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Once you select a lender, you should speak with a loan officer as quickly as possible. At this point, there is one thing you should know. Pre-qualifying means absolutely nothing. All pre-qualifying does is determine the amount of the loan you could qualify for based on factors such as your credit, salary, etc. It does not guarantee that a lender will actually loan you the money. It’s more important to get PRE-APPROVED. Pre-approval means that your application has been submitted to a lender who is willing to extend you a specific loan amount, pending a property and appraisal. Being pre-approved lets you know that you won’t be denied for a loan, and it also provides you with leverage to negotiate the purchase price of a home with the seller.
Break Down Your Income & Expenses: Credit for this one goes to user GeekLimit on Reddit – one of my favorite personal finance tips! This is an odd little trick that can change the perspective you have about your money, and help you budget better. It’s all about breaking your income and expenses down into daily values, like this: You make $2,500/month = ~$83/day. You pay $800/month for rent = ~$27/day. You pay $200/month for car insurance = ~$7/day. Everything else (food, phone, gas, etc.) comes to $750/month = ~$25/day. That means you’re left with $24/day in spending money. Want to save $1,000 for a nice vacation? You’ll have to save about 42 days worth of your spending money. That means 42 days of not spending a dime. Want to buy a new $10,000 car? That’s about 416 days worth of your spending money. This will help you see how far purchases are going to set you back and affect your spending ability.
This should be a necessity for anyone who is buying real estate. You don’t want to buy a home that has a crack in the foundation or needs a new roof. A home inspection can spot these and other things that are wrong with the house, which gives you far more negotiating power, and it gives you a reasonable idea of what to expect in terms of expenses for the future. What type of storage space does the estate have? Is it a luxury home with plenty of space, or is it going to be a tight squeeze when you move all of your stuff in? This is important as you begin your home search, you want to set proper expectations for how much room you’ll really need.
While you might have your hands full with an overzealous real estate agent, it’s important not to neglect your mortgage homework. Mortgages are often just mailed in, with little attention given to where they are originated. Your real estate agent will have their preferred lender that you “really should consider using because they’re the best,” but you don’t have to use them or even speak to them. I’ll typically say get a quote from them as a courtesy to keep things amicable, and to appease your agent, but also shop around with other banks, credit unions, lenders, and mortgage brokers. At the same time, think about how you want to structure the mortgage, including down payment, loan type (FHA or conventional), and loan program. The 30-year fixed isn’t always a no-brainer, though right now it’s a tough argument to go against it.
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