Compiling a Wish List
A well-designed wish list will serve as a blueprint for your house shopping experience, providing a constant reminder of the features you want in your new home.
Creating a wish list is a great way to get ready for your home search. Once you have begun shopping and viewing homes, it is easy to forget some of the features that you want or need in your new home - especially if the market is strong, and you are pressured to make quick decisions.
Your wish list should include all of the features you need in your new home. Homes that do not include everything on this section of the list will be rejected. A second section of the list should specify those items that you would like, but do not require. Ideally, the house you purchase will include most of these features; however, a property will not be disqualified from consideration if it doesn't include every item.
Consider the following subject areas - all of these categories should be included in any wish list.
Schools and Community Services
Even if you don't have children, the quality of the school system is a major contributor to property values. If you do have kids, the issue is a primary one. Is proximity to the schools important to you? Are you concerned about parks and other community amenities and services?
Age and Condition
Are you looking for a newer home or do you prefer an older one with more character? Are you willing to purchase a home that needs repairs or improvements to enhance your buying power?
General and Structural Issues
Do you need a full basement? A two- or three-car garage? Is central air conditioning a must? What sized lot do you require? Is a large (and level) backyard a necessity? How important is landscaping?
Style and Layout
What style of home appeals to you - ranch, colonial, contemporary, etc.? Do you prefer one- or two-story designs? Do you have any specific layout requirements or preferences (for example, a first-floor master bedroom)?
How many bedrooms and baths do you want and/or need? What other rooms must your plan incorporate - a formal living room, a dining room, a study, a family room, a large eat-in kitchen? What are your storage requirements?
Architectural and Design Features
What types of design features do you value most? Popular items include patios, decks, fireplaces, high-ceilinged rooms, and built-in shelving.
Do you particularly want any special features in your new home - views, golf, swimming pool,bonus space, expansion potential, home office, etc.? If so, how important are these items to your satisfaction with a new property?
Getting a Mortgage
Securing a mortgage is the first step toward closing - and moving day. Of course, if you're pre-qualified you are a step ahead.The mortgage application process can be confusing and intimidating, especially to first time purchasers - but today's market offers homebuyers more options than ever before.
Have Your Records Ready
Organizing your records ahead of time will help speed things along when you're completing mortgage applications.
Shop For a Lender
There are many types of lenders in today's mortgage market - review their loan terms to decide which offers the best package for your needs. If you have credit problems or other difficulties, look for a lender specializing in this type of loan. Don't forget to check out online lenders as well.
Consider Loan Types and Terms
Today's mortgage market offers a bewildering array of financing options and loan programs - each with different rates, points, and amortization schedules. Consider the details of each so you can select the one that best suits your needs.
Choose the Right Loan
After considering the various mortgage programs available it's time to make your selection. Don't forget to review all aspects of the loan, not just the interest rate - the points, fees, and term can be just as important.
Watch Interest Rates
Keep an eye on interest rates during (and after) your mortgage search. Many lenders offer the option of locking in the interest rate before closing - a valuable alternative if rates are rising.
Apply for Your Loan
Carefully complete each section of the application and provide all of the documentation required by the lender along with the loan application fee. Maintain frequent communication with your loan representative - if you haven't heard anything within 1-2 weeks call and ask about the status of your application. Respond promptly to any requests for additional information.