you can’t even begin your search. Figure your monthly income and debt payments, order your credit reports from annualcreditreport.com, and determine how much you can put down. Or you can have your loan officer do this for you.
Now, apply for pre-approval from a local lender, ask for the best interest rate and terms. You can choose a fixed or adjustable rate, a conventional or government backed FHA or VA loan, which are among the most common types of mortgages.
Now, what do you want out in your new home? Do you want a location within the city, right downtown, in the suburbs, or a rural setting? How many bedrooms and bathrooms, in a single family home or a multi-family property?
Now that you’ve figured out what you’re looking for and what you can afford, locate the neighborhoods that satisfy your requirements. A local real estate agent can give you information about your work commute and proximity to shopping and recreation. You may find your agent through referrals from friends or co-workers.
You can browse listings online, but the agent should be able to provide a list of suitable properties right away. Make appointments for tours and advise you on which homes are a good value.