FutureMrsR
VIP May 2018

NWR: Buying a house! Tips?

FutureMrsR, on June 30, 2017 at 2:23 PM Posted in Married Life 0 38
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Hi all! FH and I are hoping to purchase our very own house around the end of this year/beginning of next year. Any tips from those who are experienced in this? When should we start seriously looking at homes? We've gone on a few tours and open houses, but haven't done much more than that. Also, what should we have in order before contacting our credit union?

I feel confident we can get a good rate (my credit score is 745, his is 710; and we have quite a bit of money saved up), but any advice is welcome to help us accomplish that. Hoping to approach a realtor soon for advice, as well!

38 Comments

  • FutureMrs
    Super January 2019
    FutureMrs ·
    • Flag

    Get a really good and trustworthy realtor!

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  • Kirstie819
    Super August 2017
    Kirstie819 ·
    • Flag

    Make sure you have all your financials in order. They typically look at the last 3 months worth of bank statements. So if anyone is planning on giving you money towards it you need to have documentation of it, you can call it an engagement present but it needs to be in writing from the gifter. I wouldn't start looking at homes until you're preapproved. Also once you are pre approved don't use that number as the top of your budget. So if they pre approve you for $200,000 I'd look for something about 5-10% under that if not more. We ended up purchasing a home for about 15% below what we were pre-approved for and it's been great because we can still save a good chunk each month.

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  • FutureMrsR
    VIP May 2018
    FutureMrsR ·
    • Flag

    Does the friendor rule apply to realtors? We have a good family friend who owns their own company, and it's one of the biggest ones in our town.

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  • Jessica
    Devoted December 2017
    Jessica ·
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    We've always used a family friend as our realtor and he was great, and when FH and bought our house last year in a different we used his friend and she was great

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  • ambrok
    Master October 2017
    ambrok ·
    • Flag

    2nd Kristie819's advice!

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  • Jessica
    Devoted December 2017
    Jessica ·
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    Also yes, get everything in order first and figure out how much you can afford before you look. Our house had another offer in but the buyer had to back out when they tried to get financing and weren't approved. It worked out since we got the house in the end but it had to have sucked for the other person

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  • VC
    Master May 2017
    VC ·
    • Flag

    Have a real estate agent you absolutely trust

    You should FALL IN LOVE with the home, don't settle.

    Get pre-approved so you know how much you are working with and afford.

    If your market is hot, be ready to commit and pounce which means have your money in order and ready.

    Know your expenses and what you can afford. Factor in utilities, taxes, how far are you from your jobs (extra commute times or gas etc)

    Come up with wants, needs and deal breakers to save you time when house hunting and that you can provide to your agent. YOU WILL find that as you see more houses, these things do change and you may be willing to sacrifice some things or you may learn new items are deal breakers etc.

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  • DeniseD
    Master May 2015
    DeniseD ·
    • Flag

    Don't end up being house poor. You want to ensure you are able to still put money in savings for repairs, vacations, etc.

    Inspector, inspector, inspector.

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  • Joanna
    Expert October 2017
    Joanna ·
    • Flag

    FH & I are closing on our first house today!!

    Here are some tips:

    (1) be prepared to make multiple offers - we put in 5 different offers before getting our home

    (2) be prepared to look and look and look some more - we easily looked at 40+ houses

    (3) be patient - we lucked out and it only took us 4 months. A friend of mine spent over 6 months looking before she found something.

    (4) make sure your finances are in order - like PP mentioned, they will dig into the past 3 months or so of employment/income records

    (5) have an extra cushion of funds in the bank (closing costs are a bitch - lol)

    (6) most importantly - enjoy the process and don't rush it. The right house will truly come along at the right time!!

    Happy house hunting!!!!

    • Reply
  • APZ
    VIP March 2017
    APZ ·
    • Flag

    Seconding going lower than the pre-approval amount. we were purchased about 20-25% less than we were approved for. FH works in banking and is very fiscally conservative. Our mortgage is a good bit lower than our rent--which allows us to set money aside for other home expenses, which you will find pop up all over the place (like a home warranty, pest control, general maintenance and repair, updates, etc and cash for a home inspection in our area was 500-1000&dollarSmiley winking Our finances we in order and were preapproved so we put an offer in the day our house went back on the market(it had gone under contract previously-but their financing fell through, so we pounced)

    also- nothing wrong with going through a realtor you know as long as you actually trust them to have your best interest in mind. also nothing wrong with working with someone else that has credible reviews.

    How is the market in your area? If the market doesn't have many listings, or listings move extremely fast, you may want to plan on needing a little more time to shop. Otherwise it could move fast. For us, we got very lucky to only hunt for about 2 weeks, before getting our offer accepted, then a 30 day closing. In our area many hunt for several months and put in numerous offers before getting one accepted then a 30 or 60 day closing.

    Last thing: NO big purchases/payments anywhere close to closing!!

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  • Kirstie819
    Super August 2017
    Kirstie819 ·
    • Flag

    My best friends dad is a realtor and he was amazing. I think it helped a lot because he constantly had the thought, oh my daughter will be here and will potentially stay here some nights make sure it's the best I can find for what they can afford.

    Oh and don't rule certain neighborhoods out. We love our house and wouldn't have looked at it without the suggestion of our realtor.

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  • andrea
    Super September 2017
    andrea ·
    • Flag

    Me and FH decided to buy a house first before the wedding and had no plans to even have a wedding. We bought our house 3 years ago and it took us about 10 months of looking and putting in offers to finally find the right one. The market was hot too at that time. So I would suggest seriously looking now. Depends on your area but it could take quite a bit of time.

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  • MNBride
    Master June 2017
    MNBride ·
    • Flag

    Go to a mortgage broker so you know how much you are approved for and how much cash you will need at closing. You will most likely get approved for a lot more than you can realistically afford. I think its best to be approved before you start looking, you could find the perfect house at any moment and you want to be ready to put in an offer. The market is crazy right now, a lot of houses here anyway have multiple full priced offers within the first day.

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  • Jillian
    VIP October 2017
    Jillian ·
    • Flag

    Echoing PPs -- get pre-approved. You don't want to fall in love with a home only to have it bought out from under you because your financing wasn't in order. You should be able to get a letter showing what you're approved for. Usually they'll want six months worth of paystubs and your most recent W-2s, but you should be able to call and check with your credit union.

    Do your research. Some banks will offer better interest rates than others (and some will have rates that can fluctuate! Make sure you get a rate locked in that the bank can't change down the line).

    The "When to Start Looking" question is a bit difficult to answer....we started looking in February and moved in Memorial Day weekend. Keep in mind this is Ohio, so it was cold and snowy while we were looking (i.e. - there wasn't a whole lot of competition). That being said, a lot of listings go up in spring.

    Also, if you're planning on having kids, make sure you look into the school district you're moving into.

    And have a serious sit down with FH around what you both want out of your home. With my FH, an unfinished basement, two car garage and updated wiring was a must, and we both wanted a specific number of bed and bathrooms --- along the way though, we realized we left out space for our game room (we're arcade nerds), so that got added. If you know what you're looking for going in, you'll save yourselves a lot of time. Also keep in mind while you're looking at homes that EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE. You like those window treatments? Tell your realtor to put them in the contract. You want the seller to split the closing costs? Put it in the contract. I think you'd be good to go with your friendor as a realtor, because its a lengthy process and you want to work with someone who actually listens to you and FH about what YOU want as opposed to them trying to hurry through the process and get a commission.

    We didn't know our realtor going into the process, but he and his wife are such good friends of ours after a year and a half that they're invited to our wedding (they helped us move in, we've been to their house for game nights, etc).

    Good luck!

    • Reply
  • L
    Expert April 2018
    lindabelcher ·
    • Flag

    So, like others said, get pre-approved first (and find a bank that you trust). Before or after that, find a realtor that you love! (I think friendors are fine because they will go the EXTRA mile for you! Ours did!). ETA: You will need paystubs and income tax records. Don't start looking until after this!

    Make a HONEST list of what you ABSOLUTELY have to have, would like to have, and hard passes. Let your realtor show you houses that they think might work for you. Look for houses in a community because there can be a lot of perks there (like community center, pool, grass mowing, etc.)

    My realtor said, that most first time home buyers sell their house in 5 years, so you might settle on some stuff because you are going to move in 5 years, haha!

    Go below your approval limit. We bought a house 28% below our limit.

    Look at houses AND rate them as soon as you finish the tour. This prevents them from getting all mixed up because as soon as you rate two houses above it, you can knock a house out.

    Once you decide to make an offer,

    -Ask the seller to pay closing costs (ours paid 100%)

    -Ask the realtor to include a home warranty plan (ours covers the all mechanical items in our house - washing machine to HVAC)

    - GET. AN. INSPECTION. Make sure you understand EVERYTHING.

    -Ask the seller to pay for the results from the inspection.

    -Put down some earnest money (we put down $1k). It make you look like a more promising buyer (i.e. less likely to back out.) If you back out of your contract for an unsupported reason (i.e. b/c you found a house you like better, you have buyer's remorse), the seller can petition to keep that money.

    -Don't be afraid to take your time but don't take too much! Interest rates for loans on the rise. My friend bought a house two weeks before we did and her interest rate is 1% higher than ours. They dropped for us, and are now almost 2% higher! So, keep an eye out for that!

    -Do not make any big purchases that will mess up your debt to income ratio. Do not use your credit cards for anything!!!

    -Do not be afraid to haggle a little. We got our house for below asking with them paying the closing costs, transfer fee, and home warranty.

    Happy house hunting!!!

    • Reply
  • Rachel
    Devoted September 2017
    Rachel ·
    • Flag

    Thanks for asking this question. We want to start looking at houses not too long after the wedding and I've been wondering all of these things

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  • Chivy
    VIP September 2018
    Chivy ·
    • Flag

    Figure out what you can comfortably afford and get pre-approved for it now. Unless there's a major change in employment or income, it won't "expire"

    Don't start looking at homes until you're ready to potentially put in offer on one. No point in falling in love with a house you can't get.

    In the time between now and when you start looking, decide where you want to live, make a list of must haves and things you're flexible on.

    Also if you don't have one in mind already, research real estate agents. I wouldn't reach out to one until you're ready to start seriously looking tho.

    • Reply
  • chelle
    Devoted August 2017
    chelle ·
    • Flag

    Honestly, I would go ahead and contact a realtor now just to get an idea on the market in your area. Talk to them about your wants and needs and figure out what neighborhoods and areas you like and want to be in. Your realtor can then let you know whether houses last on that market for months or weeks or days. Either way you need to know because that can affect how quickly you make an offer. There will be some things on your list that are must haves and some things that aren't so prioritize what you want in a home and discuss that with your realtor as well

    • Reply
  • SnowyBride
    Devoted March 2018
    SnowyBride ·
    • Flag

    Definitely agree with everyone else... find a realtor you trust, get pre-approved, and find a place below your pre-approval amount. We bought 20% lower than our pre-approval and will now have money for entertainment! My only other piece of advice is shop around for a mortgage. We got pre-approved with one bank and I was really unhappy with them once we officially applied for the mortgage. They were being really difficult because our house is a bit of a unique situation (2 buildings on 1 property). We ended up researching two other banks and switched to one that was recommended by our home inspector. Oh... find a highly rated inspector too. So so so important!

    Definitely get all your finances in order, be prepared to provide documentation of everything financial (taxes, bank statements, paystubs, etc.) no big purchases (they literally look at everything!!) and keep on top of your deadlines!!

    Happy hunting!!!

    • Reply
  • Wanda
    Super February 2018
    Wanda ·
    • Flag

    Agree with all the above PPs have said.

    I would emphasize what lindabelcher said about rating the houses immediately after looking at them, so you're only ever comparing 2 houses at most.

    Know what are must-haves, like-to-haves, and deal-breakers.

    Know what is changable (paint, carpet) and what is not (location, school district).

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