Category Archives: home buying steps

Buying a Home: Where to Start Your Home Search

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new home owner receiving key in hand after buying homeAre you looking to be a new home owner in the new year?  Buying a new home is a wonderful New Year’s resolution, and one that comes with some prep work by the soon-to-be home owner (after all, this is a major purchase and decision).  If you’re ready to get started on fulfilling your resolution, here are the steps you can take to get your home search off on the right foot.

Get your documents in order

If you want to make the process of getting approved for a mortgage smooth(er), start compiling financial documents now for future use.  Your mortgage lender is going to ask for different documents based on your financial circumstances, but here are a few documents to start locating and organizing for your mortgage loan application:

  • W-2’s
  • Pay stubs
  • Business profit and loss statements or 1099
  • Bank statements
  • Tax returns (1-3 years)
  • Investment statements
  • Titles (automobile, real estate, etc.)
  • Canceled rent checks (or proof of payment from landlord)
  • Gift documentation (if part or all of your down payment was gifted)
  • List of debts (your mortgage lender may be able to get this from your credit report)

Find a mortgage lender

There are a lot of mortgage lenders out there; it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by finding one lender out of all the options, but it’s important.  Choosing the right mortgage lender makes the process smooth and can save you money in the process.

To start with, ask yourself how much you know about the mortgage process and your preferred method of communication.  Make sure you choose a reputable company to avoid any headaches.  Once you know your preferred mode of communication (face-to-face vs. virtual), and the amount of assistance you need navigating through the home buying process, now it’s time to narrow your options.

Let’s make one thing clear: though you do need to apply to get the exact mortgage rate, you do not need to apply to get possible mortgage rates and a list of fees.  Any mortgage lender should be able to give you that information up front without an application. Once you have this information, ask your potential mortgage lender these questions:

  1. What is the current mortgage rate? (Be aware that mortgage rates, even fixed mortgage rates, do rise and fall over a period of time and that you may get a different rate.)
  2. What fees should I expect to pay? (A full, complete list!)
  3. What kinds of loans do you offer? (If you are interested in a loan specifically for veterans or think that a HUD loan is the best option, ask the lender if they offer that loan type—not all do.)
  4. What documents do I need to apply?
  5. What do you need from me to make the process smooth? When do you need this information?

Contact a local realtor

Once you have your mortgage lender selected, and you know you can get a loan, now it’s time for the fun of house hunting to begin.  Before you go on your first home tour, make a list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘would be nice to have’ to help guide you as you look. Be aware that you may not be able to get everything on your list, and be ready to adjust your expectations.

To set up home showings and guide you through the process, contact a local, experienced real estate agent to get started (here are other signs of a good real estate agent).  They can guide you through the process of finding and buying your home, and get you on your way to fulfilling your New Year resolution.