Ultimate Check List for Buying A First Home

Buying a home can be overwhelming for some people. But if people break it down in to smaller bites and take it one step at a time, it becomes much more manageable.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Make a plan: Decide how long you plan on staying in your home. That will help you decide how large a home you should buy (think about needed room for any kiddos you might have a few years down the road), what neighborhood you might be interested in, and if you even want to buy a home at all.

2. Check your credit: The better your credit is, the more likely you are to get a better interest rate on your loan. You can check your credit score at www.annualcreditreport.com. If your score’s not what you hoped, there are some ways to raise your credit. 

3. Decide how much house you can afford: Our mortgage calculator can help you sort out how much you can spend on a mortgage payment every month after all your debts and other costs are taken care of. 

4. Save for a down payment:  Having a good down payment can help you avoid paying private mortgage insurance–an additional fee every month that will add up. The best way to save for the down payment? Make a budget. 

5. Choose a type of mortgage:  Different types of mortgages fit better with different plans and housing markets. Read about the different mortgage types and choose the one that’s best for you. 

6. Find a lender:  Remember, you don’t have to go with the first lender you talk to. Shop around and find out who is able to give you the best rates on your loan. 

7. Get preapproved:  Once you know which lender you’d like to go with, it’s time to get preapproved. Your preapproval letter will let the seller know you’re serious about buying their home and financially able to do it. 

8. Find a real estate agent: Be sure to interview a couple before you make your decision. If you’re not sure what questions to ask, check out our 5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent. 

9. Choose a neighborhood (or two): Your real estate agent is going to want to know what neighborhoods you’re interested in. That will help her narrow down the homes you look at and suggest other possibilities based on your choices. If you’re new in town, there are a lot of things you can do to choose the perfect location for your new home. 

10. Make an offer:  Once you find the right home, it’s time to put in an offer. Typically, your real estate agent can help you decide a good starting price for negotiations. 

11. Negotiate:  It’s not very often a seller accepts the very first offer you make if it’s under asking price. A good real estate agent will be able to help you negotiate the price and any other add-ons you’re interested in, like a home warranty, or that pool table that fits perfectly in the game room. 

12. Get a home inspection:  Never ever skip the home inspection. It’s your chance to have a professional take a look at all the inner workings of your house and ask the seller to fix anything that’s wrong. The inspection is also an opportunity for you to ask questions and learn how everything in your home works. 

13. Get homeowners insurance:  Before you close on your house, you’ll need to prove you have homeowners insurance. This is another instance where it pays to shop around and get quotes from a few different providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal.  

14. Close on the house: You’re almost there! Closing on the house is when you’ll need to sign all the legal documents and pay your earnest money and other closing costs.  

15. Hire movers: Moving can be almost as stressful as actually buying the house. We spoke with the experts at Two Men and a Truck to find out what it takes to have a successful move. 

16. Throw a party: You did it! Now it’s time to celebrate with a little housewarming party! 

This post was originally published on mortgages.com

Love Craft Breweries, National Parks, and Affordable Housing? Move to New Mexico.

Location is important for anyone buying a house, but it’s especially important for younger home buyers. You’re making a big commitment to that location during a time in your life when you’re not necessarily tied down to a certain career, you don’t have that many family responsibilities, and most of your disposable income is still dedicated hanging out with friends and finding cool things to do on the weekends. For us, the ideal location is somewhere you can get outside, enjoy a drink with friends, and not break the bank on your mortgage.

So, where is this enchanted place? We cut out the guess work for you and rated all the states based on the number of craft breweries, the number of national parks, and the average home price. If you want to hit the trifecta, start looking in New Mexico.

How do the states stack up? Here are the rankings:

When it comes to choosing your first home, these three attributes can make for a great lifestyle. But they can also help you find a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood where you have the potential to increase your property value over the years. Here’s how.

National parks: Supply and demand
It’s a simple case of supply and demand. Unless we shrink our park’s acreage, you’re buying up a finite resource: land. Depending on how close you are to the park, it can also be a safeguard against someone deciding they want to develop a huge mall one block over from your house or to divert a major highway through your backyard.

Ready to get your rates?

See what lenders have to offer.

Craft breweries: A neighborhood vibe
Most craft breweries and brewpubs are relatively small. These businesses have reclaimed old warehouse districts, renovated rundown buildings, and generally popped up in spaces no one else wanted to mess with. But their “pull you up by your bootstraps” attitude means they’re highly dependent on—and involved in—the community. They typically try to make their business a place where you can come with your friends to enjoy a game of trivia, bring out of town guests for a long lunch, or celebrate a happy hour with your coworkers. These aren’t places that encourage drunkness and debauchery. In fact, they usually make an effort to be family friendly by providing games and toys that guests of all ages can enjoy. That means you don’t have to worry about an unsavory neighbor bringing your property values down or making you feel unsafe in your own neighborhood.

Home values: A first-time buyer’s biggest concern
This one’s a no-brainer. It can already be difficult to figure out exactly what you can afford and how to budget for a down payment. That can be much harder if you live somewhere where property values are sky high and owning a home seems out of reach. Finding that cross-section of a good location and a reasonable price is key for any first-time home buyer.

Infographic Methodology
Home value: We looked at each state’s median list price per square foot across a period of one year (07-2016 to 06-2017). We then divided $300,000 by the state’s median to get our final number. The median list prices for North Dakota were only available in five representative counties. To calculate the final number for this state, we found the median for a one year period in each of the five representative counties and then took the median of that spread. We then ranked all the states based on their final number with one being the least expensive place.

National Parks: We used the National Parks Service data to show the raw number of parks, trails, and national historic sites in each state. We then ranked all the states based on the number of National Parks Sites they have with one being the state with the most sites.

Craft breweries: We used data from the Brewers Association to show the number of crafter breweries in each state. After that number by the state’s total population and multiplied the total by 1,000,000 to get craft breweries per 1,000,000 people. We then used that number to rank the states with one being the state with the most craft breweries per capita.

Overall rank: The overall rank is an average of each state’s final rank in each of the three categories.

This post was originally published on https://www.mortgages.com