4 Resolutions If You Want to Buy a Home in 2016
Is 2016 the year you’ll buy a home? Before you start looking at houses in Philly, make sure you have all of your ducks in a row. Making (and keeping) a few resolutions will help you get on the path to homeownership before the year is up.
It’s a new year, and you’re another step closer to becoming a homeowner. If one of your resolutions for 2016 is to buy a house in Philadelphia, there’s a lot to do before you reach out to a real estate agent and officially begin the search. It’s easier to keep your resolution to buy a house if you break things down into steps. Resolve to do these four things and you will be well on your way to a new Philly home by the end of the year.
Get a Handle on Your Credit
Unless you plan on paying for your new home with cash, your credit history and score will have a big impact on the amount of house you can buy and the quality of mortgage you qualify for. The better your score and history, the better your mortgage interest rate and terms.
Checking your reports let you see if there are any errors or problems, which you’ll need to correct before moving forward with the home buying process. Getting your score gives you an idea of where you stand. If your score’s not that great, such as lower than 700, one of your resolutions can be to improve your credit throughout the year. You can do that by reducing your debts, paying on time, and keeping old accounts open.
Understand Your Mortgage Options
Resolving to understand the differences between mortgages and which mortgage type best suits you is another important step to take before becoming a home owner. There’s often an assumption that you need to qualify for a conventional mortgage, with 20 percent down, before you can purchase a home. While the conventional mortgage route might work for some people, there are plenty of other options out there, such as the FHA program, which lets you make a lower down payment in exchange for paying private mortgage insurance each month. If you’re a veteran, you might qualify for a VA sponsored mortgage, which has an even lower down payment requirement.
Set a Price and Research Homes in the Area
The next step is to learn more about homes for sale in Philadelphia. Think of areas you’d like to live in, such as West Philadelphia, Pennsport, or Kensington, then research the average cost of a house in those neighborhoods. You’ll also want to figure out what you can afford to purchase, based on your monthly income and other financial commitments.
Typically, the amount of your mortgage each month can’t exceed 43 percent of your income. If you’re unsure what your number is, you can use a mortgage calculator to figure out how much you can comfortably afford each month.
You’ll need to have a number of documents handy if you plan on buying a home in 2016. Resolve to get those documents in order before you visit a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage and before you start looking for real estate agents to work with. You’ll want to have the last two years of income tax returns handy, your credit card and bank statements, copies of your most recent pay stubs or other proof of income, your W-2’s or 1099s, and any other document that shows how much you earn or spend monthly.
Once you’ve learned about your options, explored the cost of homeownership in your preferred neighborhood, and gotten your documents in order, it’s time to start looking. Keeping your home buying resolutions will help you be in a new place by December.