This is part 2 of a 2-part article:
Tip 5: Buying — personal decision, business transaction
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) advises home buyers to create a wish list to help focus priorities. That way, you’ll remember that a spectacular foyer is nice-to-have, but safety and services are essential. Having clear goals will help keep you from getting carried away with emotional factors. Sellers who love their homes tend to ask too much, and buyers who fall in love can end up overpaying. With a little research, you can get can get an objective estimate of property value to make sure the seller has set a fair asking price. There are tools and resources on the Web to help you better understand home valuations.
Tip 6: Don’t let closing costs surprise you
Once you understand the buying process, you should understand and budget for transaction costs. In addition to your down payment, buyers pay most of the closing costs when purchasing a home, including things like inspection fees, title insurance, taxes and more. Closing fees can add up to 5-7 percent of purchase price, and must be paid before you get the keys. Your lender can provide what’s called a “good faith” estimate of your closing costs. Most closing costs are not negotiable but some are. When you’re comparing lenders, don’t be shy…ask which fees are negotiable, then ask if any discounts are available. Finally, be cautious about “no-cost” closing promotions because the lender may be simply passing on the costs in the form of a higher interest rate.
Tip 7: Build a support team
Buying a home is a big investment and a big decision, but you don’t have to go it alone. Remember, at each step of the way, there are people and resources to help you. Use the Internet and ask friends for referrals. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call real estate professionals, mortgage providers, title companies and insurers to ask questions. These professionals should be good resources to help you learn more about home buying, because they want to earn your business. If they are not helpful, then you have also learned something important…that they don’t deserve your business.
Tip 8: Clean up your credit
Low credit ratings mean that buyers won’t qualify for the best available interest rates and fees, which could mean considerable extra expense each month for the life of the loan. Most financial institutions today offer risk-based lending – lower credit risk for lenders means better mortgage deals for customers. Credit reports frequently contain inaccurate information, which can hurt a buyer’s purchasing power. First-time buyers should check their credit scores and fix any problems before applying for financing.
Tip 9: Begin with the end in mind
Author Stephen Covey’s advice for effective living also applies to effective home buying. Resale may not your primary consideration, but it’s an important factor. Can you buy in an up-and-coming neighborhood or region? How is the “commutability” from your new home to local employers? How good are the local schools? A few queries to your favorite search engine will turn up free or inexpensive school rating services. Also be on the lookout for outdated features when you buy. If the those small closets and harvest gold appliances seem out of step now, you can bet that they won’t look any better to prospective buyers in a few years.
Charles Warnock is Marketing Communications Manager at Homekeys, a South-Florida based provider of real estate technology and services. He writes often on real estate, finance, interactive marketing and business development. For more information, visit http://www.homekeys.net
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