Buying a home can be an exciting adventure, but it can also be quite a challenge, as well as having the potential to be nothing more than an enormously costly mistake, especially for first-time buyers. Most buyers, then, will benefit from anything that makes the process more understandable and more easily navigable. With that in mind, we offer these 5 tips for homebuyers in Lake County.
1. Pay Down Debt and Build Reserve Fund
First, homebuyers in Lake County need to be able to afford that home they want to buy. And the cost goes far beyond the monthly mortgage payments. It includes as well a bunch of upfront expenses and several ongoing and/or intermittent expenses. So the first step in this journey for Lake County home buyers is to begin paying down debt and building an emergency fund.
Paying down debt will help you get the financing in the amount you need to buy a home. And then you have to be able to cover such costs as:
- Homeowners insurance
- HOA fees
- Property taxes
- Closing costs
Experts suggest that you work toward getting debt-free and that you try to have an emergency fund of at least three months’ worth of expenses.
2. Figure Out How Much Home You Can Afford
A related tip for homebuyers in Lake County is to carefully calculate exactly how much home they can afford. So be wary of falling in love with a home that is actually outside your financial reach.
As we just indicated, in determining affordability, you have to look at much more than just the size of the monthly mortgage payment. Financial pros say that your total monthly cost of homeownership should amount to no more than 25% of your take-home pay each month.
If you’re not familiar with all the costs you need to factor in to determine affordability, talk to your agent. Your local agent will have a good handle on such things as insurance and property tax rates. Call (352) 366-1977 to find out more about this.
3. Get Pre-Approved and Shop in Your Price Range
This next tip involves a very important financial consideration. After paying down debt and saving for the down payment and other expenses and after determining what they can actually afford, homebuyers in Lake County then need to know how much they can actually borrow. Getting pre-approved will do that for you.
In the pre-approval process, your lender will take a close look at your financial information and then give you a pre-approval letter stating how much they are willing to lend you. And if nothing in your financial situation changes, you know what size mortgage loan you can get.
After getting pre-approved, you’re ready to go home shopping – because now you know how much financing you can get and, as a result, will know what price range you can shop in. Getting pre-approved before house hunting will save you a lot of time and effort. You won’t waste your efforts on homes you can’t actually afford.
4. Research the Neighborhood
Homebuyers in Lake County should also keep in mind that they aren’t just buying a home – they are also buying into a neighborhood. So no matter how much you love a particular home, if the neighborhood isn’t a good fit, it will likely be a mistake.
So don’t neglect to research the neighborhood – personality, noise levels, crime rates, local schools, nearby amenities, and so on. Your Lake County real estate agent can be a huge help here. She will know or be able to find out everything you need to know to determine if you really will be happy living in that neighborhood.
5. Hire a Local Agent
As you can see, the common thread running through all our tips for homebuyers in Lake County is the near necessity of having a qualified local real estate agent in your corner. Here are just some of the things a good agent can do for you:
- Help you find listings that meet your criteria
- Gain access to listings that haven’t yet hit the market
- Assist you in viewing homes
- Steer you away from overpriced homes or homes with major problems
- Negotiate the best deal possible
- Tie up all the loose ends for closing.