8 steps to take before making an offer on a home

Buying a home is a multi-step process that involves many moving parts and a good amount of “up front” work. Though your personal circumstances may dictate how you go about the homebuying process, we’ve provided a general checklist of tasks that will likely need to be accomplished before you even make an offer on your dream home.

1. Check your credit score
Make a request to see your credit report and check it for inaccuracies. You’ll want to correct any erroneous information before speaking with a mortgage lender. Mistakes in your credit report could reflect poorly on you, which in turn could have a negative impression on the lender.

2. Think about how much you want to spend each month
Outside of monthly expenses such as groceries and entertainment, you’ll need to consider how much you are willing and able to put toward homeownership expenses, such as a mortgage, real estate taxes and insurance rates. Depending on where you live, you may also need to take an HOA fee into account. To get a feel for what mortgage amount may be within your budget, use the online mortgage calculator provided by AustinHomeSearch.com.

3. Decide how much you can put towards a down payment
Most down payments will be anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent of the home’s selling price; however, you may be able to opt for a rate lower than 5 percent depending on which type of mortgage loan you go with.

4. Find a REALTOR®
Not only do REALTORS® know their markets and particular neighborhoods like the back of their hand, but they can also assist in negotiations and legal paperwork. Finding a REALTOR® to guide you through the home buying process can save you time, trouble and money. It’s a good idea to interview your REALTOR® (or several REALTORS®) to make sure you find the real estate professional who is right for you.

5. Talk to a REALTOR® about your wants and needs in a home
Although you may have conducted a preliminary Austin real estate search to get an idea of where you might like to live and what home features you like, discussing your ideal home with your REALTOR® is very important. With this information, your REALTOR® will be better able to introduce to you to homes that meet your criteria, possibly within neighborhoods you may have never before considered as an option.

6. Find a mortgage lender
Banks and credit unions are common places to find a mortgage lender. You’ll want to do some research to find a lender that can give you a good rate. Lenders can also help you determine what type of loan is right for you.

7. Get your paperwork in order for your lender
You’ll likely need to provide personal documentation to your lender, such as your driver’s license, employment information, pay stubs, recent tax returns and credit history. Make sure to confirm with your lender exactly what documents they need to see.

8. Find out how much money you qualify for
Banks use a certain percentage of your monthly income, as well as other factors, to determine what amount of money you are qualified to borrow and at what rate. Keep in mind that, once qualified, the mortgage rates you’ve been quoted may only be locked in for a certain period of time.

Once you’ve accomplished these steps, you’ll be prepared to make an offer on a home and begin the most exciting part of your journey. Your REALTOR® will be there to offer his or her expertise, assist in the negotiating process and guide you through the closing process until you finally receive the keys to your new home. For more great tips on buying a home, visit our Consumer Tools section here at AustinHomeSearch.com.

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