We asked our resident experts to share their best advice on home buying. Because whether you’re a new home buyer or it’s been a while, a few helpful tips can help make the process go a whole lot smoother.
Understanding what you can afford can make all the difference in the home buying process. Consider requesting a pre-approval from a bank you know and trust. Pre-approval will help you set your budget and ensure your agent or broker finds properties within your budget.
When shopping for a home, it helps to narrow down your property search to a few select neighborhoods.
The process of buying a house is complex, and most people find it’s easier with an agent by their side. Agents know the drill and can be a great resource to direct you to inspectors, mortgage loan brokers and others who can help expedite the process. They also know what's fair and common practice in your geographical area.
How do I check my credit score?
You can use any of several online sites, such as Credit Karma, Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Or you can access your free credit report from freecreditreport.com.*
How much debt can home buyers have?
Your debt-to-income ratio plays a large role in whether you’re ready and able to qualify for a mortgage. It’s the percentage of your income that goes toward paying your monthly debts, and it helps lenders decide how much you can borrow.
*These are examples only. MFS does not endorse or partner with any of the above-mentioned sites or services.
Start to gather your bank statements and tax returns in advance. Other documents you might need include:
- Tax returns
- Pay stubs
- Other proof of income, bank statements and other assets, credit history, gift letters, photo ID and renting history
Is a home inspection required?
When buying a home, you’ll have an opportunity to have it inspected before signing all the paperwork at closing to take ownership of the property. While usually not required by mortgage lenders, home inspections give the buyer a clearer picture of the property’s condition, including any items that might need repair. They can also help identify potential hazards, like faulty wiring in an electrical panel.
Do I need a lawyer?
In today’s market, most sellers will use the same exact purchase contract and just fill in a few blanks. Legal issues may arise that your real estate agent can't answer but that an attorney can. Although good agents know a lot about the negotiating and contracting part of the process, they can’t make judgments on legal questions. When looking for a lawyer, consider one with real estate experience in the state of purchase.
When do I need to bring a lawyer into the process?
If you choose to have a lawyer assist with your home buying process, you can bring them in to help with the Agreement of Sale. Once you have the agreement, you can also choose to have your attorney review it.
When you're ready to make that big step, it’s important to contact a local community lender that you can trust to meet your financial needs.