First steps to home ownership

Much has been written about mortgage rates and the availability of affordable homes in the local market. It occurs to us that many of the people who could benefit from this environment may not know how to go about purchasing a home. Here is a step by step look at the process.

Find a lender you can work with.

First you will need to know how much you can spend on a home. Any local lender will help you learn about the various loan programs – some even require nothing down – and show you how you can use your loan to help with closing costs or for help when a down payment is required. If you are uncomfortable talking with someone about your financial situation initially you can visit the Idaho Housing and Finance Association website (ihfa.org) where you will find information about the various loan programs and choose one that suits your needs. When you find a loan program that suits you, you will want to meet with a lender to get pre-qualified so that when you do find a home you will have a head start.

Begin your home search.

Once you have decided on your loan type and you know what monthly payments you can afford you can begin your home search. If you are like 83% of home buyers you will use the internet to find a home. This website is linked to the Multiple Listing Service and will provide a mortgage calculator feature to show you your monthly payment. Be sure to consider the additional dollars needed for property taxes and hazard insurance when calculating a payment within your budget. Of course, once you know the payment you can afford you will be able to narrow your search for a home.

Try on the neighborhoods.

Now that you have a list of homes you think you like, you will want to check them out. You can print out driving directions with the addresses and front photos of the houses and make a fun day out of touring for your new home. Pay attention to the neighborhood to make sure it fits you. Is it close enough to work, school, church, shopping? Will the home that is for sale suit your lifestyle? If you have pets, is the yard fenced? Does it have a garage or shop for your handyman projects? Remember that a home is an investment in your quality of life as well as a way to build wealth. Once you are committed it is not as easy to pick up and move as it may be with a rental property.

I will set up the showings.

REALTORS® refer to previewing homes as “showings”.

Once you find homes that seems to suit you, you’ll want to see inside and check their condition. Kim Cooper will be able to get permission to access the homes you would like to see. He will also advise you about home inspections and how to prepare and negotiate an offer contingent upon a good inspection once you find the perfect home.

Happy hunting!