Are you ready to take the plunge and purchase your first home in Reston?
Being a first time home buyer can be daunting, but there are a few things you can do to prepare to take this big step with confidence. Read these tips, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to start house hunting!
1. Know Your Credit Score
Having good credit is of utmost importance in qualifying for a mortgage. Good credit also gives you access to the best mortgages available. Equifax, Experian, and Transunion are the main credit bureaus that keep track of credit scores and you can get free credit reports annually from each bureau. You might also consider signing up for a site like creditkarma.com, which offers free credit scores and reports, and offers tips and suggestions for improving your numbers.
2. Get Your Finances in Order
Before you shoulder the responsibility of home ownership, make sure you’ve got a good handle on your finances. Owning a home is a lot more expensive than renting so you need to be prepared for the added costs involved for things like home repairs, garbage pickup, taxes, and insurance. Pay off your credit cards and other debt, and start saving up for a down payment. There are different down payment amounts for different types of mortgages, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t have the standard 20% of the sale price saved up.
3. How Much Can You Afford?
Speaking of sale prices, it’s a good idea to know how much you can afford to spend on a house before you start looking so you can search for homes in your price range. How do you know how much you can afford? Some experts suggest you shouldn’t spend more than 2 ½ times your annual salary. Others recommend your mortgage, taxes and insurance be between 25% and 30% of your income. You can also check out the Home Affordability Calculator on realtor.com, where you can plug in exact numbers regarding your income to get an idea of the best price range for you.
4. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Seek out mortgage lenders and get pre-approved to save time on the back end of the home buying process. You’ll fill out a lot of paperwork so mortgage lenders can go over your finances with a fine tooth comb. They will determine how much money you can borrow and what size mortgage payment you can realistically afford. This way when you find a home you like, you’ll already know that you are approved.
5. Get a Great Real Estate Agent
A good real estate agent is invaluable to first time home buyers. A real estate agent will help you shop for homes, be able to guide you through the home buying process, and will be able to answer your questions and help you negotiate a good deal.
6. Go House Hunting
Drive around the neighborhoods you like, look at online listings, or tap your real estate agent for suggestions of places that meet your criteria. There are numerous places to look at listings online, including realtor.com and Zillow.com. You can also search Reston properties on our site here.
Nikki Lagouros, Reston’s #1 Selling Agent.