Owning a home is part of the American dream for citizens across the nation. If you live in North Dakota or Minnesota, there are basic rules of thumb to follow to achieve home-buying success. There are also mistakes you should avoid, including these five common missteps:
Not Knowing the Difference between Being Prequalified and Preapproved
Before you get your heart set on a neighborhood or house, know how much of a mortgage you can afford. To do this, you first need to obtain a pre-qualification. This is not a definite yes or no to your loan request, but it is a number to set you on your path to home ownership. To grant a pre-qualification, your lender will look over your income and debts to come up with a price range you can afford. When you’re seriously ready to start making offers on homes, you need to move to the next step, which is to obtain a preapproval. To preapprove you for a mortgage, your lender will need to verify all the information you provided on the prequalification, including your credit score.
Not Looking Far Enough Into the Future
When you buy a house, it’s important that you look into your future. If you are newly married, a two-bedroom home may seem like plenty of space for you and your spouse, but take a look at a few years down the road. Are you planning to have children? If so, it would be wise to purchase a place with room to grow. On the flip side, if your kids are teens who will be moving out in the next couple years, don’t buy a house with way more space than you will need when you are an empty nester.
Buying Through an Emotional Lens
Although a home may be where the heart is, house buying is a business endeavor. It’s important to keep a logical perspective when crunching numbers, thinking about your commute, estimating how much it will cost to heat your place in the frigid North Dakota or Minnesota winters, and deciding whether the neighborhood is a place where you want to live long term. Some buyers fall in love with a front porch, a backyard, or master suite and forget about everything else. While you want to adore your abode, don’t let your emotions taint your reasoning.
Forgetting to Think About Hidden Expenses
There are more expenses involved in home ownership than just paying your mortgage payment. Be sure you factor in all the other costs you’ll have to shell out each month. For example, you will need to pay utilities such as gas, electricity, water and sewer. If you plan to watch cable television and have Internet service, you’ll also have to add that to your total monthly bills. Homeowners are the ones who have to take care of all maintenance and repairs, too, such as tuning up or repairing the HVAC system, patching or replacing a leaky roof and unclogging plumbing snarls. You’ll also need to take a look at how your loan is structured. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage, it’s important to plan for interest rate fluctuations. Plus, some mortgages are “principal only,” which means you’ll have to plan ahead to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance. A good mortgage lender will advise you throughout this process and help to make sure you don’t get in over your head.
Not Carefully Selecting Realtor and Lender
Not all realtors and mortgage lenders are alike. The professionals you choose to work with will make a difference in how successful your home-buying process will be. It’s smart to get referrals from family members and friends, and then to interview both your potential realtor and lender. You want to make sure you feel comfortable with their communication styles and follow-through, because you will be spending time together on the all-important home-buying journey. Having savvy professionals who understand your wants and needs will go a long way. Be sure to ask your lender about the different types of mortgage loans his or her company offers, so you understand the options and can choose the right one for your situation.