Do your summer vacation plans this year involve purchasing a home? If you’re ready to make a move now, you could have the whole summer to get to know your new surroundings.
Avoiding mistakes can save you a lot of time and money. Here are some tips from professional Long & Foster Realtors to help ensure you’re primed for a successful homebuying journey this spring and summer:
Pay your bills on time. During the weeks and months leading up to making what’s likely the biggest purchase of your life, it’s extremely important to baby your credit. A reputable mortgage lender, such as Prosperity Home Mortgage, a Long & Foster company, will look closely at credit history and help you find the best loan products. Having great credit improves your options.
Long & Foster agent Dawn VanKeuren, based in Leesburg, Virginia, said she has seen clients save thousands by addressing negative information in their credit files.
“I had a client who listened to the lender and cleaned up her credit before she purchased a home, and she was able to get a better interest rate because her credit was higher,” VanKeuren said. “A lower interest rate means lower monthly payments.”
And see your credit report before lenders view it. If you haven’t looked at your credit, www.annualcreditreport.com is where you can, by federal law, obtain a free report from three major U.S. credit bureaus.
Find an agent and a lender you trust. “A good lender and strong agent are your most valuable team players in getting you into a home that is right for you financially and that fits your lifestyle,” said Diana Geremia, a Long & Foster Real Estate agent based in Purcellville, Virginia.
It’s important to find an agent who knows the areas where you are looking, Geremia said. A professional who is plugged in to the neighborhoods offers deep knowledge beyond what’s available on the internet, whether it’s a home that’s not listed yet or a street where the client hadn’t considered looking but meets their criteria.
Put the commute into your projected budget. A major financial decision like buying a house means a total budget shakeup. Geremia said homebuyers need to remember to factor in commuting costs when figuring out what they can afford in the future. Fuel costs could negate savings on a less expensive house farther from the office, for example.
Consider your five-year plan. Will you be an empty-nester? Do you expect to expand your family? How is your income likely to change? A lot happens in five years, Van Keuren and Geremia said. Buying a home is better than renting if you plan to stay in the same place for a certain length of time, which can vary greatly between and even within markets. A rent vs. buy calculator plus the advice of a Realtor who knows the market can help you determine at what point in the future your home purchase would become better for you financially than renting.