Forget superhuman strength or the power of flight. When it comes to buying a home, you have something infinitely better: a brain equipped with the ability to plan.
Once you start planning, you’ll feel its power coursing through your veins. Planning puts you on the attack, helping you to determine what you want and a path to get it. No longer are you at the mercy of a capricious housing market or confusing lender lingo. As you take steps to plan, you become the superhero in your home-purchasing story. You are the one making things happen and leaping over obstacles that get in your way.
With a little help from us, you can unleash your Inner Planning Superhero. Below you’ll find seven new superpowers that will help you land your dream home.
So let’s dive in, and transform you into a Home-Buying Superhero.
Before you delve into your home-buying journey, it’s good to ask: is this the right time to do it? There’s a variety of factors that come into play. Here are a few to consider:
What kind of home can you invest in with your current income?
Your 5-year plan
Will you want to be in the same place in five years?
Local market conditions
Local markets can vary drastically from national ones. Is this the best time to buy in your desired town or even in your desired state?
National market conditions
What are national reports saying about the housing market?
These are just some of the most overlooked steps when buying a home. Failing to ask, and answer, the big questions up front can lead to lots of unpleasant surprises down the road when you’re in the thick of trying to land a home.
But a little research can go a long way. Taking the time to learn the market and assess your financial options (more on that in the next section) will pay huge dividends in the long term, giving you both direction and peace-of-mind as you set out toward your goal.
It’s a homebuyer’s kryptonite: financial uncertainty. With so many costs and so much new information, it’s natural for questions to lurk in the back of your mind: Can I really afford this? What if we’re paying more than we should? What’s actually feasible?
Making a budget is essential. When the stakes are this high, it isn’t just a spreadsheet full of incomes and expenses. It’s your anchor. It helps you see what’s possible. It guides your search with information. It keeps you grounded with a fundamental understanding of how you’re approaching a life-long investment.
Armed with a detailed and thoughtful budget, you’ll make smarter financial decisions that get
you closer to the home you want, and help you to implement strategies to save for some of the
big costs you’ll encounter, like your down payment. For insights and tips on creating the budget that’s right for you, check out our personal guide on how to shop for a home within your budget.
The person selling your dream house has a secret: they’re seeing other people. In fact, they’re seeing lots of them.
Yes, sellers are often considering lots of buyers and fielding multiple offers. And they may have been burned before, so they’re looking for real commitment.
This is where the power of pre-approval helps you rise to the top.
With home loan pre-approval, your financial institution, or lender, conducts an in-depth review of your finances. They’ll look at everything from credit history to employment history to what you spent last month on avocados.
Why go through this process? Because, if they deem your finances in good enough shape, they’ll issue you a pre-approval letter assuring that you’ll be able to secure a mortgage loan up to a certain amount. And when you show that letter to a seller, they’ll automatically know you’re good for your money. They’ll know you mean business and they’ll be much more interested.
As with most steps in this process, preparation is key. There are plenty of factors to consider before starting the pre-approval process, and you'll want to be sure you're taking stock of all them.
We can’t promise this superpower is going to make you fly, but it might make your approval process fly. As far as real estate goes, that’s pretty good.
Before you engage in a serious conversation about your mortgage, it’s worth giving yourself a quick 101 on the types of mortgages that exist. From Fixed Rate to Adjustable Rate to Balloon Mortgages to why you should avoid paying private mortgage insurance, there’s plenty to learn that will come in handy when you start evaluating the right mortgage for you.
A really good way to combine your newfound mortgage knowledge with your burning personal mortgage questions is to use a mortgage calculator. Get answers to tons of important queries from what loan you can afford to how much you can save in taxes and so much more.
Like Batman’s grappling hook or Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane, the mortgage calculator will get you to higher ground. In this case, you’ll have a much better view of your home-buying costs and how you should proceed.
Equipped with a solid understanding of your mortgage options, you can start your application with confidence. Taking out your first mortgage might sound intimidating, but once you get a step-by-step look at what to expect, you can manage the entire process like a pro.
Okay, we’ll concede: a sidekick isn’t so much a superpower as it is a human being. But, this particular human being happens to be extraordinarily equipped to help you navigate this process.
Sure, you’re fierce and ready for anything. But you may need someone on the inside. Someone who knows the streets and the lingo. Someone who can haggle her way through a complicated mortgage dealing. For your consideration: the realtor or real estate agent.
Be sure to know what to look for when choosing a realtor or real estate agent. Do your homework to make sure you choose your ideal partner in crime.
The idea of submitting an offer on your dream home can seem like a lot to even the most seasoned Planning Superhero. If you’ve never done it before, you’re probably thinking, where do I even start?
Look no further than your local public record database—or better yet, ask your realtor sidekick to do so. This is a great way to source the information you’ll need to submit an offer that makes sense in your market, like average sale price or price per square foot.
Don’t be afraid to start off with your best foot forward, especially if you’re looking to buy a home in a rich seller’s market. Including an earnest money (cash) deposit in your offer can be an especially powerful way to stand out from the crowd.
You’ve made it to the final hurdle of the buying process: closing on your new home. However, it’s not time to pop open the celebratory champagne quite yet.
To make sure you’re not caught by surprise, don’t forget to factor closing costs into your budget when calculating how much house you can afford.
One important yet oft-forgotten thing to remember before you sit down to close: you’re going to need homeowners insurance. Getting homeowners insurance isn’t just a smart move; unless you’re buying your home with cash, it’s probably a necessary one. Mortgage lenders typically require borrowers to provide proof of insurance before closing, so you’ll want to plan accordingly. Just think of it as an Invisible Woman-style force field around your investment.