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5 Steps to Buying a Home

5 Steps to Buying a Home

Buying a Home can be a complicated process.  MCMF will show you the steps of the homebuying process, and provide helpful information to make this an uncomplicated process. 

Step 1: Deciding to become a homeowner

  • How long do you plan to stay in the home? It’s best to think about buying a home if you plan to remain in the area for at least 3-5 years. 
  • How does your rent compare to your estimated mortgage payment? In some areas, renting may be much more affordable than owning a home. 
  • Are you ready for the responsibility of owning a home? More than just making mortgage payments, being a homeowner also means paying insurance, making repairs, and sticking to a strict budget. 
  • Think about your reasons for deciding to buy a home. Are you considering buying because you are starting a family? Tired of renting? Trying to make money in real estate? Peer pressure? 

Step 2: Check out your options

  • Have you saved for a down payment? A down payment isn’t necessary for most first-time borrowers, but having one can help you save a lot of money on your mortgage. Ideally, you should have a down payment equal to 20% of the home’s price. 
  • Evaluate home prices in your area. Are there any areas that are more affordable? Do experts think home prices will increase or decrease over the next few years? You can use a home affordability calculator to see how much you can afford to buy. 
  • Take a look at mortgage rates and calculate some basic mortgage options. Are rates supposed to increase or decrease over the next few years? Is it better to have a fixed rate mortgage or adjustable rate mortgage? 
  • Research the home buying process online. MCMF offers a webinar and literature on Homebuying 101
  • Talk to people who have purchased homes in your area in the last few months. Ask them for their advice and opinions about buying a home. What challenges did they face? What tips do they offer? 

Step 3: Obtain a pre-approved mortgage

  • Start by comparing mortgage rates online without applying. Visit the websites of some of a few online lenders to estimate your mortgage options. Also evaluate your options with a local bank and credit union. Many companies have “pre-qualify” systems to estimate what you may be able to afford. Pre-qualifying is a good step for evaluating different lenders but is not the same as pre-approving. 
  • Once you have narrowed your search down to a few lenders, apply for a pre-approved mortgage with each company. Each application can cause a small drop in your credit score, so apply with moderation. 
  • Your pre-approval is basically a promise from the lender that you can qualify to borrow up to a certain amount of money at a specific interest rate. This promise is subject to a property appraisal and other conditions, however. 
  • Remember, your pre-approval is for the maximum amount you can potentially borrow. This is not the amount that you should spend or that you can comfortably afford each month. Try to use less than the maximum to buy a home. 
  • Act quickly, if possible. Most pre-approval offers last between 60-120 days before they expire. 

Step 4: Shop for a home

  • What features are you looking for in a home? Write a list of things that your ideal home will have. How many bedrooms? How many closets? Appliances? Take this list with you when you go look at homes. 
  • Take detailed notes about each home you see. It can be easy to forget the differences between properties when you are looking at several homes a day. Make a note of anything that needs to be fixed so you can evaluate the cost of these repairs. You may also want to bring a digital camera along with you. 
  • Check out the estimated value of the home online. 
  • Negotiate the price. In many housing markets, buyers have the power to negotiate a reduced price for a home. Work with your real-estate agent to come up with a good bargain. 

Step 5: Seal the deal

  • Arrange for a home inspection. An inspection is a necessary step before you agree to buy the home. A $200-400 inspection could potentially reveal serious problems with the home that need to be fixed before the purchase or that could invalidate your offer. 
  • Evaluate your homeowners insurance and warranty options. Shop around for the best deal on these policies now. You’ll need to secure your homeowner’s insurance before the final closing. 
  • Obtain final loan approval from your mortgage lender. Since you were pre-approved in Step 3, this should be cinch! 
  • Work with your agent or attorney to prepare the closing documents. This is the last major step towards becoming a homeowner and the step that requires you to sign a bunch of documents. Take some time to review these agreements closely and ask questions about things you don’t understand.


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