You’ve said your vows, did the first dance, cut the cake, and danced the night away until closing time… now what? Do you go back to your apartment and live married life (or worse, at your parents’ place)? Hopefully not! You’re going to be married so it’s time to plan out where you and your significant other will raise a family even before you say, “I do”. What better preparation is there than to get ready to purchase your first home? Here are some tips to help you get started on the right foot.

  1. Prepare financially – Find out what’s affordable for you. Be prepared to save enough to put down 20% of the purchase price for the best chances of getting your offer accepted. However, there are also programs out there that can help you purchase a home for as little as 3.5% down (FHA loan) or even 0% down (VA loan).
  2. Get your credit in order – Obtain a copy of your credit report. If there are any errors in it, get them fixed ASAP! Otherwise, it could hurt your eligibility of getting approved for a mortgage loan.
  3. Get pre-approved for a loan – Contact a loan officer from your local bank or any lender of your choosing. They will help you pick the type of loan that will fit your needs. Also, nothing says, “pick my offer, not theirs!” better than a pre-approval from a mortgage lender to go along with your offer to purchase. Most homes on the market currently get many competing offers. Getting pre-approved will also let you know approximately how much you can afford. Organize all the documentation that a lender may need. This includes copies of W-2’s, pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, etc.
  4. Be aware of other costs of homeownership – Be sure to keep in mind other costs to owning a home. This includes closing costs, property tax, homeowner’s insurance, maintenance and utilities, HOA fees if any, mortgage insurance if applicable, etc.
  5. Decide how and where you want to live – Make a wish list of your criteria. What’s your style? Is it a hip condo near urban amenities or the lush green lawn with suburban flair? Decide on the must haves for you and your significant other. Think about things such as school districts, safety, proximity to shops and entertainment.
  6. Contact a Realtor® – There is no better resource to help and protect you with purchasing real estate. Find an experienced Realtor® who can help guide you through the process of buying a home. Purchasing a home can get overwhelming so a Realtor® can assist you with the following: refer you to a lender to get pre-approved, send you up-to-date listings, write offers for you, show you homes, negotiate pricing on your behalf, make sure all disclosures and inspections have been completed on time, and so much more! Besides, the Realtor’s commission comes from the seller so it’s completely free to have a buyer’s agent represent you so why not use one?

Purchasing your first home may be frustrating at times. Paperwork may need to be signed quickly. Deadlines need to be met. However, this is something to enjoy. You are shopping for more than just a house. It’s deciding your future for you and your family. Each house has its own charm and will stimulate your imagination and creativity. Good luck!

[author image=”” ]Julee Hua-Concepcion is a Real Estate Broker based in Southern California. She has years of experience and is familiar with the local market and the complicated short sale process.[/author]

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