Buying a house can be your family’s most significant and largest investment. Right off the bat, this journey will cost you money and a lot of time and attention. To make sure your efforts are not in vain, you have to be familiar with a few things you will encounter on this journey. Here, we compiled a few important aspects of house hunting that every aspiring homeowner should know.
Take a Look at Your Finances
One important question you have to ask yourself before calling a real estate agent is this: “how much can I afford”? To answer this, you have to take a good look at your finances and determine the price range that won’t hurt you financially.
Brokers often use the term ‘affordable,’ but it’s not that simple. When discussing affordability, you must consider several factors, such as your debt to income or DTI ratio and mortgage rates. For example, a 43% DTI ratio is a standard requirement if you are qualified for a mortgage from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
It is the benchmark that the FHA is using to determine if you have the capability to make payments monthly. In addition to that, the 43% DTI means that other housing expenses such as property tax, homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance, and mortgage are not equal to or more than your 43% gross income per month.
Down Payment and Mortgage
The cash needed to come up with a down payment could be one of your largest expenses on this journey. Generally speaking, a down payment is when buyers pay upfront when they make a large purchase. The average down payment in the real estate world is usually equivalent to 20% of the property’s total value. However, there are ways for you to pay less than 20% depending on the type of mortgage that you’ll apply for:
- USDA Loans – the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program provides affordable mortgages for suburban and rural buyers who qualify for their program’s requirements and income limits. USDA loans usually don’t require any down payment
- Federal Housing Authority Loans – FHA provides loans with a down payment as low as 3.5% of the property’s total value
- VA Loans – the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers zero down payment for active and veteran military members and their legal spouses.
When applying for a mortgage, you will be asked to prove that you can pay off a loan. The documents you need to present include investment statements, bank statements, proof of current employment, and most recent tax return statements.
Once the background check is completed, you will get pre-approval from the lending entity. Being pre-approved gives you an edge in the market because the buyers know that you have the means to purchase the house.
Determine the Type of House
Houses come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Once you hit the market and start ocular visits, you will find out that there are tons of choices, which can be a bit overwhelming. The two most important factors that will impact your decision are the number of your family members and the amount of space you want and need. Here are some types of houses that you’ll encounter once you begin house hunting:
- Single Family House – single-family homes are free-standing houses built on a dedicated, single lot. It is intended for a single-family and can be in a townhome, condominium, or apartment. Single-family houses often have one to three bedrooms and at least one bath.
- Multi-family house – these types of houses are designed to accommodate more than one household and usually have more than 3 bedrooms and at least 2 baths. It can be a duplex, triplex, or even four-plex.
- Bungalow – a medium to large size type of home. It is free-standing on a dedicated lot and is usually 1 and 1/4 stories tall. Bungalow houses come with front porches, at least three bedrooms, and built-in cabinetry.
Since you are a family, you also have to consider the size of the garage. Some houses can only accommodate a single service utility vehicle, while others can fit at least two cars. Because of the recent economic crisis caused by the pandemic, some house hunters want a large garage or lawn, giving them automotive business opportunities. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone: you have a home and a source of income at the same time.
Now that you are already familiar with the foundations of every house hunting process, the next thing for you to do is to choose which type of neighborhood you want to live in. When deciding on this, always consider the basic needs of your family. Soon enough, you will be able to find that beautiful house that you can call your ‘forever home.’