Q: How do I select the right real estate agent?
A: Start by asking family and friends if they can recommend an agent. Compile a list of several agents and talk to each before choosing one. Look for an agent who listens well and understands your needs, and whose judgment you trust. The ideal agent knows the local area well and has resources and contacts to help you in your search. Overall, you want to choose an agent who makes you feel comfortable and can provide all the knowledge and services you need.
Q: How do I know if I’m ready to buy a home?
A: You can start by asking yourself some basic questions. If your answer is yes, you’re probably ready: • Do I have a steady source of income? Have I been employed on a regular basis for the last 2-3years? Is my current income reliable • Do I have a good record of paying my bills? • Do I have few or no outstanding long-term debts, like car payments? • Do I have money saved for a down payment? • Do I have the ability to pay a mortgage plus additional costs every month?
Q: Once I decide to buy a home, how do I begin the process?
A: Start by thinking about your situation. Why do you want to own a home? How much can you afford in a monthly mortgage payment? How much space do you need? After you answer these questions, make a “To Do” list and start doing casual research. Talk to friends and family, drive through neighborhoods, search for new listings on search engines like Yahoo and Google, and look in the “Homes” or “Real Estate” section of the newspaper.
Q: What questions should I ask when I start looking at homes?
A: Many of your questions should focus on potential problems and maintenance issues. Does anything need to be replaced? What things require ongoing maintenance (paint, roof, HVAC, appliances, carpet)? Also, ask about the house and neighborhood, focusing on quality of life issues. Be sure the answers you get from the seller or real estate agent are clear and complete. Ask questions until you understand all the information they’ve given you. Making a list of questions ahead of time will help you organize your thoughts and arrange all of the information you receive.
Q: Are there special mortgages for first time homebuyers?
A: Yes. Lenders now offer several affordable mortgage options, which can help first time homebuyers overcome obstacles that made purchasing a home difficult in the past. Lenders may now be able to help borrowers who don’t have a lot of money saved for the down payment and closing costs, have no or poor credit history, have quite a bit of long-term debt, or have experienced income irregularities.
Q: What’s an escrow account? Do I need one?
A: Established by your lender, an escrow account is a place to set aside a portion of your monthly mortgage payment to cover annual charges for homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance (if applicable), and property taxes. Escrow accounts are a good idea because they assure money will always be available for these payments. If you use an escrow account to pay property tax or homeowner’s insurance, make sure you’re not penalized for late payments—that’s the lender’s responsibility.
Read moreRead Less