Buying your first home can be an exciting and often overwhelming time. It’s a major decision that requires plenty of thought and planning. Before you fall in love with a house’s perfect kitchen or beautiful curbside appeal, consider these not so obvious factors that play a vital role in happy homeownership.
1. Select a high-quality, experienced realtor.
When you first begin your house hunt, be sure to hire a real estate agent who is respected and generally trusted. Along with your mortgage lender, your realtor is an integral part of successfully finding and closing on your dream house. Choosing the right realtor will save you time, energy, and money in the long run.
2. Investigate your potential neighborhood.
Before you put an offer on the home of your dreams, research the neighborhood. You can get a good feel for the neighborhood by visiting it during different times of the day and week. Stopping by on both weeknights and weekends will give valuable insight into whether is a quiet, calm street or a bustling, vibrant block. If possible, meet your new potential neighbors. You’ll quickly learn if your future neighborhood is a good fit for you before signing on the dotted line.
3. Research the schools that are available for the area you are moving into.
If you will have school-age children while living in your new home, take a close look at the schools that are available to you. Once you’ve identified the public school campuses in your school zone, you can use information made available by the school district and TEA’s school report card to evaluate the quality of the public school options available to you. You can also use a tool like Great Schools to see how both public and private schools measure up in order to better weigh your options.
4.Determine the property taxes for the area you hope to buy in.
Whether you’re moving towns or just to a different neighborhood, don’t forget to factor in your new property taxes. You can find the property tax history for the home you are interested in online at your local county appraisal district’s website. You can also estimate your property taxes using this useful tool.
5. Look at your daily commute.
With each house you tour, consider what your daily commute will look like. How far is the drive and what is traffic like between your potential home and work, grocery stores, your child’s school, your gym, and hospitals? Consider how the location of your home will impact your daily schedule as well as emergency situations.
6. Plan ahead with your life goals in mind.
When choosing a home and the mortgage to best suit your needs, make decisions based on your future goals. Do you plan to live in the home for a decade or more or do you plan to move in the next few years? These plans should play a role in the neighborhood, home, and type and term of mortgage you choose.
7. Budget for the life you expect to have in the future.
It is tempting to purchase a home based on what you can currently afford, but it’s important to choose a home within your future price range. Do you live in an area with a volatile economy? Is your industry prone to booms and busts? In order to have long-term happy homeownership, consider what your future budget looks like in both economic upturns and downturns and look for a home in a price range that fits your budget in both scenarios.
8. Consider job security and tenure at current job.
When purchasing a home, your job tenure is an important factor. Before taking the plunge, evaluate your job security. How long have you been at your current job? Is your company and industry stable or is there economic instability that might put your position at risk? If you’re self-employed, visit with your mortgage lender to identify all the items you will need in your application process.
9. Find a banking partner.
Partner with a bank you hope to have handle your mortgage early on. Developing a relationship with a local bank that has a mortgage division
can help streamline the mortgage lending process. One way to do this is by opening a checking or savings account
. When the time comes to apply for your mortgage loan, talk to your banker and ask for a recommendation for a knowledgeable mortgage loan officer who can guide you through the process.
10. Keep a rainy day fund.
That savings account you established with your banking partner will come in handy once you’ve purchased your new home. Keep a rainy day fund in a savings account so that you are prepared when you need to make emergency repairs or pay your homeowners insurance deductible. From hail storms to slab leaks, any homeowner can tell you that a well-funded savings account can help take the stress out of homeowner. Consider keeping these savings in a high-yield savings account like the AimElite Savings account
to make the most of your funds. Contact your local branch
for current interest rates to see how much you could earn.