Shopping for a new home can feel overwhelming… but it should feel exciting, too! There are so many incredible opportunities to explore as a prospective homeowner — and your dream home is out there waiting for you.
The key is finding it, and we’ll be honest, that part can take some research. But when you take a few steps ahead of time to ensure you’re looking in the right direction, house hunting can be downright easy — and even fun! (Yes, for real.)
Here are some tips for finding the absolute perfect piece of real estate for your needs.
1. Start with pre-qualification.
It may be the least sexy part of the homebuying process, but getting a mortgage pre-qualification letter may be the way to get started. Along with ensuring sellers see you as a serious prospect, a pre-qualification letter also tells you exactly how much house you may afford — which is a pretty big factor to consider. Narrowing your search by price range helps ensure you don’t waste precious time during your home search.
Your home loan pre-qualification process may involve your lender pulling your credit score and other personal finance information in order to determine how large of a loan the bank is willing to give to you. Don’t forget that the total cost of buying a home includes both the home purchase price and the closing costs, and interest rates will continue to fluctuate until a loan is locked. In other words, it’s worth looking at homes whose asking prices come in slightly lower than your total approved amount!
2. Figure out what you actually need.
While it’s fun to go off on flights of fancy about all the extras our perfect home would have, from a mahogany library to a wine cellar (or whatever floats your boat), especially as a first-time homebuyer, you’re looking for the sweet spot between swoon-worthy and affordable — which means figuring out what you actually need versus what you’d want in an ideal world.
Of course, there’s still a whole world of possibilities within this more realistic thought process. Are you someone who loves to garden? Front-line homes that have ample outdoor space and sunshine. If you work from home, maybe a spare room to make into an office is an actual necessity and not just a luxury. Do you plan to raise a family? Look into the local school district — and make sure you’ve got enough bedrooms and closet space! It’s all about fitting your needs up against the local listings and seeing what sticks.
3. Make a list of deal-breakers — but go easy.
House hunting can be a lot like dating: some things are just an instant no-go. Along with making a realistic list of what you want, it’s a good idea to make a list of things that simply won’t fly. Maybe, for instance, you’re unwilling to invest in a type of home that shares walls, like a townhouse, or you don’t want to deal with a homeowners association. Making that clear from the beginning is another way to narrow your search.
In many instances, these deal-breakers may come down to ill repair issues found in a walkthrough or later in a home inspection: uneven floors, roofs that need replacement, water damage, and other serious structural issues can all cost tens of thousands of dollars (on top of the down payment and monthly mortgage payments you’ll already be making). Minor issues and cosmetics can be relatively easily fixed with affordable upgrades or less extensive renovations, so try to keep your deal-breakers list pretty short.
4. Think outside the box.
Even once you have your dream home in mind, it’s a good idea to be open to the apparition of dark horses. The housing market can be a bit of a wild ride, and sometimes, you might find a hidden gem where you least expect it.
For example, if you’re willing to expand out to the next neighborhood, you might find a larger or nicer house at a lower cost. Maybe you might even consider homes much further away, like out of state. Are you handy? You might consider buying a fixer-upper at a lower cost — with the understanding that you’ll probably have to put in a decent amount of money (and elbow grease) to get it ship shape with a total remodel.
In any case, go in prepared, but be open to surprises.
5. Be open to making a few compromises.
A lot of soon-to-be homeowners, especially first-time buyers, are convinced that the house has to be absolutely perfect in order to be worth it. But the truth is, most homes come with at least a few compromises.
Rather than committing to way-too-high expectations only to be disappointed, look for a home that checks most of your boxes (and doesn’t raise any serious red flags). It’s a competitive market out there, so of course, exercise caution…
Ready to get started on your own homeownership journey? Quontic has a wide range of mortgage loan programs including FHA loans, VA loans, and Community Development Loans, or CDLs, which may help non-traditional borrowers get qualified for a mortgage even without W-2 pay stubs. Our team of customer service professionals is standing by to answer any questions you have — and we can’t wait to help put the keys to the right home in your hand!
Quontic Bank is not affiliated with or acting on behalf of or at the direction of Federal Housing Authority (FHA) or any government agency or government sponsored entity. All lending products are subject to approval. Rates, program terms & conditions are subject to change without notice. Not all products are available in all states or for all amounts. This does not represent an offer to enter into a loan agreement. Other requirements, restrictions & limitations apply. Information is accurate as of December 23, 2021 & is subject to change without notice.