Shopping for a house can be a very intimidating process; this is especially so if it is the first time you are doing this. The first thing you need to do before you start the process is to find out whether owning a home is the correct decision for you. This may or not be the case depending on your current circumstance. It is important to take into account other incidental costs that come into play when you have a home such as home maintenance, occasional repairs and lawn care amongst a whole list of others. Here are some important tips and steps on how to buy a home.
The first thing you need to do is to check your credit report and score. Before you get a mortgage or any other kind of loan, it is always important to check your credit. Scores generally range between 300 and 850. If your score is higher, then you do qualify for a better loan. Always make a point of checking your report for errors, if there are any then make a point of disputing them and having them corrected.
The next phase involves figuring out how much you can actually afford. This is usually dependent on the type of house you have opted for and its size. Prices of a townhouse, condo or mobile home are bound to be different. Use the online mortgage calculators to help you calculate the monthly mortgage payment. It is also important to factor in other costs such as closing costs, down payment and an array of fees such as attorney, inspection and appraisal fees. Get a loan expert to help you figure out your loan options and some of these fees.
Once this is done, you should shop around so and get the best mortgage lender. Check with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and also seek out recommendations from family members and friends who may have gone through the process. Make a point of asking four or five lenders so as to get the correct picture. If you are comfortable with a lender, make sure you are issued with a pre-approval. This is more detailed and different from a pre-qualification and gives you a better idea about the size of loan you are qualified for. If you want to, you can even go ahead and get an actual approval from the lender before you start home shopping. This will make your sale go quicker and also makes your offer to other sellers more appealing and convincing since your financing is guaranteed. Keep in mind that the conditions for getting a mortgage for brick and mortar homes tend to differ from those placed on purchasing a mobile home.
After knowing how much you can afford, you can then go ahead and make a list of the basic things you need in house and the type of home you want, a condo, a cottage etc. how big do you want your kitchen to be? Do you need lots of cabinet space and closets? Do you need a big yard for your children and pets? Answering these questions will allow you to zero-in on the best option for you. Think about the neighborhood you prefer, the distance you will commute from work, types of schools you want and your overall safety.
After finding the home you want, you should then make an offer. A huge majority will tag their houses slightly higher because they expect you bargain a bit, the comfortable place to start is about 5% below the asking price. Once you have agreed on a price, you will be expected to make an earnest money deposit; this is money that goes into an escrow account and is meant to be a sign of good faith.
You should then strive to get the correct or right mortgage program; there are basically three basics worth considering; interest only, fixed rate and adjustable rate. Adjustable rate mortgages are usually for short term periods of one to seven years with a fixed interest rate. After this period, the interest rate can go up or down. Fixed rate mortgages offer a fixed interest rate and thus a fixed monthly payment for a much longer period, usually fifteen to thirty years. It is also worth noting both adjustable and fixed rate mortgages can have an interest only payment. The main advantage of interest only mortgages is that you can increase your cash flow by not paying any principal.
Before you close, make sure you get a home inspection and confirm the structural soundness of the property and its current physical condition. Talk to your mortgage banker so as to understand all the costs involved with the closing. These costs usually include title fees, inspection fees, down payments, attorney fees, appraisal fees, and any points you may have purchased to buy down your interest rate.
After getting the mortgage and closing the deal, you can then move into the new home.
Some of the Most Common Home Maintenance Tasks
After purchasing and owning a home, there are plenty of maintenance tasks one has to carry out from time to time. Such tasks are not only important for the well being of the occupants of the home but also important for proper upkeep of the physical structure of the home. Some of these tasks may be monthly, seasonal or even annual. It is important to take note of these important and common home maintenance tasks so as to constantly be on the lookout for the same and ensure that the home is always maintained at tip top condition. These include but are not limited to the following;
First it is important to do some maintenance work on the air conditioning and furnace system. For instance, it is important to change the filter in preparation for the new season, debris and dust can build up inside the air conditioning and furnace systems. One should also check the connections of the furnace and air condition system so as to ensure that they are secure.
Even with semi-annual maintenance, always expect downspout and gutter problems annually. Ice dams are usually the main cause of splits in the downspout seams and leaks in the gutter. Even though you may require the services of a professional to replace downspout splits, you can patch leaks using some gutter caulk.
For those who have storm doors at home, the sweeps at the bottom of the door are bound to be fall of or wear out. Replacing the old sweep is not difficult because all you do is to unscrew where it is held and screw in a new sweep. These sweeps are readily available in leading home improvement stores.
It is also quite inevitable for every homeowner to face some sump pump issues over the year. Most likely the sump pump will abruptly stop working during a rainstorm as the sump pit is filled with rainwater. The long term solution is usually to replace the pump but the short term remedy is to lift the ball-cock or float arm on the pump and engage it so that you can clear water out of the pit.
Another common maintenance task is unclogging of drains; this is a problem many homeowners face on an annual basis. If it is the first time the drain is clogging after a very long time, you can try a commercial solution; these usually include plungers which use water and air pressure to clear drains or chemical drain cleaners that are poured into the drain. If the rain clogs quite frequently then you are better of using an auger to clear the drains.
With constant turning and twisting, doorknobs tend to loosen pretty fast. Most of the times it is the retaining screw which holds the knob to the spindle that becomes loose; this usually calls for some tightening. The back and front door locks may also become sticky, when this happens, you can squirt some graphite into the keyhole; it will slowly flow into the latch cylinder.
Garbage disposers also tend to jam when they get stuck on a stringy food item or on a utensil. When this happens the disposer will stop grinding and will instead buzz or hum. To correct this, shut off the power to the unit then use a flash light to look into the chamber to find what is obstructing the unit. Use tongs, pliers or a wooden spoon to clear the debris then insert a wood broom handle into the disposer; don’t put your hand in the unit. Use as much pressure as possible to turn the rotor in both direction and then try and remove the obstruction using a pair of pliers.
At least once in year, expect the pilot light on your water heater to go out. This usually needs to be relit. The light can go out because of several reasons, the basement may flood, the water heater may just be plain old or there may be there is a draft across the basement floor. Most water heaters will have re-lighting instructions at the front of the heater.
An overflowing toilet is also a common maintenance issue you will come across. Toilets usually overflow when they are clogged and the outlet valve is left open. You first need to stop the flow of water by removing the tank lid. Then get the outlet valve, above it there is a tank ball; push the ball into the opening to stop the flow. You can then remove the clog using an auger or plunger in the bowl of the toilet. The clog should come free but if it doesn’t then you have to call in a professional.
Finally, you need to be constantly on the lookout for leaks. Water can really damage your home because persistent leaks can lead to mildew and mold, rot, carpenter mites and even termites. Keep your eyes open for dark spots inside sink cabinets, check on any drips, stains on ceilings and be wary of toilets that rock and fix them immediately. If you are unable to handle some of the drips just call in a plumber to handle it.