Ready to find your perfect home? Avenue is here to help Houstonians become sustainable homebuyers.
Here are four tips that will help you successfully navigate the home buying process.
1. Strengthen your credit score before you look for a mortgage. Many people are confused about their credit score and how to strengthen it. Since looking for a home can take anywhere from one to three months on average, sometimes even longer, it could pay off to use the home shopping time to strengthen your credit score, especially if it means getting a lower mortgage rate. How much lower? Although not every lender is the same, a strong credit score can cut as much as half a percent from your rate.
A housing counselor from the Avenue HomeOwnership Center can provide guidance on what to do to boost a credit score while shopping for a home.
2. Shop around for the best mortgage. Not every lender offers the same mortgage rate, so shopping around is essential, but something the average person doesn’t do. According to data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, nearly half of people who apply for a mortgage don’t shop around. Failing to do so could be expensive month after month, and really add up after several years.
As important as it is to obtain the best mortgage rate, it’s also crucial to be aware of fees charged by mortgage lenders. These fees go by various names, another reason to work closely with a housing counselor from [insert name of local organization] throughout the mortgage process in order to navigate the complicated process.
3. Choose carefully. With a strong mortgage approval letter in hand at a great rate, it’s time to find your home. A market with low housing supply requires a buyer to look for diamonds in the rough, and perhaps be willing to accept the not-so-perfect dream home. That doesn’t mean that a buyer should settle for a house that doesn’t meet his or her needs. Keep your list of must-haves front and center, but make sure that the items are must-haves and not nice-to-haves. Many housing counseling organizations like Avenue can provide a homebuyer with a starter list of real estate agents from which to choose.
4. Negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate. If real estate is location, location, location, then home buying is negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate. Unless you’re buying in the most heated and competitive markets, there is always room for negotiation. Here’s where picking the right real estate agent pays off. Whether it’s the price – probably the most important item to negotiate –or if the seller will pay a portion of closing costs, or provide a home warranty on major appliances, approaching the seller with a list of things you want is something everyone should do. Remember, the seller wants to sell, and you want to buy. Successful home purchases that work for both sides are made in the middle.
Following these tips and working with the team at the Avenue HomeOwnership Center will help you successfully find your “home sweet home.”
Avenue’s HomeOwnership Center can help you on your journey to homeownership from the basics of managing your finances and building credit and savings, to navigating the actual home purchasing process and maintaining your home in the long-term.
Register for a Pre-Purchase Homebuyer Education class today and email to subscribe to the Avenue Homebuyer newsletter. Classes are available in both English and Spanish.