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Use This 6-Step Checklist to Become a Savvy and Successful Home Buyer

Use This 6-Step Checklist to Become a Savvy and Successful Home Buyer

As purchases go, home buying is one of the most significant you will ever make. It’s also one of the most complicated. With some planning, you can be a savvy and successful buyer.

Here is the 6-step checklist you should be using when buying a home:

1. Know Your Credit Score

Also known as your FICO score. This score matters when it comes to qualifying for a loan. The better your score, the better your financing opportunities. You can check your score for free on Annual Credit Report.com. Before you purchase a home, it’s critical to understand what you can reasonably afford. There are online calculators that can help estimate some numbers for you. It’s particularly important for first-time home buyers to understand the financial side to purchasing a home.

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2. You’ll Need a Down Payment

A common problem some home buyers face is having enough for a down payment, particularly if they’re young or first time home buyers. You will need to put down between 5% and 20% for a house.

The online financial calculator, as well as a reputable mortgage broker, will help you calculate how much you will need for a down payment.

3. Meet With a Mortgage Broker

Early on you should meet with a reputable mortgage broker to be pre-approved for a loan based on your FICO score, savings, and income. Other factors come into qualifying for a loan, and a good mortgage broker can explain these to you so you can begin to plan accordingly. Generally, most lenders believe your mortgage payments should not total more than about 1/3 of your gross income.

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Some banks think it can be closer to 28% including mortgage, insurance and taxes. Always discuss closing costs both with the mortgage broker and later with your real estate agent. Sometimes they are negotiable, but you won’t know unless you ask!

4. Interview Real Estate Agents

It’s always smart to meet with several real estate experts. Ask friends and colleagues for a recommendation.  A good agent will be thorough, ethical, and help you get the best possible purchase price.

Be prepared to have frank conversations with them about your home needs, ideal neighborhoods, schools, and, of course, your price range. It’s important to note that an ethical realtor acts on your behalf, not the seller’s!

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5. Do Your Research!

If you haven’t already done so, do your research on neighborhoods and schools, if this is relevant to your family. There is a lot of information you can research online. These three websites are a good place to start: Zillow.com, Trulia.com, and Realtor.com. All provide detailed information.

6. Order a Home Inspection

When you are buying a home, it’s critical to ensure that it is safe, and there are no hidden surprises once you’ve moved in. A thorough inspection by a reputable and skilled inspector is a must, and in some areas of the country, it is required by some lenders. A qualified inspector can conduct a variety of inspections including a pre-purchase home inspection and others tests such as air-quality and redo testing if needed.

You should always ask to do a walk-through with your home inspector to see exactly what he sees and what he is looking for. This will help give you a better overall picture of the home. You should write down questions about the home and ask him during the walk-through, this infographic breaks down the essentials of what you need to know as a homeowner as far as the mechanical systems as well as the different pertinent shut-off valves in your home. An inspector uses a comprehensive checklist and reviews all of a house’s major systems such as electrical and plumbing. Order your inspection as early as possible in the due-diligence period in case an inspection uncovers any issues and you need to renegotiate your initial offer.

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Conclusion:

These six points underscore the importance of being a well-informed buyer. Just like any contract negotiation, it’s important to understand all of the information before you purchase a home.

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Last Updated on April 3, 2019

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

Debt is never a fun thing to be in. But, there are many actions that you can take that will help you rid yourself of the burden of debt once and for all.

By coming up with a set plan, eliminating your debt can feel much easier than constantly thinking about it.

This post will provide some tips on how you can do this to help you nix your credit card debt in less than 3 years.

Hint: there are ways that are easier than you think.

1. Consider Consolidating Multiple Credit Cards If Possible

This may not be applicable to you, but if you have multiple cards – it is something to consider. Keeping up with multiple bills is time consuming.

It will depend on the balance you have on each. Consolidate ones you can but do not do it to the point that you get too close to the maximum limit. Also, it is ideal to pick the card with the lower interest rate.

Consider if there are any fees or alternatively, rewards, with transferring a balance to another card. Watch out for fees. Note that some cards offer rewards for transferring a balance to them. This is extra cash that can help go towards paying off your debt.

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Having one or two cards can make nixing your debt much simpler than keeping up with the balance of a bunch of cards. Keeping track of paying the minimum towards a bunch of cards is time consuming. Spend the time to consolidate instead to make the overall process simpler going forward.

My tip: Have one main credit card. Have a second one that you use for necessities – such as groceries or gas – that offers rewards for those purchases (a lot of cards do) and set the second one on auto-pay. You should be able to pay off a smaller amount on auto-pay if it is a necessity. If you think you cannot, then you may need to cut down a lot on expenses.

Why do I suggest doing this? Having one thing set to auto-pay is one less thing to think about. One less thing to waste time on. Same idea with consolidating to one main card. Tracking down too many is a hassle.

2. Try to Pay the Full Balance You Spent Each Month at the Very Least

You need to pay off the amount you are spending each month when that bill comes in. This is the amount you spent THAT month.

Do not let the debt keep accruing while you work on paying any unpaid debt that has accrued. It will become a never-ending battle. Try as best as you can to be current on paying for each month’s expenses when that month’s bill comes out.

If this is a strain, consider why. You may need to cut expenses. Or you may need to consider other cards. Or look at where this money is going.

3. Pay Extra When You Can – Every Small Amount Counts

This cannot be emphasized enough. If you are looking at a lot of credit card debt, it can look daunting, but each extra amount that you can put towards the debt will really add up – no matter how small it is.

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It does not just reduce the principal amount that you have left to pay off, but it reduces the amount that is collecting interest. You will always save money with that reduced interest.

4. Create a Plan on How to Pay Extra

Back to the main point, having this plan is giving you one less thing to think about.

This plan should be a plan that works for you. If it does not work for you, your spending habits, and your views on debt, then it will not be an effective plan.

For instance, if a set plan of an extra $50 (or another amount that you know you can afford) works for you, then do that. Set that aside every month and pay that extra amount. Treat it like a bill. Choose an amount that works for you and pay it like clockwork as though it was a bill you had to pay each month.

Little amounts will not nix it entirely, but they will help tackle it and having a set plan can make it less of a chore. Creating a new plan of how much to put towards it each month is an unnecessary added stress.

5. Cut out Costs for Services You Do Not Use

If you are signed up for subscriptions that you do not use because of some free trial or for some other reason, cut it out. Your overall financial position will look better.

In turn, that will make cutting your credit card debt easier. Look at your statements to find these expenses. If you do not use them, you may forget you are paying some unnecessary amount each month. Cutting it out can really add up in savings that you can put towards other needed expenses.

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6. Get Aggressive About It

Consider these points:

Depending on the interest and the level of debt, you may need to give up a few indulgences. For example, instead of ordering delivery or going out to eat, cook at home. Everything adds up.

Other things may be more of a sacrifice. It may be a trip you wanted to go on, or a daily latte habit you’ve picked up. In these instances, consider how important it is to you and if it’s worth the sacrifice. And if it is a costly expense, think whether you can wait to indulge.

Cutting an extravagant expense can really help make a dent in your overall debt. Try not to add to debt when you are trying to pay it off. It will be a never-ending battle. Make it less of a battle with these tips and it will feel easier.

Bottom line: Do what you can to make this process easier for you. Implement steps that do this. It takes time now, but will help overall. Also, keep track of your spending and paying down of your debts. Which is the next point.

7. Reevaluate Your Progress at Set Intervals

Doing a regular check-in can help you see your efforts pay off or maybe indicate that you need to give this a bit more effort. If you check every 3-6 months, it will not feel so much like a chore or feel so daunting.

By doing this, you will be able to better understand your progress and perhaps readjust your plan. Bonus: if you see it pay off, it will feel great to do this check-in. You will get there.

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Finally (and most importantly)…

8. Keep Trying

Do not get discouraged. Pushing it off will make it worse. Just keep trying.

Once your debt becomes lower, each monthly payment will reduce the balance more. Why? You are paying less towards interest. It will be a snowball effect eventually and it will become much easier to manage. Just get to that point. And know once you do, it will feel easier and motivating.

Start Knocking out Your Debt Today

The best way to eliminate debt is to get started right away. Begin by implementing the above steps and watch your debt just melt away. Try out some of the above strategies and see what works best for you. Soon you’ll be on your way to a debt free life.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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