Jonathan Parker & Sharon Kelley's Blog
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re upgrading to a larger house to fit your family’s needs, it’s vital to understand just how much house you can afford before you start shopping for homes.
When planning for your future home, there are two main things you need to figure out.
What is a smart amount to spend on a home for your budget
What are the key features in a home that will give you the most benefits for the cost
These two questions may seem simple, but there are quite a few factors that should go into determining each one.
So, in today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the process of determining what kind of house you can afford so you can make the best home buying decision for you and your family.
A smart home buying budget
To create an effective budget, you’ll need to gather some information and possibly create a spreadsheet with Excel (or a free alternative like Google Sheets).
On your spreadsheet, you’ll first want to add up all sources of income that your family has. This is the easy part for most people who only have one or two sources of income based on a salaried job.
Next, is the hard part--expenses. We can’t just use your current expenses to determine the new budget because we have to account for changes in several areas.
If you aren’t sure of the cost of living for the area you hope to move to, try plugging it into this cost of living comparison tool to see get a better idea of the cost of things like transportation, childcare, groceries, and more.
Likewise, it’s also a good idea to assume you’ll be paying more in utilities if you’re hoping to move into a home that is larger than your current home. Keep in mind, however, that different houses have different levels of energy-efficiency, so it’s a good idea to also ask the seller of the homes you’re interested in to determine what your costs might be.
Now, subtract your expenses from your income. The amount remaining should easily cover whatever mortgage payment you receive along with, ideally, 20% of your income going toward savings.
Deciding what you need in a home
The second part of determining how much house you can afford is to find out exactly what you’re looking for in a home. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location, the size of the backyard; all of these are questions that have a monetary value.
So, to really answer this question you’ll need a strong understanding of what you and your family’s goals are for at least the next 5-7 years, if not longer.
Once you have your long-term goals and a good understanding of your budget, you can start safely shopping for homes with a clearer idea of the type of home you’re looking for and just how much home you can afford.
Before you make the final decision to buy any property, one of the best steps to take is to request a home inspection to be done by an experienced home inspector. You probably don't know how to ascertain the quality of the foundation or the condition the electrical wiring is, so having a home inspector conduct a visit helps you identify things that you should watch out for as well as things to note before you finally purchase the home.
- Check the property on your own first. It's always helpful if you have had time to check out the house yourself before hiring a home inspector. You will be aware of things to point out to the inspector as likely issues, and the inspector can reassure you about things with which you are unfamiliar. This collaboration enables you to raise the questions when you are checking the property out with the home inspector.
- Be present in person during the inspection. Being there is equally as important as checking it out on your own first as you will have a chance to check those things you have seen earlier again and this time with a professional. Also, you want to be sure that the home inspector checks out every part of the property as he ought to, this he will do if you are present.
- Take your camera along with you for pictures. Every process of buying a new house requires getting great pictures for yourself as this helps you check again when you have a clearer head. You might not get an opportunity to go back to the house to have a second look at something you just remembered when talking about the property with your spouse or friends. So, it's always a great choice to have your camera with you during the inspection. Lots of pictures aid a quality decision.
- Work with a trustworthy inspector. Buying a property often costs a great deal, so it's best you work with folks that come recommended to you and that you can recommend. You don’t want to work with a home inspector without any loyalty to you or a credible recommendation from the past. To avoid any form of regret or fraud, you should seek out a trustworthy inspector so you can be sure you are getting a great property.
If you need help finding a reliable home inspector, you should ask your neighborhood real estate professional for recommendations.
As a homebuyer, it is important to set high expectations. At the same time, a homebuyer must act reasonably, or he or she risks missing out on a golden opportunity to acquire the perfect residence.
Ultimately, becoming a reasonable homebuyer can be quick and easy – here are three tips to help you do just that.
1. Establish Realistic Expectations for the Homebuying Journey
The homebuying journey sometimes can take weeks or months to complete, and a homebuyer should plan accordingly. By doing so, a homebuyer can prepare for any potential homebuying pitfalls.
For example, a homebuyer may submit an offer on a home and receive a "Yes" from a home seller. But if a home inspector discovers myriad problems with a residence, a homebuyer may need to walk away from the house and restart the homebuying journey.
In the aforementioned scenario, a homebuyer may become frustrated and annoyed, and for good reason. Conversely, if a homebuyer understands the challenges associated with buying a house, he or she can plan for the best- and worst-case scenarios.
2. Search for Homes That Fall Within Your Price Range
Have you established a budget for your home search? If not, you may wind up focusing on houses that you won't be able to afford.
Get pre-approved for a home loan – you'll be glad you did. With a home loan in hand, you can enter the real estate market with a homebuying budget. Then, you'll be able to narrow your home search to houses that fall within your price range, thereby speeding up your search for the ideal residence.
It won't take long to get pre-approved for a home loan, either. In fact, if you meet with local banks and credit unions, you can instantly learn about a variety of home loan options.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
Although you know that you want to buy a house, you have no idea what to expect during the homebuying journey. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can learn what it takes to stay calm, cool and collected as you search for a house.
A real estate agent is a housing market expert who takes pride in his or her work. As such, a real estate agent will be available to respond to your homebuying concerns and questions, ensuring that you can make an informed home purchase.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to eliminate homebuying hurdles.
For instance, a real estate agent is happy to negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf, guaranteeing that you can avoid the stress of negotiating a home price. Or, if you need help finding a qualified home inspector, real estate attorney or other local professionals, your real estate agent can provide honest, unbiased recommendations.
Be reasonable as you kick off your search for your dream residence. That way, you can seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey and improve your chances of acquiring a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.
A homebuyer must stay focused throughout the property buying journey. Otherwise, a buyer risks missing out on an opportunity to acquire the right house at the right price.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you stay on course during the homebuying journey.
1. Craft a Homebuying Strategy
Creating a homebuying strategy enables you to outline the steps that you'll need to take to make your homeownership dream come true. Plus, with a homebuying plan in place, you'll be better equipped than ever before to streamline your house search.
Think about where you want to live and what you want to find in your ideal residence. Then, you can make a checklist of home must-haves and wants. And once you develop this list, you can enter the housing market with a plan in hand.
2. Get Pre-Approved for Home Financing
Home financing plays an important role in a buyer's ability to acquire a residence. If you ignore home financing as you move along the homebuying journey, you may struggle to get the finances you need to purchase your dream house.
Oftentimes, it helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage so you won't have to worry about home financing as you move along the property buying journey. To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with a variety of banks and credit unions. That way, you can learn about all of your mortgage options and select a mortgage that matches your finances.
As you review your mortgage options, don't hesitate to ask questions. Banks and credit unions employ home financing specialists who can remove the guesswork commonly associated with getting a mortgage. These specialists are happy to respond to your mortgage concerns and questions and ensure that you can make an informed home financing decision.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to staying focused during the homebuying journey, it generally is a good idea to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer plenty of assistance throughout the property buying journey. And by doing so, a real estate agent will ensure that you can seamlessly navigate the property buying journey and achieve your desired results faster than ever before.
A real estate agent understands the challenges that buyers frequently encounter when they pursue houses and can help you plan accordingly. Furthermore, a real estate agent will guide you along each stage of the homebuying journey and do everything possible to help you avoid potential pitfalls.
Also, a real estate agent provides comprehensive support as you get ready to finalize a house purchase. He or she will help you get ready for a home inspection, appraisal or closing and ensure that you can purchase your ideal house at a budget-friendly price.
Don't lose focus as you pursue your dream residence. Instead, use the aforementioned tips, and you can stay on course and accomplish your homebuying goals.
A real estate agent is a must-have for homebuyers, particularly in a highly competitive housing market. However, it is important to understand what it takes to work with a real estate professional to ensure you can enjoy a fast, seamless homebuying experience.
What does it take to get the best results from the homebuying journey? Here are three rules to follow so that you and your real estate agent can work together to find your dream house.
1. Establish Realistic Homebuying Expectations Before You Begin Your Home Search
Buying a home can be a long, costly process if you're not careful. But with the right real estate agent at your side, you can simplify your house search.
Ultimately, you should work with a real estate agent to establish clear-cut homebuying expectations before you embark on your search for the perfect residence. This will enable you and your real estate agent to work together to achieve a common goal.
With realistic homebuying expectations, you'll be able to help your real estate agent understand what you'd like to find in your dream residence. Meanwhile, your real estate agent can get to work and keep you up to date about available homes that will meet or exceed your expectations.
2. Understand Your Real Estate Agent's Role in the Homebuying Process
A real estate agent should define his or her role in the homebuying process. That way, you'll know exactly what to expect as you go from homebuyer to homeowner.
Typically, a real estate agent will set up home showings, negotiate with home sellers on your behalf and offer honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. He or she also should be available to respond to your questions throughout the homebuying journey.
Your real estate agent will be happy to assist you in any way possible. By doing so, he or she will make it simple for you acquire to acquire your ideal residence at a price that matches your budget.
3. Ensure That Both You and Your Real Estate Agent Are Comfortable Working with One Another
Communication plays a key role in the success of a homebuyer and his or her real estate agent. If you keep the lines of communication open with your real estate agent, you should have no trouble staying on top of the housing market.
In most instances, a real estate agent will be able to keep in touch with a homebuyer via phone, email and text. At the same time, you should try to remain available to your real estate agent as much as possible.
With ongoing communication with your real estate agent, you'll be able to stay informed as new properties become available that fit your homebuying criteria. Furthermore, your real estate agent can help you alleviate stress by listening to your homebuying concerns at each stage of the homebuying journey.
Many real estate professionals are available in cities and towns nationwide. Start your search for a real estate agent today, and you can move one step closer to discovering your dream home.