Buying a home is one of the most important decisions of your life – especially buying your first home. Is the homebuying process a bit overwhelming and confusing to you? You’re not alone! Below we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive from first-time homebuyers.
1. Should I buy a home or continue to rent?
If your situation allows, buying a home is the way to go. When you rent, the money that you spend every month goes straight to your landlord, and you will never see that money again. If you pay $1,000 every month for rent, and you rent for 30 years, you’re basically throwing away $360,000. If you buy a home, on the other hand, your monthly payment will most likely be cheaper than your rent would be (interest rates are extremely low right now), and you would be building equity in your home. Win-win! Not only will you have your home paid off in 30 years, but your home will also be worth WAY more than it’s worth now, as real estate increases at a rate of about 5% every year.
2. How much money does it really cost to buy a home?
There are FHA & Conventional loan programs that are designed to get buyers into homes for as little as a $0 down payment. More commonly, FHA buyers are required to put 3.5% down. “Conventional” buyers typically put 5% down. VA loans are great and require 0 down. When you buy a home, you can also expect to pay up to 3% in closing costs.
3. Can I really get a home loan with bad credit and no money for a down payment?
There are 0-down loan programs that will allow you to have a credit score in the low-600’s. If your credit score is below that, there are companies that are great at credit repair and can help you put a plan in place to hopefully qualify for a home loan within a few months. When it comes to credit repair, the resounding advice you will hear from lenders is: “stick with it!” Your credit score probably won’t shoot up to 700+ overnight, but once it does, you’ll be glad you stuck it out!
4. What are closing costs?
Closing costs are expenses that are associated with buying a home. Some of these fees include: loan origination fee, appraisal fee, pre-paid interest, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and title/escrow fees. They usually run 2.5% – 3% of the sales price. The good news for you is that it is very common that a seller will pay for a buyer’s closing costs. This is part of the negotiations, which your real estate agent will guide you through.
5. Does a real estate agent cost me anything? How do I find a GREAT one?
There are many ways to find a great agent. The way that most people find a real estate agent is through a referral. If you hear that your best friend had a great experience working with Theory Real Estate, and that friend raves about their experience, you should consider taking their advice and at least interviewing their agent. A GREAT real estate agent will have a very good sense of the market, make educated recommendations about your offer, and answer any questions you have throughout the process.
As a buyer, your real estate agent does not cost you a penny. The seller typically pays both real estate agents’ commissions. Lots of buyers insist that they do not want to work with a real estate agent. Those buyers will drive by a “for sale” sign, call the listing agent, and make an offer directly through them. The problem with this scenario is that the listing agent for a property works for the SELLER. It is their job to put as much money as possible in the seller’s pocket. You don’t want that; you want somebody that is representing YOU.
6. Why does my real estate agent insist that I talk to a lender before looking at homes?
The real estate market is very competitive right now. What this means is that when a house is listed, the seller often receives multiple offers within 24-48 hours. If you love the house, and if you REALLY want it, you’ll want to make an offer right away. BUT, if you have not talked with a lender, and if you do not have a pre-approval letter, you are not able to make an offer. A listing agent (most of the time) will not submit an offer to the seller if it is not accompanied with a pre-approval letter. If you talk with a lender and get your pre-approval before you start looking at houses, you won’t have this problem!
7. How do I find a GREAT lender?
Like when you are looking for a real estate agent, the most common way that people will gravitate towards a lender is if they are referred. Your real estate agent will have a great list of lenders that he/she has worked with, so check with him/her if you haven’t had another lender recommended to you. A GREAT lender is someone who will get back to you right away and answer any question you may have about the process!