How to Buy a House

Financing the house of your dreams doesn't have to be a nightmare.

Buying a house may be the American dream, but it’s not a financial step you should take lightly. Owning your home comes with significant advantages, such as predictable housing expenses, the potential for value appreciation, tax benefits, freedom to make changes to your home, and lower monthly payments, However, financing your dream home can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Get the keys to a new house

SuperMoney will help you get the best deal possible on your home loans. How? We make comparison shopping easy by getting lenders to compete for your business.Instead of completing multiple forms and comparing the terms and rates of endless lenders, fill in a single form and see what rates you qualify for from leading mortgage lenders. When lenders compete for your business, you win!

How to Buy a House: Getting the details right matters

  • A 0.5% interest rate saving on a 30-year mortgage of $300k can save you $30,641 over the life of the loan.
  • Small potatoes compared to the $116,178 you could save if you choose a 15-year mortgage instead.
  • Which means nothing if you can’t afford the additional $787 in monthly payments and you foreclose on your home.
  • Choosing a mortgage with prepayment penalties could cost you thousands of dollars in fees.

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer looking for a mortgage or you’re a seasoned investor, we have tools that can help you find the best deal available.

SuperMoney also helps you leverage your good credit and home value appreciation with mortgage refinancing, home equity lines of credit, and reverse mortgages.

Find out which home loan is best for you.

Buying your first home could be a dream come true. Not just for the pride and security of having your own home, but because home ownership can offer you:

  • Mortgage interest deductions
  • Property tax deductions
  • Solid credit rating
  • Home equity loan options
  • Home appreciation

However, as a first-time homebuyer, you probably have a number of questions about how the process works. Here are five factors you should consider when you’re ready to invest in a home.

Figure Out What You Can Afford

Regardless of the type and size of home you want, you first need to determine how much money you have and want to spend. That means, even though you may be eligible for a $300,000 loan, you must decide if you want to spend that much. You don’t want to be house poor.

Though lenders may vary, the typical guideline for what is considered an “affordable” home price is generally 28% debt-to-income ratio. Keep in mind that in addition to your home loan, you will also need to pay for home insurance and property taxes. Moreover, if your down payment is less than 20%, you may need to have mortgage insurance.

Therefore, for a quick calculation of how much you can afford for a monthly payment, take your annual income and multiply it by .28 then divide by 12. However, keep in mind that most lenders limit your TOTAL debt-to-income ratio (home loan + all other current outstanding debts, such as car, education, and credit cards) to 36%.

Shop Around for the Best Loan for You

Some people may ask, “Which comes first, the loan or the house hunting?” We think one of the smartest moves you can make is to investigate home loans first. By being preapproved you:

  • Establish in advance how much house you can buy, so you’ll stay within budget
  • Demonstrate to the seller that you are a serious homebuyer
  • Avoid the possible future fallout (and embarrassment) of not being able to secure a loan

Before you select a lender, be sure to shop around. A variety of institutions offer home mortgage loans, including savings and loan associations, banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies.

Shop Around for the Right Home

Now that you know how much you can spend and you’ve found the right lender for you, you need to decide what you want in a home. Consider features and amenities that you must have (such as two bathrooms) versus those that would be nice to have (such as a pool).

Additionally, talk to any real estate agent and they will tell you that one of the most important aspects of choosing the right home is location, location, location. While families might want to find a home close to schools, older buyers may want to be closer to shopping.

Don’t forget, as you are making your lists of must-have and nice-to-have, some things such as paint color and carpeting can easily be changed with a little elbow grease.

Make an Offer on a Home 

Before you make an offer on a home, you’ll want to consider these six factors:

  • Current home-selling market
  • Length of time house has been for sale
  • The condition of the home
  • Neighborhood
  • Comps (sale price of “comparable” homes in the area)
  • Seller motivation

One more thing before you can then determine what a reasonable offer for the home might be, have the property appraised to help determine the value.

Your real estate agent should be familiar with the area, the current real estate market, and how to structure an offer. Don’t be afraid to ask for their input.

Wrap Up all the Loose Ends

Once your offer is accepted, it’s time to wrap up all the loose ends. You will need to:

  • Submit a non-refundable deposit (called “earnest money”)
  • Have the home inspected by a professional home inspector (if there are any repairs required, you can renegotiate your offer)
  • Get homeowner’s insurance
  • Arrange for the utilities
  • Have a final walk-through to ensure the condition of the property
  • Obtain a cashier’s check for the down payment and closing costs

On closing day, you’ll sign all the papers (be sure to read them carefully) and turn over the cashier’s check to officially transfer the home to you.