Preparing for a 2021 Home Purchase

Preparing to finance your purchase

One of the first things you’ll want to think about is the financing for your home purchase. Talk to a real estate professional and ask for an introduction to a mortgage lender, if you don’t already have one in mind.

Talk to your lender about the pre-approval process. When it’s time to begin seriously looking for your new home, you will want to have a pre-approval in place so that you can show sellers that you are serious about any offer you may make and that you are approved for a home mortgage.

In the meantime, you’ll want to check your credit score and your credit report to ensure that there are no mistakes. If your score is less than optimal, explore strategies for raising it in the months ahead. These can include:

  • Paying bills on time
  • Having rent and utility payments added to your credit report
  • Paying down debt and avoiding accruing new debt

In addition, talk to your lender about the types of home mortgage products you qualify for—VA, FHA, and conventional, among others—and the credit score range you’ll need so that you can be approved for each.

Determining your price range

By working with your lender you’ll be able to come up with a ballpark price range for your home search. This will be important as it will help you to narrow down the neighborhoods, home types, and home sizes you should be considering.

Remember, just because you qualify for a certain amount, you don’t have to shop at the top of your budget. Consider your lifestyle, other debt, future plans, and disposable income needs when determining your home purchasing power.


Comparing potential markets for your search

This is a good time to begin looking at markets where you might be inclined to move. Talk to your real estate agent to find out what features you’ll find in the areas you’re considering. Determine what you are looking for so that you can narrow down your search. Do you care more about:

  • Recreational opportunities?
  • Children’s programming?
  • Dining and nightlife?
  • Convenient shopping and services?
  • Commute times?
  • Larger lot sizes?
  • Larger homes?
  • Resale potential?

If possible, spend some time in your potential neighborhoods. Shop at the stores, eat in a local restaurant, and visit a nearby attraction. Check out the people to see if they seem like good future neighbors for you and your family.

Comparing potential home styles and features

Spend some time looking over listings to determine what home styles and features are most important to you. Put together a wish list and prioritize with must-have, nice-to-have, and optional items. Determine how different updates, upgrades, and other features impact price. Consider what you might be willing to add or change after the purchase and what you’ll want to have completed before you move in.

Preparing for associated expenses

Buying a home brings with it a large number of expenses before, during, and after the purchase process. It’s important for you to have an idea of these ahead of time so you can ensure that your savings are adequate. Remember, you won’t be able to run up additional debt while your mortgage is in underwriting, so it’s important to have a budget in mind before you begin.

Expenses for your home purchase may include any or all of the following:

  • Earnest Money Deposit (EMD): 1–5% of the purchase price
  • Down Payment: Generally 3–20% of the purchase price
  • Closing Costs: Variable (discuss with a real estate professional or lender)
  • Moving Costs: Variable
  • New furniture and design elements
  • Needed repairs and improvements

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