I found, bought, and moved into a house inless than two months. Here’s how I did itby Kenneth Boshell
you want to buy a home? Learn from mymistakes and the occasional decent decision as I lead you down the path to buying a home with the help of your iPhone.
My wife and I were married three months
Get Your Finances in Order
before we received a financial windfall and felt an urge to
settle down into a home. It took us two months to find, buy,
and move into an adorable little home in a cute neighborhood
of my home city. We experienced a lot of frustration as we
navigated buying a home for the first time, but we made it
through everything, including an Ikea trip after we moved in!
Before you get into thehome-buying game, makesure you’re able to providea down payment. For first-time home buyers, this canbe as little as 3 percent ofthe value of a home. Forsecond home purchasesand beyond, you’ll need alot more money for a downpayment. You’ll also need agood faith payment (a.k.a.earnest money) of at leastone thousand dollars toshow you’re serious aboutbuying a particular piece ofproperty. The amount of thispayment will vary, and youget it back if for any reasonyou or the seller backs outof the transaction.
To get your finances in check, you can use a budget app likemy personal favorite You Need a Budget ($7/month), Mint(free), or financial guru Dave Ramsey’s app EveryDollar (free,$9.99/month for Plus). Following Ramsey’s methods got metotally out of debt in under six months. Then, save up for thatdown payment and ensure your finances are ready for a thorough review by your bank.
Is your credit score not the best? That’s okay. There are a
Find a Real Estate Agent
number of apps out there to help you raise your credit score,
including CreditKarma (free) and Lending Tree (free). Of
course, the most important way to raise your credit is to get
out of debt and stay out of debt, and the budget apps men-
tioned above can help you do that.
The first and most important thing, especially if you’re newto home buying, is to find a real estate agent. An agent canhelp guide you through the process, giving you peace of mind.Their services are free of charge unless you actually purchasea home, at which time they take a percentage of the homeprice as a commission (usually 6 percent), which comes fromthe proceeds of the home sale.
How do you find a good agent? Simple! Ask around. Askfriends and family or even post on Facebook groups. You’reguaranteed to find several recommendations just by asking.
Get a Preapproval Letter
The second thing you’ll need to do is to get a preapprovalletter from your chosen mortgage lender. What this preapproval letter does is provide the sellers with a more solid guarantee of financial backing, so that they don’t go through theprocess of selling their home to a buyer who can’t come upwith the money.
The easiest way I’ve found is to go to Lending Tree (free)and fill out your information. You’ll receive a number of offersbased on the information you’ve given. Don’t fret about yourchoices here, just be upfront about what you can afford, andthen later on in the process you’ll come back to your lenderand can adjust numbers up or down.
Others have found Notes (preinstalled) or Simplenote(free) to be of tremendous help in this process. With thoseapps, you can scan, fill out, sign, and even fax documentsto your lender during this somewhat extensive process. Thisall depends on your lender though; some have specialty programs or secured documents that do not work with thoseapps.
Find a Home
If you’re doing the house hunt by yourself, you’ve got threeapps on your side for total coverage of your intended searcharea: Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com (all free). You would alsobe surprised at how many great homes you can find listed onFacebook, but those are normally listed by owner.