Home buying guide
There's a lot to think about when buying a home, which can be both exciting and overwhelming. At Homepoint, we want to help make the home buying process as simple and straightforward as possible. Read through this helpful guide for suggested tips on how to successfully navigate the purchase journey.
1. Decide if buying now makes sense
While homeownership is undoubtedly a large financial commitment, it comes with a lot of benefits. Start with our frequently asked questions about homebuying to make sure that buying makes sense for your situation right now.
2. Make sure you're loan ready
Review your credit history with Experian, Transunion, or Equifax (or all three) to ensure your credit score and credit history look good. Now is the time to resolve any outstanding issues or work to raise your credit score. Check out our article, Steps to Improve Your Credit Score, for additional information.
Next, you’ll want to start compiling the documents that may be needed throughout the loan process, such as:
- Previous month’s pay stubs
- Two years of tax returns and W-2s
- Year-to-date business financial statements (if you're self-employed)
- Explanations and paper trail for bank deposits or withdrawals above $1,000
- Home insurance policy quote
- Information about any additional homes/businesses you own
3. Create your budget
It’s important to set a realistic budget for your home search. While figuring out the down payment is important, don’t forget about determining what you can afford monthly, including the mortgage payment, insurance, utilities, HOA fees, day care, tuition, groceries, and more. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency or maintenance fund set aside for anything that may come up after closing.
4. Find the loan type that works best for you
Take the time to learn about the different types of mortgages and how they can impact you as a borrower. Everyone’s situation is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all. Many people still believe they need a 20% down payment for a home and only banks offer loans. This is not the case, as there are many non-bank lenders and some borrowers can receive a conventional loan with as little as a 3% down payment. And for some borrowers a government-backed USDA loan requires no down payment. Review the types of loan programs available to you based on your financial situation.
5. Get pre-approved
Pre-approval is one of the most important steps in the home buying process. It informs you about what loan terms you can work with and reflects your commitment to the process. In addition, most real estate agents will require a pre-approval before they begin helping you shop for your first home. However, a pre-approval does not guarantee that you’re in the clear. At any time during the application process, your lender can check your financial and employment standing. It’s critical that you maintain your financial status quo and do not open new lines of credit, make large purchases, move large sums of money between accounts, change jobs, etc.
6. Find a real estate professional
Seek out a trusted real estate agent who will confidently guide you through the home buying process. A great real estate agent can save you both time and money. They will set up viewing appointments on your behalf and provide you with information about the homes in which you are interested. Your real estate agent should be knowledgeable about your area so they can provide information about schools, crime rates, transportation, and more.
7. Find the home of your dreams
With the help of your real estate agent, start identifying homes that meet your criteria and that fit within your budget. Showings and open houses are critical to attend, but also make sure you drive and walk the neighborhoods to get an idea of what it’s like to live in the area. Take notes on the homes you’re interested in to help you stay organized. Lastly, try and maintain a flexible schedule. When a home hits the market, every day counts when you’re competing against other buyers.
8. Make an offer
Once you have found your dream home, it’s time to make an offer! Your real estate agent will walk you through the process of how to make an attractive offer to increase your likelihood of the sellers accepting. Your agent will also guide you through other areas of the offer stage, such as timing, bidding in a multiple-offer scenario, counteroffers with the sellers, and more.
Buying a home is a complex activity, especially if it is your first time—but we are here to help! If you’re considering purchasing and you’d like to speak with a loan officer, please call us at (833) 610-1069.