Steps for First-time Salem Home Buyers
A simplified guide for painless purchasing of your Salem home.
Congratulations! So you've made the decision to stop renting and purchase a place of your own. The home buying process may initially appear complicated and a bit daunting, but by using the skills of a buyer's real estate agent, searching the internet, and familiarizing yourself with each of the steps involved, your experience can be a smooth and rewarding one.
1. Analyzing your financial situation.
The first thing to do is to learn how much you can afford to pay for your Salem home. Generally speaking, mortgage costs, or PITI (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance), should not exceed 26-28% of your gross monthly income. We offer free tools for calculating these expenses for you. Remember that in addition to income, your credit rating, on-going monthly expenses, amount of the down payment, and the current interest rate must be factored into your financial analysis. Also take into consideration any HOA's (homeowners' association) dues, maintenance costs, and utilities you'll have to pay on a monthly basis. You would be wise to investigate state and federal government programs which help qualifying first-time buyers with down payments and closing costs. Visit U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for specific information which could be quite beneficial to you.
2. Getting prior loan approval.
The next step, before you ever begin actually looking a home, is to secure pre-approval for a loan. In order to do this, you will need to provide a potential lender with all necessary information about your finances. Your realtor will help you do this.
After performing a thorough and positive analysis of your financial situation, the lender will issue you a letter of approval which states the amount for which you qualify. This letter assures buyers that you are guaranteed a sufficient loan and that they are guaranteed a sale with no unpleasant surprises.
3. Determining your needs and desires.
If you are relocating to Salem, you will certainly want to familiarize yourself with the area--in person or via the net. Think about the type of community you'd feel most comfortable in. Older and established? Brand new and shiny? Consider age, style, and size you'd prefer. Would a fixer-upper be a good match for you? Is proximity to good schools important? What about the distance to and from your workplace? Traffic patterns and noise? Ample (and reserved?) parking? Do the community amenities suit your lifestyle? Do you want neighbors nearby?
Make lists for yourself. What are your "must haves"? Where do you want laundry facilities? Is an updated kitchen essential? Do you prefer an open floor plan? Who will maintain a large yard? Prioritize your wants and needs and revise the list when necessary.
As a first-time Salem home buyer, you'll learn that you'll have to make some compromises and that the whole process can be time-consuming--but oh, so exciting! Rely on your real estate agent to advise you about the advantages/disadvantages of specific locations and house styles and help you through the loan approval step. Because of his/her access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), he or she can search, with your wish list in hand, through thousands of listings to find the "ideal" Salem home for you.
Watch this space for more simplified steps.