Real Estate Blog November 7, 2023

Where to Begin When Buying a Home

The high-mountain peaks, valleys, forests, and streams encapsulating western North Carolina make it a beautiful place to put down roots. Add in historic attractions, great restaurants, and public services, and you have a perfect spot to consider purchasing a home.

For first-time home-buyers, and even those with a bit of experience, taking the first steps toward such a large purchase and life decision can be a daunting process.

First Steps to Take When Buying a Home

Luckily, like anything, if you start with a plan, the process goes much smoother. We have compiled our recommendations for anyone starting the home-buying process.

We aren’t going to put it explicitly in this list, but one recommendation we have is to find a real estate agent or company local to your area. Even if you are still just in the earliest stage of deciding if now is the right time to start the home-buying process, they can help give up-to-date information concerning the market and explain the general process.

With that in mind, let’s get you started on your home-buying journey.

1. Start Saving for the Down Payment

Homes are a big purchase and traditionally, though not always, require a significant down payment. The earlier you have started saving for that initial sum, the better off you will be. If you have difficulty saving, other options exist, such as Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI will increase your monthly costs going forward but helps upfront costs and can get you into a home sooner, while buying prices may be more in your favor.

2. Check Your Credit Score

Purchasing a home almost always includes the need for a mortgage loan, so credit scores are a significant factor in what you will eventually end up owing and how much financial institutions will be willing to provide. As soon as you think that you may be interested in purchasing a home, check your credit score.

The higher your score, the better your loan rates and amounts will be. It will vary by lender and loan type, but most institutions prefer a score of 720 or higher. You should be checking your score at least yearly, but do so before buying a home so you can work on any needed improvements or corrections if something looks off.

3. Look Into Homebuyer Programs

There are thousands of assistant programs throughout the country. Put in a little research for what is available in your area and for your own situation. They all have different requirements and restrictions but can provide help.

Here are a few to look into as you begin your search:

  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans have minimal down payment requirements and lower credit requirements.
  • HomeReady is available to prospective homebuyers below their Area Median Income but with a good credit history.
  • The US Department of Agriculture helps offer loans to lower-income borrowers in rural areas.
  • Conventional 97 Mortgage, backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, helps first-time home buyers provided they complete a homebuyer education course.

4. Find a Lender and Get Pre-Approved

Contact the lenders available in your area and shop around for quotes from each. Once you have settled on the lender that works best for you, it is time to get pre-approval from them. This gives you an exact number of how much home you can afford during your upcoming search.

This pre-approval is often required before any real estate agent begins the search with you. And while it doesn’t 100% guarantee you that mortgage, barring any drastic changes to your financial situation, it is unlikely it will be denied.

Pre-approval generally takes less than a business day, but be prepared to provide documents such as pay statements, tax forms, and bank statements.

5. Make a Wish List

You probably already have this step covered or at least started. But at this point, sit down and give some serious thought to what it is you want in a home. Take your list and prioritize it. Depending on your family and stage of life, any of the following may have greater weight:

  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Location (work commute and school district considerations)
  • Outdoor space
  • Square footage
  • Type of home
  • Layout and interior finishing details.

What you need from the home on your budget and what is nice to have are different considerations. Be prepared to cut some things, and allow yourself the space to fall in love with options you hadn’t considered.

6. Find Your Agent

With your pre-approved budget and wish list in hand, it is time to have a serious sit down with a real estate agent. It can be tempting to try and go it alone, but a good agent can help in the process by:

  • Knowing the local market prices and community benefits
  • Keeping on top of paperwork and due dates
  • Helping you make a competitive offer and negotiate on price adjustments or repairs

Someone who regularly works in the area is always best. Ask around for recommendations if you know people who have recently bought or sold in the area for their honest assessment of the agent used. And if moving into a new area, be sure to research reviews online. Read our article, How to Choose a REALTOR® in Asheville, for more information.

Expert Help Purchasing a Home in Western NC

If you have imagined buying your dream home in Asheville, Arden, or anywhere in the surrounding areas of Buncombe county, contact us today to let our experienced staff help you make it happen.

Century 21 Connected is a locally owned firm focused on providing reliable information on western North Carolina residential and commercial real estate. Our agents love Asheville and the surrounding areas creating a genuine desire to help you find your perfect home.

Our local experts are ready to guide you through the home-buying process. We are committed to fast, professional, and courteous service to help you understand and feel at ease throughout the home-buying process. Our trained and licensed agents specialize in the western NC area real estate market and are prepared to find the right home and get the best price.

At Century 21 Connected, we strive to provide you with a white glove service making the buying or selling process as seamless as possible. We look forward to speaking with you and assisting you in any way possible.