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Tips For When Buying a House

Posted on Sep 19, 2013 in Mortgage Market Updates and News

By Michelle
Making Sense of Cents
When we bought our first (and current) house, our whole process went by very quickly and smoothly. Our mortgage company and real estate agent both told us that our mortgage was the quickest process they’ve ever done. We got pre-approved and bought a house less than one month from start to finish.
It took around 2 weeks for us to find the perfect house, and we probably looked at over 20 houses in person. We also looked at hundreds online so the 20 that we looked at we thought were for sure buys. Our agent probably HATED us. Luckily she was a family friend so I hope she got over her hatred quickly :)
We are sort of in the home buying process again as you all know. We keep going back and forth with what type of house we want, where we want it located, and how much we want to spend.
Our current house is fine for now. There is definitely nothing wrong with it, I guess we just want something a little nicer that also has a little more room. So we could: a) stay in our current house and save a lot of money; or b) buy a house within the next year and finance the majority of it (probably with a 25% down payment).
If we did stay in our house for longer, we would spend some money on making it perfect. I definitely would want to change some things in our bathroom (such as adding a nice glass shower door), make our front and backyards perfect (possibly add a garden) and finish decorating everything to the way we want it. This is a whole ‘nother post in itself!
Anyways, when we bought our current house, we followed all of the steps below, except for the fact that we didn’t realize that the total monthly cost would be that much higher than what the mortgage company quoted us. That is something that we were naive about. Learn from our mistake!
Here are some tips for your next home buying process:
1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage!
This is definitely one of the first steps you should take. Looking at houses without getting pre-approved can be disastrous because you might just be wasting your time. You might not get approved, get approved for less than you think, etc.
Wouldn’t it really stink if you spent a ton of time looking at houses that turned out to be way more than what you can be pre-approved for? That can be a major letdown.
2. Buy less than what you are approved for.
I think we were approved for around $200,000. We were 20 years old and this seemed like a ton since we made hardly any money then. We were shocked and we looked at one house that was around this price range, but then we realized that this was a bad idea as we wanted to be more comfortable with our bills.
Also, something that our real estate agent told us, is to not show the seller how much you are pre-approved for. We showed our real estate agent our real pre-approval amount of course, and our agent said that when this happens, it can not be good. She said that if some sellers can see what we can actually “afford,” that they know how flexible that you can be with your pricing and negotiating. You can get your mortgage lender to lower the amount on the piece of paper and this is what we did. We asked our lender to say that our pre-approved amount was $150,000 (everyone, please keep in mind that I live in the Midwest and housing is cheaper here).
3. Buy a house that’s a good size for you
Also think about the future you are planning when you think about the size of the house you might buy. Remember my post on how we Bought Too Much House? Keep that in mind! While before our house seemed way too big for us, we now want something bigger. Eventually of course we would want kids, but it’s mainly that we want a bigger yard.
Do you plan on living in this house for awhile, or just a short amount of time such as 5 years? Do you want a house and neighborhood/city that is good for kids to grow up in? There are many questions to ask yourself.
4. Get a realtor!
This is something that I definitely recommend. Our realtor saved us a lot of money and was a great negotiator. We got the seller to pay all closing costs (which were around $5,000). And she also got them to fix a lot of little things around the house. Realtors do a lot of work and are skilled in buying/selling houses. They know where to begin, what to look for and have tons of tips.
5. Make sure you look around and don’t settle.
The market is great right now for people who are looking. There are a lot of houses out there and most have a great price (all of course depending on your city! Some cities are in a housing bubble). You will be living in this house most likely for a long amount of time, so you don’t want to regret your decision.
6. Hire an inspector.
This is something that is definitely needed as well. An inspector will be able to find things that might sway you from NOT buying the house. If you’re buying a house, then you can most likely shell out another $300 for an inspection. It is a good investment.
7. Figure out the WHOLE cost.
Not just want the mortgage would be. Figure out if there will be any PMI, what the homeowners insurance will be, and property taxes. This all can add up quickly, and it added around $300 to our mortgage.
8. Save!
Now that you know you want a house, try and save as much as you can before you move into your new home. Your new costs will most likely be higher than what you think, and any extra savings will be extremely helpful.


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