No two transactions are exactly the same in real estate. Buyers who have an idea of how things work will have the upper hand. Working with an agent you can trust is key. After all, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line.
Know the market
In real estate, things can change quickly. Make sure you keep up on what’s happening with mortgage rates as well as home sales and prices in your target neighborhood. You’ll also want to know if any homes are in default – this will shed some light on neighborhood stability, and may also uncover a great real estate deal for you.
Know your neighborhood
You don’t want to end up on the news as a witness to a drive by, so make sure you consider more than price when narrowing down neighborhoods. How are the schools? Great Schools can give you some insight, but asking those who live in the area will give you a better picture. If you don’t know anyone, reaching out to your contacts through social media is a good way to make use of your extended network. You’ll also want info on area crime rates, which your agent should be able to provide.
Know your credit score
Minimum scores needed to qualify for a mortgage vary depending on the type of loan, the lender, the going rates, the amount of money you are putting down. It’s a complicated equation, but your lender can review all your options with you.
Know how much it really costs to buy a house
Down payments are one thing. Have you factored in any upfront fees you are expected to pay? You’ll need earnest money to show the seller good faith, and don’t forget about your closing costs. These will vary depending on your lender and your loan, but closing costs are usually between three and five percent of your loan amount, which can be a hefty and sometimes unexpected output of cash on top of everything else you just paid.