Home Buying Tools
There are two key activities in which you have to engage when planning to buy a home. First, searching for and picking the house you want to buy. Second, securing the money to buy your dream home.
Let’s start with finding a home. You may already know the neighborhood you want to move to, but if not, there are great tools on the Internet to help you decide where to move. Just search for “city profile” or “neighborhood profile” in a search engine and you’ll find a site that can give you valuable information. For example, you’ll be able to find out about a city’s population, median age and income, unemployment rate, percentage of population that are Democrats or Republicans, median home values, teacher-to-student ratios, demographic make up, information about the climate, overview of the crime in the area, air and water quality, sales and income tax for the city, and even information about religion.
Once you know the city where you’d like to live, it’s important to know how much home you can afford to purchase. While how much debt you’re comfortable with might be different than somebody else, there are also objective factors that determine the amount of money you might be able to borrow. These factors include your income, your credit score, and how much debt you have. There are free mortgage calculators on the Internet that can help you get an idea of the maximum loan amount you might receive, what your monthly payment might be (an important figure to know!), whether it’s better to rent or buy, and how much you could save by making extra payments.
Now that you have an idea of where you want to move to and about how much you can spend on a home, you need to find houses that are both in your desired neighborhood and in the price range you want. The Internet has websites where you can type in a specific address and get an estimated value of your desired home. Alternatively, you could enter a zip code or city and see an aerial map, move the map around, zoom in, and be shown an estimated value for every home on a street. When you see a house you’re curious about, you can select it and see a photo taken from the ground as well as information such as square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, when the home was built, the size of the property, what type of roof it has (shake, asphalt, etc), etc.
Searching for a home as described above may mean falling in love with a house that isn’t currently for sale. If this happens, you might approach the owners and make an offer. A better method might be to search first for homes that are for sale, and once you have found one, use an Internet valuation tool to see if the home’s price is close to the estimated value and in line with the value of neighboring homes. There are various websites that show homes for sale. A savvy shopper can use these sites in conjunction with a real estate agent.
After finding the home you want to move into, you’ll most likely need to obtain a mortgage loan. Choosing the right loan from the right lender is extremely important because of the huge amount of money you’re dealing with. When evaluating lenders, consider how quickly they can close your loan, how many different types of loan programs they have, how competitive their rates are, and how convenient they are. For example, will you have to drive somewhere to sign the final documents, or will the lender send the notary to your home or office? Will you be able to upload supporting documents over the lender’s secure system or will you have to spend money to mail the documents?
The tools mentioned above will assist you in finding homes for sale, learning home values, researching cities, calculating how much you can afford, and finding the best mortgage lender. Much success to you in your move!
By: Brandan C Hadlock
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