When purchasing a new home, it's important to ask questions. Whether you're shopping for your first home loan, exploring refinancing options, seeking to leverage the equity you've built up in your current home, or looking to finance construction of a new home, it can be a complicated and detailed process.
General Do's and Dont's
- Find the best home and home loan that you can comfortably afford - the rule-of-thumb is that your mortgage payment should be no more than approximately 30 percent (or less) of your income. Your total monthly payments (including mortgage payment) should be no more than 40-45 percent of your income.
- Pay off small debts - several credit cards with small balances may seem insignificant, but your financial situation can be much improved if those balances were $0.
- Be budget conscious - once you qualify for your loan, make sure to keep your finances healthy. A budget that allows for savings pays big rewards.
- Be prepared for closing costs - in addition to your down payment, you'll need funds to cover the closing costs. For purchase loans, they're paid in cash and can't be borrowed funds.
- Compare apples to apples - when you compare loan programs, be sure that you're comparing equal terms, down payments, and loan types.
- Prove that you're a qualified buyer - get prequalified. You'll know what you can afford and you'll demonstrate to buyers that you're qualified.
- Do the up-front work - your offer, once accepted, is a contract to purchase. Know exactly what you need from a house and what you're prepared to pay for it.
- Always get a home inspection - your choice to avoid paying the cost of a home inspection, or choosing an inspector with limited experience, can prove to be expensive and even catastrophic if you fail to identify hidden problems in the property prior to purchase.