Ten Tips to make the Idaho Home-Buying Experience Easier
1. If you can't stay put, don't move
If you can't commit to remaining in one place for several years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner—even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it's an even worse proposition.
2. Get your credit and finances aligned so you can get a loan
Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct and fix any problems you discover. A mortgage professional can help with this.
3. Buy something you can afford to enjoy
The general rule of thumb is that you should aim for a house that costs about 2½ times your annual salary. Try Build Idaho's free mortgage calculator to get a better estimate on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.
4. Many banking institutions require 20% down. However, there are programs that allow for less
There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a small down payment.
5. Search for homes in a good school district
In most areas, this advice applies even if you don't have school-age children. The reason: When it comes time to sell, you'll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many homebuyers, thus helping to boost property values. The schools in Boise are well-known for their quality of schools, test results, and staff. Check out our Boise-area schools breakdown.
6. Get a professional real estate agent to help
The Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.
7. Mortgage points vs interest rates
When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points—a portion of the interest that you pay at closing—in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time (more than five years) it's usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.
8. Get pre-approved
Getting pre-approved will you save you the grief of looking at houses you can't afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt, and credit history.
9. Do your homework before making an offer
Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you may consider making an offer that's about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.
10. Home inspection
Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But that's just the bank's way of determining whether the house is worth the price you've agreed to pay. Separately, you should hire your own licensed home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.
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