HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) – If becoming a homeowner is one of your New Year’s resolutions, you may want to listen up.
Everyone has that detailed dream house they hope to get one day. From the yard to the brick, and the amount of space on the inside and out, but what does it take to get those keys in hand to call that perfect house your own?
Driving throughout the Pine Belt, in many neighborhoods, stand ‘For Sale’ signs, keeping realtors busy and first-time buyers anxious, however, most realtors believe searching for a house should not be the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, one Hattiesburg real estate broker said you should first find a realtor to help get the home buying process started.
“A lot of first-time homebuyers get really excited about the search,” said Watkins. “I mean humans I think are inherently hunters, so they want to be about the hunt, but they don’t think about all the things they need to do in order to hunt successfully,” Watkins added.
A lot of calculations and paperwork are just the beginning. Watkins and mortgage lender Samuel Whitehead both agree, above all else, finances come first.
“The main thing when you come in the home buying process, we look at three things,” said Whitehead. We want to make sure your income is there to cover the debt. We want to make sure your credit is there so that you’re not over-extended,” said Watkins. “And most importantly are the credit scores.”
Whitehead said the ideal credit score when buying is a 740. However, you can get by with a 620. Whitehead added the higher the score the better the interest rate. Then, you’ll then enter the qualifying process that will help determine your monthly mortgage rates based on your income.
“So if you made a $1,000 you can afford $250,” said Whitehead. “$2,000 a month, $500. $3,000 a month, $750,” said Whitehead. Those are just examples of mortgage payments based on how much money you bring home each month.
If you don’t qualify for a conventional loan, it’s not the end of the road. Right now, there are three other payment assistant programs available:
The loans are all granted if certain requirements are met, specifically your credit score and income. Although these forms of assistance it s available, Watkins says there are other costs you should be prepared for. Such as your down payment, closing cost, home inspection, but first your earnest money, which is money you put down to show you’re serious about buying the home you’ve chosen.
“The broker has the obligation to deposit that money into their escrow account which is a separate account that’s set up by law and is protected,” said Watkins. “It’s where clients’ funds are held. It’s held there in trust then credited to the buyer’s at closing,” he explained.
Once your lender gets you squared away with the money aspect, the hunt officially begins with your realtor.
Watkins said your realtor should serve as a teacher. Someone to not only walk you through a home but also the questions, followed by the Dos and Don’ts.
“Ask questions,” said Watkins. “Understand what the inspection process is. The appraisal process,” he said. “What kind of contract in the offer is there and what kind of contingencies are there to protect the buyer?”
While soaking in the nice views of homes, Watkins said it’s best not to be sold on just that.
“While license real estate agents and brokers are not licensed contractors, engineers, anything of that sort,” said Watkins. “Often if we are experienced, we’ve been exposed hundreds if not thousands of times to circumstances that we can bring to the attention of the buyer.”
The home buying process is not at all a fast pace process that normally takes anywhere from 30 to 45 days, but Watkins encourages buyers to be patient.
“Most first-time homebuyers aren’t buying their forever home,” said Watkins. “They’re buying their first home. They need it to be a good decision and if they’re with a good agent they can make a good decision. So we can find a good decision, houses are still coming on the market,” he said. “What’s better is we make a wise decision and one that’s informed.”
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