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The Real Estate Corner
Five steps to owning a home
Thursday, August 18, 2011 • Posted August 18, 2011 10:35 AM

Don’t be intimidated by the homebuying process. If you take your time, keep things realistic, and talk to a Texas Realtor®, you’ll find yourself on the path toward homeownership. Here are six steps to get you there.

Know the score

Find out what’s on your credit report before applying for a loan. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. If you find errors, fix them before contacting a mortgage lender.

For more information about getting a free copy of your credit report, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website, FTC.gov/freereports.

Get pre-approved

Before searching for a new home, meet with a few lenders and check out your options. If you don’t qualify for a loan or don’t like the terms offered, it will help to know where your deficiencies lie so you can work toward qualifying or getting a better deal in the future. If the loan officer reviews your financial position and feels a mortgage loan is likely, ask for a letter of pre-approval.

Contact a Texas Realtor®

Finding a professional who understands your needs and serves your best interests is a vital component of the homebuying process. Alleviating many of the administrative hassles of purchasing a home, a Texas Realtor® can guide you through every stage.

Determine how much you can actually afford

Some lenders may be willing to loan you more than you ever imagined, but please be a responsible borrower. If you borrow more than you can really afford, your means to pay for other living expenses will suffer. Typically, lenders do not like to see your total monthly debts, including your mortgage, exceed a third of your pre-tax income.

Decide what you want

Narrow your home search based on features and amenities that are important to you. Weigh your needs, budget and personal tastes, and keep the home’s purchase and resale value in mind. Here are some things to consider.

• The neighborhood: Evaluate the characteristics of a neighborhood. There are websites that break down statistics about school districts, occupancy rates, and crime rates. Visit mapping sites to identify the proximity of nearby parks, schools and facilities, retail outlets, restaurants and places of employment.

• Type of home: Depending on your needs and your budget, you might consider purchasing a single-family or multi-family home, condominium or co-op.

• Size and configuration: Consider size and layout. Is it right for you and your family? Can the garage hold your automobiles? If the house fits you perfectly today, can it be adapted to fit your life in the future?

• Resale value: Even if you plan to be in the home for a while, it will be for sale again someday.

Knowing the preliminary steps to the homebuying process will help you decide if homeownership is the right move for you. Your Texas Realtor® can be a tremendous asset, helping you understand the details through every phase and managing the details of the transaction.

For more information on the homebuying process, I invite you to visit TexasRealEstate.com.

For your real estate needs, contact RE/MAX Genesis at 830-833-2000.

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