Ready to take the leap into homeownership? Here are a few smart moves to make when you are buying a home.
Homeownership is a proverbial part of the American dream. It provides the opportunity to establish roots and build wealth through home equity. For military families, owning a home offers the added benefit of having a place to call their own, regardless of where their service takes them.
Here are a few smart moves to consider when buying a home:
Smart Money Moves
- Check your credit. Correct any errors on your credit report prior to applying for a mortgage.
- Know what you can afford. Limit your monthly mortgage payment to your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) or 25% of your gross monthly income.
- Get pre-approved before you start shopping. A pre-approval lets sellers know you are a serious buyer, but it’s also a great way to prepare for homeownership since it forces you to understand your budget and narrow your search to homes you can realistically afford.
- Learn about your options. There are several mortgage loan options available to buyers, so make an informed decision on which one works best for you.
- Budget for additional expenses. Owning a home often comes with other major expenses such as repairs, appliances, upkeep and improvements to make it your own.
- Negotiate everything. Many components of a home purchase are negotiable such as realtor’s fees, sales price, concessions for closing costs, appliances, and even furniture.
- Protect your stuff. Theft and property damage can happen to anyone at any time, so protect your finances with homeowners insurance.
- Protect your credit reputation. Make your mortgage payments on time.
Smart Lifestyle Moves
- Research the area. Know the school districts, opportunities for spouse employment, and crime rates for the area.
- Avoid road rage. Consider your commute to base and other points of interest.
- Plan for a PCS. Develop a game plan if you receive PCS orders. This could include selling your home or becoming a landlord and renting the property.
- Consider square footage, bedrooms, and living space. You may not be shopping for your “forever home,” but make sure the home you purchase fits your lifestyle, family, and plans for the future.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
- Rushing the process. Take your time to do thorough research and view multiple properties to find the best one that meets your needs and budget.
- Limiting your lender search. Getting a mortgage quote from multiple lenders may seem time-consuming, but it can potentially save you thousands of dollars on your loan.
- Ghosting a real estate agent. Can you buy a home without a real estate agent? Yes. Should you? The answer is complicated. While you may save some money by handling the transaction yourself, having a real estate expert in your corner can help the process and better protect your rights as a buyer.
- Ignoring the neighborhood. Research the neighborhood and take note of the crime rate, schools, access to public transportation, and nearby shops and restaurants.
- Waiving the inspection. Don’t assume that a property is in good condition just because it looks great on the surface. Make sure you get a professional inspection done on the property before buying. This suggestion also goes for brand new homes.