You want to become a homeowner, but you’re not sure how to go about it. The process can speedily become confusing and overwhelming, even for teachers! With terms like a lender, appraisals, amortization, and escrow being thrown around like confetti, you may find yourself hovering the mouse just above the “add to cart” button on Amazon with a degrading, big yellow book staring you down: “Home Buying for Dummies.”
If you’re hesitating, it’s for a good reason. We are here to help. Here are five simple steps to begin the home buying process.
1. Use A Professional Who Understands A Teacher’s Budget
So many professionals don’t understand what it’s like to live on a teacher’s budget. Homes for Heroes has specialists who will get you connected with the best real estate agent for the job, free of cost. We started Homes for Heroes as a way to thank America’s public servants such as firefighters/EMS, law enforcement, military (active, reserve & veterans), healthcare professionals, and teachers.
You may think it strange that we have put you in the same category as law enforcement officers and military veterans, but we don’t. YOU are the reason our children are growing up with the best education. Your long hours and underpaid wages are appreciated more than you know. You invest your personal life into making America a better place, and you deserve the best.
When you use a Homes for Heroes affiliate to purchase your home, you not only get the best team, but you get a financial reward as well. Some home buyers receive credit for closing costs, and some have the appraisal fees waived. Sign up here to take advantage of this fantastic give-back program.
2. Start Saving for a Downpayment
What many first time buyers don’t think about is that almost all mortgage loans require a downpayment. There are some individualized government grants for first time home buyers, low-income families, as well as programs for veterans that will either pay for the downpayment or roll it into the loan. Your Homes for Heroes affiliate can research to see if you qualify for help. If you do, some assistance programs will contribute a portion or match your payment, but rarely will you be able to purchase a home without some down payment amount.
The thing is, every penny adds up, so start now. You could choose to open a savings account at a bank or credit union separate from where you usually bank. That allows you to transfer a pre-planned amount into it each month without worrying that they might dip into it when the checking account gets tight. It’s easier to forget that you have it if you’re not seeing it all the time.
3. Get Ahead of the Game! Get Pre-Approved
Start learning the terminology when it comes to home buying; it will make this part of the process go much smoother. Online dictionaries are an easy way to start! Once you feel ready, your Homes for Heroes affiliate will help you take the next step toward pre-approval for a home mortgage loan. The lender will estimate an approval amount based on some simple equations like debt to income ratio (another excellent term to know!), job and salary stability, risk factors, and more. You will need a pre-approval before applying for a loan and touring homes.
4. Open Your Mind and Be Flexible
It’s amazing what an open mind will do for you in the buying process! It lowers stress and increases your ability to ride the wave with grace and excellence. You need to assess and reassess your wants vs. needs. You’re a teacher, so maybe an extra room for a library is a must-have! It must include a sliding ladder to reach the highest shelves. For many, an open floor plan is non-negotiable. Whatever it is, write it down.
You will want two lists: essentials and non-essentials. Then, rearrange them and put them in order of importance. It might surprise you how many “essentials” you can live without so you can become a homeowner. Have an open mind, knowing that your home will gain worth with time. Maybe you’re handy with a hammer; you can spend a little time and money to make upgrades to your new home (increasing the market value) and flip it for profit. Everybody starts somewhere.
You may have heard the term “Don’t despise a humble beginning.” Start small; the bigger the house, the more cleaning you’ll have! Not to mention the bills; water, electric, and gas will all cost more per month with each additional square foot. Think about roofing! The bigger the roof, the more you’ll pay. Take some advice from the now-trendy minimalist movement: less is more.
5. Consider Your Neighborhood
If you want to save money, consider how much you want to spend on gas to commute to your workplace. Teaching is your life, and those kids love you. Unless you’re planning on a career change, you’ll want to be looking at homes in your school’s district. Gas adds up quickly and, when you’re not used to a mortgage payment, it’s best to over-budget and under-spend.
You’ll want to find a friendly neighborhood with a low crime rate while considering the cost of the home. Take your own advice and think safety first. Also, you will need to think about the resale value of the neighborhood. You may be getting a slammin’ deal on the purchase of the home because it’s a little shabby and you intend to make improvements. Just make sure the neighborhood isn’t the reason the house is selling for less.
How exhilarating! There’s a lot of things to consider. That’s why we are here. We want this process to be fun for you! We appreciate the work that you do, and Homes for Heroes wants you to be able to work with someone you can trust and move into a home that brings you joy. So sign up for free today and talk to somebody. We are more than excited to help you buy your first home.