One of the most famous books around, with over 18 million copies in print, and that holds the title as the longest running "New York Times" bestseller ever, is What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Now in its fifth edition, this pregnancy bible walks parents through what to expect during the nine months leading up to and including delivery.
Buying a home is nearly as momentous as having a baby, and yet, most potential buyers don’t really know what to expect when closing on their home purchase. In fact, knowing what to expect is even more urgent because closing happens in a much shorter time-frame, in as little as 12 days in some cases.
So, what should you expect?
The one part those home-buying reality shows leave out is the closing. So, to many buyers, it remains a mystery until they're in the middle of it. Even real estate professionals get nervous about closing. It's the moment where anything can go wrong, and everything can go right! It begins with mountains of papers to sign and ends with a handful of keys in exchange for a lot of money. So just what is closing and what should you expect?
“Closing” is short for closing the deal or completing the transaction. During closing several significant things happen: Title of your home transfers from the seller to the buyer; the proceeds of the sale (everything remaining after any seller’s fees are paid) distribute to the seller; and if financing the home, the buyer signs the mortgage note, pays fees, insurances, taxes, and real estate commissions. A lot of things happen at closing, so give yourself plenty of time to understand each aspect of the process if it’s your first time around.
At the time of closing, your agent and your loan officer will inform you about what you need to bring to the meeting. Bring identification, so have your driver’s license or passport on hand. You’ll need a cashier’s check for your down payment and the closing costs that appear on your HUD-1 Settlement Statement. This three-page document outlines exactly what your obligations are at closing and in the future. In addition, small items crop up at closing that might need additional funds (furniture you requested the seller leave behind, extra propane or heating oil you're buying directly from the seller) and last-minute requests.
You'll be signing lots of papers. These legal documents obligate you for many years to come, so make sure you understand them. Also, make certain your name is spelled correctly on every page and every addendum. If you're purchasing with a partner or spouse, make sure the legal designation is as you want it. Changing it later may be difficult.
Recognize that while you may have a close estimate of closing costs, you will not know the exact amount until the day of closing, so round up a bit and have extra funds on hand. Sometimes you can swing a deal for the seller to pay all closing costs, but you’ll still be liable for pro-rated taxes, association dues, insurance, and other buyer obligations.
Don't be surprised by fees. Ask your agent to go over all the charges with you so that you know which ones you pay for and which ones the seller pays for.
A homebuyer must stay focused throughout the property buying journey. Otherwise, a buyer risks missing out on an opportunity to acquire the right house at the right price.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you stay on course during the homebuying journey.
1. Craft a Homebuying Strategy
Creating a homebuying strategy enables you to outline the steps that you'll need to take to make your homeownership dream come true. Plus, with a homebuying plan in place, you'll be better equipped than ever before to streamline your house search.
Think about where you want to live and what you want to find in your ideal residence. Then, you can make a checklist of home must-haves and wants. And once you develop this list, you can enter the housing market with a plan in hand.
2. Get Pre-Approved for Home Financing
Home financing plays an important role in a buyer's ability to acquire a residence. If you ignore home financing as you move along the homebuying journey, you may struggle to get the finances you need to purchase your dream house.
Oftentimes, it helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage so you won't have to worry about home financing as you move along the property buying journey. To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. That way, you can learn about all of your mortgage options and select a mortgage that matches your finances.
As you review your mortgage options, don't hesitate to ask questions. Banks and credit unions employ home financing specialists who can remove the guesswork commonly associated with getting a mortgage. These specialists are happy to respond to your mortgage concerns and questions and ensure that you can make an informed home financing decision.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to staying focused during the homebuying journey, it generally is a good idea to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer plenty of assistance throughout the property buying journey. And by doing so, a real estate agent will ensure that you can seamlessly navigate the property buying journey and achieve your desired results faster than ever before.
A real estate agent understands the challenges that buyers frequently encounter when they pursue houses and can help you plan accordingly. Furthermore, a real estate agent will guide you along each stage of the homebuying journey and do everything possible to help you avoid potential pitfalls.
Also, a real estate agent provides comprehensive support as you get ready to finalize a house purchase. He or she will help you get ready for a home inspection, appraisal or closing and ensure that you can purchase your ideal house at a budget-friendly price.
Don't lose focus as you pursue your dream residence. Instead, use the aforementioned tips, and you can stay on course and accomplish your homebuying goals.
Your credit score is a fundamental component of a mortgage lender’s decision to approve you for a loan. It can also affect the interest rate and loan amount you can secure.
Along with your income history and down payment, a solid credit score is one of the three most important things you’ll need when it comes to buying a home.
Credit scores themselves, however, can be a complicated business. And finding out what score you need to buy a home and how to achieve that score can also be a complex topic.
So, in this post we’re going to break down some credit score basics as they relate to buying a home.
Types of credit scores
You may have heard of the three main credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Each of these bureaus keeps a detailed credit history for everyone in America (except for those who have yet to open a line of credit or take out a loan).
Since each credit bureau may have slightly different information available data to draw from, your credit scores from each company may vary.
However, when it comes to buying a home, most lenders use a standard scoring model called a FICO score to ensure that all mortgage applicants are treated fairly when they seek a loan.
Things are further complicated by the fact that there are several different FICO scoring models designed for different types of credit. So, if you’ve seen your FICO score when applying for an auto loan, it may be a different score than you will see when applying for a mortgage.
Build credit; raise your credit score
All of the types of credit scores and scoring models can be confusing. But what you mostly need to worry about is how to boost your score.
Your credit score will be based on five main factors:
Making on-time payments
The percentage of available credit (not maxing out your cards)
Having diverse types of credit (auto loans, student loans, credit cards, etc.)
Not opening new lines of credit frequently (a red flag that you’re struggling financially)
The length of your credit history, or how long you’ve been consistently paying your bills
What score do you need to buy a home?
There are several different mortgage types available for buyers. First-time homeowners, veterans, people seeking to buy a home in a rural area, and any other number of circumstances can help you qualify for mortgages even if you have a low credit score.
A general rule, however, is that it’s always better to apply for a mortgage with a high credit score to help you secure the best possible interest rate.
Some programs do have minimum credit scores that they will accept for a mortgage. FHA loans are one common example. The Federal Housing Authority guarantees loans for people across the country who are hoping to buy their first home (or who haven’t owned a home in the last three years). Their guarantee is what enables lenders to safely approve mortgages for borrowers with low credit scores. The current requirement for an FHA loan is a credit score of 580 or higher for a mortgage with a 3.5% down payment. You can secure an FHA loan with a lower credit score, but you’ll have to make a larger down payment.
There are several other options available for hopeful homeowners when it comes to mortgages. But, if you aren’t planning on moving in the next few months and your credit score could use some work, now is the time to start focusing on building credit.
A home inspection is a crucial part of the homebuying process. At this point, a home inspector will walk through a house with you and examine the property inside and out. If a home inspector identifies underlying problems with a residence, these issues could put your purchase in jeopardy. On the other hand, if a home inspection reveals that there are no major problems with a residence, you may feel comfortable proceeding with a purchase.
Ultimately, how a homebuyer approaches a property inspection can have far-flung effects. For those who want to achieve the best-possible home inspection results, we're here to help you get ready for a house inspection.
Let's take a look at three tips to ensure you know exactly how to approach a house inspection.
1. Prepare for the Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios
Regardless of how a home inspection turns out, you need to be ready. That way, you'll have a plan in place to act quickly, even in the worst-case scenario.
In the best-case scenario after a house inspection, you likely will take a step forward in your quest to complete a home purchase. Conversely, in the worst-case scenario following a home inspection, you may rescind your offer to purchase a house and reenter the real estate market.
It also is important to remember that you can always walk away from a house sale if an inspection reveals there are significant problems with a residence. For a homebuyer, it is paramount to feel comfortable with a house after an inspection. If a home raises lots of red flags during an inspection, a buyer should have no trouble removing his or her offer to purchase a house.
2. Ask Plenty of Questions
A home inspector is a property expert who can provide insights into the condition of a residence. Thus, you should rely on this property expert as much as possible.
Don't hesitate to discuss a home with an inspector. Because if you ask lots of questions during a home inspection, you may be able to receive comprehensive property insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere.
3. Analyze the Inspection Results Closely
Following a home inspection, you'll receive a report that details a property inspector's findings. Review this report closely, and if you have follow-up questions about it, reach out to the inspector that provided the report.
Lastly, as you look for ways to streamline the homebuying journey, you should work with a knowledgeable real estate agent. This housing market professional can put you in touch with the top home inspectors in your city or town. Plus, if you want to request home repairs or a reduced price on a house after an inspection, a real estate agent will negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf.
Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent provides at other points in the homebuying journey, either. If you ever have concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent will respond to them at your convenience.
Prepare for a home inspection, and you can use this evaluation to gain the insights you need to make an informed homebuying decision.
If you’re hoping to buy your first home in the near future, you’re likely wondering about the different types of mortgages that you may qualify for. Since the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been insuring home loans for first-time homeowners across America.
This program helps people achieve homeownership who typically wouldn’t be able to afford the down payment or pass the credit score requirements to secure a traditional mortgage.
In today’s post, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions about FHA loans to help you decide if this is the best option for your first home.
Does the FHA issue loans?
Although they’re called “FHA loans,” mortgages are not actually issued by the FHA. Rather, they’re issued by mortgage lenders across the country and insured by the FHA.
Will I have to make a down payment?
With an FHA loan, your down payment can be as low as 3.5%, significantly lower than traditional loans at 20% down payment. However, you will be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) in addition to your monthly mortgage payments until you have paid off 20% of the home. So, the best case scenario would be to save as much as possible for a down payment to reduce the amount of mortgage insurance you have to pay.
What are the benefits of an FHA loan?
The three main reasons to secure an FHA loan are:
You can qualify with a low credit score
You can make a smaller down payment than traditional mortgages
Your closer costs will be less expensive
Where do I apply for an FHA loan?
You can apply for an FHA loan through a mortgage lender. You can also work with a mortgage broker to help choose a lender.
Is an FHA loan the only loan option for low down payments?
There are multiple loan programs offered at the state and federal level to help individuals secure a mortgage with a lower down payment. They can be provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USDA, or state-sponsored programs. Lenders also often sponsor their own programs to attract potential borrowers. However, always make sure you compare these programs to make sure you’re making the best long-term financial decision.
Do all FHA loans offer the same interest rates and costs?
No. Since the loans are only insured by the FHA, it’s up to the lender to determine your interest rate and fees. So, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best lender.
How high does my credit score have to be to qualify for an FHA loan?
You can secure a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% with a credit score of 580 or higher. However, if you can afford to make a larger down payment, you can secure an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500.
If your score is in the 500-600 range, it’s typically a better idea to spend a few months building credit before applying for a home loan.
What information will I need to apply?
You’ll need to gather all of the same information that you would for a typical mortgage. This includes W2s from your employer(s), two years of submitted tax forms, your current and former addresses from the past two years, and your gross monthly salary.
I’ve owned a house before, can I still qualify for FHA loans?
Even if you’re not a first-time homebuyer you can still qualify for an FHA loan. However, you cannot qualify if you’ve had a foreclosure within the last three years or have filed for bankruptcy within the last two years.