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#1 Needs Analysis
Congratulations on your decision to purchase a new home. Your first step toward buying your new home will be to analyze your needs. By analyzing your needs you will be able to get a clear picture of exactly what you want your new home to look like and how it should function for you.
First, you should write down why you are looking for a new home. For example, are you currently renting and would like to have a home where you can begin building equity? Maybe you recently married and have outgrown your current residence. Or, maybe you have just gotten a promotion which requires you to move to a new city. These factors will all have a bearing on how you approach your home search.
Second, establish a time frame that you would like to stay within for buying your home. Depending on your reasons for wanting a new home and the current state of the market in the area you are looking to buy, you should be able to come up with a rough guideline which you can finalize at a later time.
Last, you most likely have a mental picture of what you would like your house to look like and what features it should have. It's very important to write these ideas down to avoid any ambiguity later in your home search. You should make at least two lists: one should be a list describing your dream home and the other should list the features of the home that are an absolute must have in order to buy it. In a perfect world, your new home would fulfill both lists 100 percent. It is more likely that you will end up blending the two lists into a schedule of prioritized items as you progress through the buying process. This is a natural and evolutionary process as you get clearer about what you want and what is available.
As your agent, I can save you time and money by putting my expertise to work for you. I will be able to help you organize your wants and needs and then assist you in realizing how your wants and needs will fit into your home purchase plan. I will be able to helpfully focus your energies into what is possible for you and your family.
#2 Preapproval vs. Prequalification
Now that you have your list of features you want in your new home, you are ready to start looking! Well, not just yet. You are going to need to know in what price range to look. There are two ways to go about this. You can get prequalified or preapproved for a mortgage. Either way you will need to contact a mortgage company. If you are unsure of a mortgage company to use, I can help with a referral.
There are some key differences between prequalification and preapproval for a loan that you need to be aware of. Loan prequalification is a simple process. It takes into account very basic information regarding your financial status and gives you an amount for which you may qualify. This can be done strictly on a verbal level or electronically over the Internet. The prequalified amount is based solely on the information you provide. In most markets, prequalified buyers usually hold little clout compared to preapproved buyers due to the fact that the information given during the prequalification process is not thoroughly investigated and therefore may be unreliable. Where a preapproved buyer is actually approved for a loan of a certain amount, a prequalified buyer is only told that they might be approved for a certain amount.
Preapproval is a much more involved process. The lender will take all pertinent information regarding your finances and perform an extensive check on your current financial status. This will ultimately give you the exact amount that you will be eligible for (depending on what type of loan you decide to go with). Being preapproved lets the seller know that you have gone through an extensive financial background check and there should be no unexpected obstacles to buying the home. You can see how being preapproved would be more attractive to a seller than just being prequalified.
The type of mortgage you apply for will depend on many factors, but the majority of that decision will be based on your ability to pay a monthly installment. If you can only afford a $1000 dollar a month payment, you are not going to go out and buy a $250,000 home, unless you have a large sum of money set aside to make a sizable down payment!
Once you have determined what you can afford, the next step is to choose a mortgage plan. There are many different mortgages out there, so take some time and explore all of the possible plans for which you qualify. You could save yourself thousands of dollars in the long run!
Your agent can save you time and money by being your professional guide through the entire loan process. They will be able to counsel you on the advantages and disadvantages of certain types of loans and help you understand the "real" cost of a mortgage.