If you’ve been renting a house for a while, you probably are asking yourself if you’re ready to buy a house. Homeownership can seem a bit scary at first, but if you plan ahead, it’s really not that hard to buy your first house. Remember, almost every first-time home buyer in the country is currently a renter. If you’re wondering is renting or buying is better, spend some time and keep reading. Renting is a simple matter of logistics after you move away from your parents but it’s a great practice run for home ownership! Most of us get pretty good at not damaging a rental property, taking care of small repairs and, hopefully, keeping the lawn looking good. But only few people want to rent forever.
When you’re ready to buy your first home and leave the rental life behind you, it may take more effort than you expected to prepare for the home purchase and wrap up your rental affairs. We’ve compiled this list to help you cover all your bases on your way through this exciting transition. Homeownership here you come!
1. Figure Out Your Budget to Buy a House
Start by taking a look at current mortgage rates and calculating what you and your income can afford to pay monthly. This will help you define what your actual budget on your first home will be. If you make somewhere between $30K and $50K a year, your range is likely to be between $100K and $250K but always do your own math before trusting an estimate. Talking to a lender is a great step.
2. Start Saving for a Downpayment
A big down payment makes for a very affordable mortgage and helps both lenders and home sellers have confidence in your ability to follow through with a successful home purchase. So you want your down payment amount to be as big as possible. There are may ways to start saving for a down payment. It’s the little things like making a separate savings account just for downpayment and that will pay off in the long run.
3. Begin Researching Homes
Now that you know your approximate budget and have started thinking financially, make a list of your new home priorities and start the house hunt. Use several sites like Trulia and Realtor.com, not just Zillow, because each will have a slightly different mix of properties as well as many overlaps.
4. Improve Your Credit Score
Getting a mortgage loan approved will rely on your credit score. While there are lenders who will work with lower credit scores, you want it to be as high as possible. Set a goal to have it at least in the 600s and 700s. Raise your score by paying off debts and cycling money responsibly through a credit card by buying groceries and the like on credit, then paying the card in full every month.
5. Start Cleaning
Since you’re ready to leave the rental life, chances are that you won’t be in your current renal home for much longer. Save yourself a scramble and start cleaning up now, and not just your personal belongings. Get your vacuum to the edge of each floor and wipe down the walls and baseboards for a truly polished look. Take Windex to everything and start thinking of yourself as ready to move out. We know this may seem a little crazy since you aren’t moving yet, but trust us! Your move will be much easier if your place is already clean!
6. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Pre-approval for a mortgage means that the lender is ready to extend a line of credit for a purchase in the near future. Make sure that your budget is real and that you can back up your bids by getting a pre-approved loan or a pending approval waiting for you to find the right house.
7. Purge and Pre-Pack
While you’re still on the house hunt or waiting through negotiations, start sorting and packing. Make a big box for stuff you’re going to give away or sell and a huge trash can for stuff that’s not worth selling. Anything you don’t use daily, consider organizing into a cardboard box or plastic tote and slowly sort unused things out of your every-day environment. This way, there will be very little to pack when the time comes and cleaning will be a snap.
8. Do Little Repairs
As your things get tidied into boxes, you’re sure to notice a few small repairs that need doing. Loose handles, paint chips, and scratched floors can be fixed now before your landlord sees them to save your security deposit. If you hung things up with nails, use epoxy and matching paint to repair the holes. Rent a steam cleaner for a day and go over every carpet in the place until the liquid that comes back is clean.
9. Figure Out Your Timing
Now it’s time to decide if you can be out by the end of your lease or if you need to sign a new lease. If you are leaving soon, make sure to let your landlord know several months ahead of time that this will be your last lease so they have time to find a new renter. If you’re leaving in the near future, your landlord may be willing to draft a month to month or 6-month term instead of a full year for your next renting cycle.
10. Check Out Open Houses
Finally, start seeing what’s out there. If you’re moving far, leverage the internet for virtual tours of properties that you are interested in. If you’re staying in the area, get out there! Start touring open houses, spend time in the neighborhoods you’re considering and get a real life feel for the what you’ve been seeing on the internet.
11. Understand Real Estate Commissions
Before you talk to a real estate agent and hire him or her to help you, you will want to understand real estate commissions and how your agent gets paid. For years, real estate agents have been telling buyers that there is no cost to use a buyer’s agent because the seller pays commissions. While the seller does pay commissions, you need to remember who pays the seller? YOU do! The purchase price of the home included BOTH the buyer and seller commissions. So when you buy a home, the price you pay includes the real estate agent fees. In most cases, real estate commissions are about 6% of the purchase price of the home. On a $350,000 home, this is $21,000 that you will pay to real estate agents. Have you explored the alternatives?
That’s what we’re here for! Following this checklist is a quick and easy way to ensure that you will be ready to pick up and leave renting behind for good when you find your perfect home. With your rental clean and most of your things already packed, it should take no more than a few days to start living your new life as a homeowner!
Ready to find your first house?
Trelora Real Estate serves the Colorado Front Range, Atlanta, Charlotte, Charleston, Phoenix, Raleigh, Seattle, St Louis, and Tucson, and our mission is simple: full service real estate for a fraction of the cost. When you hire a traditional agent to help you buy or sell your home, you pay that agent 3-6% of the home’s value.
Through the use of proprietary technology and a top-rated team of specialized agents, prospective home buyers with Trelora pay nothing out of pocket and receive up to $6,000 back at closing.
Mike is the Market Director for Colorado at TRELORA. He is personally responsible for closing over 600 successful real estate transactions and has played a role in closing hundreds more. He started at TRELORA in August of 2016 and began his real estate career in Jacksonville, FL in February of 2011. In his tenure at TRELORA he has been a Buy Manager, Buy Agent, Listing Agent, and Field Agent before accepting his current position as Market Director in January of 2021. Mike has a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship both from the University of Florida. Go Gators!