May 2015

8 Must Do’s Before Buying A House In NJ

8 Must Do’s Before Buying A House In NJ

It’s the perfect time to house hunt.  The weather has FINALLY warmed up, flowers are blooming, lawns are turning green, enticing you – calling your name.  We truly get it. It’s an exciting time to look for houses and envision your home –  A place where memories are created and lives built.

But before you embark on daydreaming, follow these 8 MUST DO things before the house hunt:

  1. Establish A Budget
  2. Create A Must-Haves, Needs & Wants List
  3. Choose A Neighborhood
  4. Know Your Credit Score
  5. Get Pre-Approved
  6. Find A Top Real Estate Agent
  7. Set Up An Emergency Fund
  8. Reserve Your Emotions

Now that you’ve gotten a preview, shall we?…..

1. Establish A Budget

You’ve been use to making payments while renting and have probably stuck to those financial goals.  The same concept applies here when you decide to buy a house.  You should figure out what you would be comfortable paying per month to give you a relative idea of what to expect.

Also, remember that when you own a home, there are other expenses that you might not initially be aware of like:

  • Taxes
  • Garbage Disposal
  • Home Insurance
  • Utilities and
  • Repairs to name a few…

You’ll be able to get details of what to expect when you sit down with a Home Loan Expert and Real Estate Agent.  Their knowledge about buying a home and what to expect will help you tweak your budget and prepare you for the future.  Now you’ll have a clearer picture of what it would be like to own and maintain your home without being stressed about finances, which leads to our next Must Do…

2. Create Must-Haves, Needs & Wants List

This is an exciting time – you’ll be looking at a bunch of possible houses that will fit your idea of a perfect home.  It’s important to outline what is essential to you and what you’d like but don’t necessarily need at the moment.

This list would be helpful for you to stay on track and pinpoint that needle in a haystack. Your list will also serve as a guide for your Real Estate Agent to hone in on the perfect house.

And on to the next Must Do…

3. Choose A Neighborhood

Now that you’ve got a realistic idea of what you should expect financially and a general idea of what house will be ideal, it’s time to pick a neighborhood!

You can arm your Real Estate Agent with a list of must-haves, needs and wants as well as let them know where to look for houses that fit that description.  If not, you’ll be running around on a wild goose chase.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Is the neighborhood safe?
  • What’s rush hour traffic like?
  • How long do I want to commute to work?
  • Is the house on a busy road?
  • Is the neighborhood clean and well-kept?

Try driving in potential neighborhoods at night and during rush hour to see what it would be like if you lived there.  Targeting a general location will help you cut down on the time to find a home and save you from seeing houses in less attractive locations.

And our next Must Do is….

4. Know Your Credit Score

Your FICO Credit Score will play a hefty part in the mortgage rate you secure.  Once you know your credit score, you can then determine whether you are financially healthy to move forward on buying a house in NJ or if it makes more sense for you to work on your financial health.

If you need to take a step back to be in a better financial position, it’ll be worth it – Follow these 5 tips on how to get credit ready to get started. Focusing on a healthier financial standing will save you money in the long run and give you peace of mind. 

The next Must Do is crucial when you want to buy a house and arguably the most important beginning step in the home buying process…

5. Get Pre-Approved

It’s an amazing feeling to have your own home and start the house hunt.  However, it’sÜBER important to find out how much home you can afford before looking for a house.

It’s extremely important to get a MORTGAGE PRE-APPROVAL versus a Mortgage Pre-Qualification.  mortgage pre-approval will ensure that you are able to purchase a house.  You’ll have to provide some documentation to verify your financial standing in order to get your home loan.

A local mortgage lender will guide you through the process, what to expect and how much home you are approved to buy.  They can discuss your future goals and see what program works best to achieve those short or long-term goals.  Your Home Loan Expert can also safeguard you from financially overextending yourself so you can enjoy owning a home.

A mortgage pre-approval will also let your Real Estate Agent know you are serious about buying a home versus just looking for fun, which leads us to our next Must Do…

6. Find A Top Real Estate Agent

You’re asking someone to help you make one of the most important investments in your life.  So picking the right agent to guide and advise you on the home buying process is important.

A Professional Real Estate Agent will be able to give insight on important things like:

  • Recent Home Sale Prices
  • Neighborhood & Community Info
  • School System Grading
  • Home Repair & Upgrade Costs
  • And Much More

Your Real Estate Agent should work for you.  Someone who will have your interests in mind and best represent you at the closing table.  He/She will also be able to point out any potential issues in the house that should be addressed.

Spend some time in choosing a Top Real Estate Agent (check out our must read about how to pick your team of pros – including a Real Estate Agent) – He/She will ultimately be an important person who will help you find the perfect house.  And to our next Must Do…

7. Set Up An Emergency Fund

Save money for emergencies that may occur.

Houses will need constant maintenance regardless of whether you buy a new or older house.  Preventative measures will always save you money in the long run if repairs need to be done that would affect the foundation of your home.

Plus, no one wants to be surprised with an “Uh-Oh” type moment where you won’t be prepared to fix a problem.

And last but NOT least, the last Must Do…

8. Reserve Your Emotions

Sounds weird, but actually checking your emotions at the door when looking for a house would be an advantage.

Buying a house in NJ is literally a business transaction.  It’s easy to be attached to a house that you believe is your home.  But it may be over budget or it could only cover a fraction of your Needs and Must-Haves list, which you diligently worked on BEFORE house hunting.  Either situation could end up costing you more – either financially, emotionally or even both!

You may get romanced by a home, but stick to what you started with (Budget, List, Location, etc.) to ensure that the home hits most of, if not all, of your Must Haves.

Hopefully, this post shed some light on what to expect and how to pre-game before you go on the house hunt.  Sticking to these Must Do’s before looking for a home will simplify the process and ease home buying anxiety.

If you are already further along the decision tree to buy a house, you can get a free rate quote and have one of our Home Loan Experts contact you to start the mortgage pre-approval.

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