Many people dream of homeownership and make buying a home a major life milestone. On average, a person’s home is the largest investment they have. When you are ready to realize this goal – whether for the first time or to upgrade or downsize an existing home – keep the following tips and warnings on the top of your mind.
No. 1: Shop for a loan without figuring out how much you can afford
A financial snapshot in the first step in any home purchase. What can you afford? The answer depends on your actual income, credit rating, current monthly expenses, future known monthly expenses, and available down payment. Most people buy a home with cash and bank financing. For an in-depth examination of mortgages see our post titled – Home Mortgages Explained in Four Steps.
No. 2: Believe you know it all
As attractive as the proposition of knowing it all is, keep Aristotle in mind, “All I know, is that I know nothing.” The subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2009 caused a large decline in home prices, mortgage delinquencies, and foreclosures. Many people lost their homes or saw its value disappear overnight. While some real estate markets rebounded, others lagged behind. As a result, many laws, regulations, and practices were implemented to keep the homeowner knowledgeable about buying and maintaining a home. Financial institutions also introduced more scrutiny and requirements just to qualify for a home mortgage. Your responsibility as a potential homeowner is to learn about the home buying programs in your state and applicable laws regarding home ownership. The federal government also has home buying programs.
- The Virginia Housing Development Agency (VHDA) offers free classroom and online courses on homeownership. This course is mandatory for any individuals seeking a VHDA loan.
- The Fair Housing Act protects individuals from discrimination when renting, buying, or seeking financing for the purchase of a home.
- The federal government through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also have programs that assist people buying homes. For information on federal programs, click here.
No. 3: Buy without a test drive
Buying a house without a home inspection is like buying a used car without a test drive. Seek a home inspection from a reputable inspector that can examine your home for problems – including foundation, roofs, mold and termite testing. Home inspections provide information about the condition of your home, how it works, and insight for future maintenance and repair priorities.
No. 4: Go at it alone
Shopping for a home is an emotional experience. You and your family quickly rule out spaces you do not like and get excited about places you do like. Real estate professionals provide context to these emotions and help the homebuyers focus on the big picture. During the home buying process through to settlement, key players include:
- Real Estate Professionals – include brokers or agents that provide information about the home, neighborhood, and home values.
- Real Estate Lawyers – in Virginia only licensed attorneys can provide legal advice in connection with a real estate transaction.
- Mortgage Broker or Lender – individuals or financial institution that obtains financing for a home purchase.
- Title Insurance Agents – authorized to perform settlements but cannot provide legal advice. A settlement is a meeting to pass property from the seller to the buyer.
Trust the experienced Suffolk attorneys at Ferguson, Rawls, and Raines to guide you with sound decisions in your home buying process. Contact Us Today!
If you're considering buying a home in Virginia you'll want to download our free printable whitepaper "Top 9 Tips for Buying a Home in Virginia." You will gain invaluable insight into making your home purchse as smooth as possible.