As a Discover Home Loans mortgage professional, I’m regularly asked how to begin the process of buying a home.
As with most big decisions, you’ll need to weigh the benefits against the immediate and long-term time, energy and costs associated with owning a home. See how many of these statements apply to you and decide if buying a home is the right move for you.
1. Your rent is higher than a mortgage payment. The cost of renting, over time, can eclipse the cost of owning and maintaining a home. To help you decide if your finances would be better -suited to home ownership, check out the Rent vs. Buy Calculator from Discover Home Loans.
2. You’re staying put. Are you planning to stay in the same place for the next three to five years? If so, you might be better off buying a home. Keeping your house for several years helps to recoup the costs associated with a new home loan by building equity. The more equity you have in the house, the more you’ll benefit when you sell the home.
3. Your finances are set. Buying a home may seem intimidating, but with the right preparations it can be a seamless process and a smart financial choice. Determine how much you have saved for a down payment, as well as the amount you can afford to devote to a monthly mortgage payment. Lenders want to make sure buyers have the income to keep up with mortgage payments. Don’t forget a safety net to account for unexpected illness, change in employment or natural disaster—generally enough to cover three to six months of living expenses. There are many tools available online to help you determine how much house you can afford.
4. Your credit is under control. A good credit score helps you get the best deal on a home loan. Generally, the higher your credit score the lower your interest rate. Reviewing a copy of your credit report will give you insight into how your finances look to lenders.
5. You’re familiar with the housing market. Catch yourself browsing for homes online while watching your favorite home design or real estate show? You’re one step ahead. Keeping up with the cost of homes in and around your desired location gives you an understanding of what you can afford. Plus, you’ll learn about the home trends and factors that impact both the market and the price of a home.
Looking at Loan Options
If you’ve decided that buying a home is your best option, do your research on the type of mortgages available. When choosing a mortgage, every homebuyer has unique priorities to consider. Some want to make sure their monthly payments will never increase, while others are interested in keeping their monthly payments as low as possible. Make sure you review each option and select the one that is right for you and your lifestyle.
Interest rates also play an important role in obtaining a loan. If you have a rate that you are comfortable with, it may be in your best interest to lock it in with the lender. Interest rates often can shift between the time you apply for a loan and when the loan is approved.
Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. If you find yourself confused, consult an experienced mortgage banker you trust to explain all the details and options available.
TJ Freeborn is a mortgage professional at Discover Home Loans, where she confers with both mortgage bankers and consumers to understand current industry trends and consumer-facing lending issues, while working to craft strategic solutions that result in increased new business acquisition and customer retention efforts. In the past, TJ has operated her own marketing communications firm and established direct marketing, graphic design and promotional placement strategies for business enterprises. Additionally, TJ has held various marketing and communication leadership roles with industry-leading insurance carriers and financial service providers.
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