Buying A Lake Wallenpaupack Home? 10 Common Buying Mistakes To Avoid
Are you currently in the market to buy a home in the Lake Wallenpaupack area? If this is your first rodeo as a homebuyer, or if it’s been several years since your last home purchase, knowledge is power. Buying a home comes with many big decisions and it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of possible pitfalls so you can avoid as many mishaps as possible. Here are 10 common home buying mistakes you’ll want to avoid and some expert advice to help you on your journey towards homeownership.
1). Shopping for a home before getting a mortgage pre-approval
House shopping can be exhilarating and it can also be taxing, so it’s no surprise that many people want to get going on it right away. However, shopping for a home before getting pre-approved for a mortgage is not a good idea. Getting pre-approved ensures that you have the financial ability to purchase a home, helps you understand how much home you can afford, and shows sellers that you are serious when making a purchase offer.
There’s no need to tour any Lake Wallenpaupack homes for sale if you don’t know which properties are within your budget. Sellers are also more likely to consider your purchase offer if they know they are dealing with someone who already has a mortgage pre-approval.
2). Getting a rate quote from just one lender
No two lenders are the same and each one may offer different interest rates, closing costs, or other fixed fees. If you don’t shop around, you could miss out on a better deal. By getting quotes from a number of lenders, you’ll be able to choose the one that will save you the most money at the closing table or over the life of the loan. Pick at least three to five lenders and request quotes on the same day to help you compare apples to apples.
According to Freddie Mac, getting a quote from just one additional lender could save you an average of $1,500 over the life of a loan. Get a quote from 5 different lenders and the average savings doubles. Visit lender websites to learn more about the products they offer and read customer reviews to make sure you’ll be in good hands once the loan closes. Find a lender who is a good fit in costs and in service.
3). Not checking your credit reports for accuracy
Mortgage lenders will scrutinize your credit reports when deciding whether to approve a loan and at what interest rate. If your credit report contains errors, you might get quoted an interest rate that’s higher than you deserve. That’s why it pays to make sure your credit report is accurate. You can request a free credit report each year from each of the three main credit bureaus.
Errors on your credit reports can cause your credit scores to be lower than they should be, which can affect your chances of getting a loan or credit card and how much interest you pay. Federal law gives you free access to your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Using the government-mandated AnnualCreditReport.com site is the quickest way, but you can also request them by phone or mail. Disputing any credit report errors and getting those negative items removed can be a quick route to a better score.
4). Buying more home than you can afford
Don’t buy more house than you can reasonably afford. The maximum loan amount on your pre-approval letter doesn’t mean you should look at homes that are priced to match it. The lender may know your income and even your debt-to-income ratio, but that’s all they look at when it comes to monthly expenses. The lender doesn’t know how much you pay for groceries, gas and insurance, healthcare, school tuition or loans, utilities, and other expenses you might have.
Maxing out the loan amount you qualify for means that you are stretching your monthly budget to the limit, you probably need to find a more affordable home. Even if you can make your mortgage payments with all of your other monthly expenses, a higher monthly payment can affect other areas of your life. The more money you borrow, the less you’ll be able to put towards important savings such as your 401(k) or emergency fund.
5). Exhausting your savings
One of the biggest mistakes many first-time homebuyers make is spending all or most of their savings on the down payment and closing costs. Some people scrape all their money together to make the 20 percent down payment so they don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance. This may translate to substantial savings on the monthly mortgage payment, but it’s not worth the risk of living on the edge. Instead, aim to have three to six months of living expenses in an emergency fund, even after you close. Depleting your emergency or retirement savings to make a large down payment is a risk best avoided.
6). Being Unaware of the hidden costs of homeownership
Many first-time homebuyers are unaware of the hidden costs of owning a home because they’ve never owned one before. When moving from an apartment to a home, there can be some additional costs that you may not have been responsible for paying as a renter.
These hidden costs include higher utility bills, new utilities like trash removal and recycling, property taxes, homeowners insurance, outdoor maintenance and equipment, maintenance and repair, tools for home improvement and maintenance, furniture to fill more space, etc. Figure out how much each expense will be, add that amount to your savings goal, and have it saved up before you move in.
7). Believing that you need a 20% down payment to buy a home
There’s still a long-standing myth that you need a 20% downpayment in order to buy a home, but that isn’t actually correct. When you make a bigger down payment on your home purchase, you’ll likely get a better mortgage rate and a lower monthly payment, since you’re not borrowing as much. But that doesn’t mean you should hold off purchasing your first home or upgrading to a new one until you have a 20% down payment.
You can get a conventional loan with as little as 3% down or a loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) with just 3.5% down. There are also 0% down payment programs available if you’re in the military or have a low-to-moderate-income and buying a home in a rural community. Some first-time buyers may qualify for a down payment assistance program through their state or local housing agency.
8). Not being prepared for closing costs
Your down payment isn’t the only upfront cost you’ll have as a homebuyer. With such a big emphasis on the purchase price and the down payment, many people fail to plan for closing costs, which can range from around 3% to 6% of your loan amount. To prepare for closing costs, it helps to know what’s included in this major expense.
Although some of these may not be included in your closing costs, common fees include the appraisal, home inspection, property taxes, title and attorney fees, lender fees, application fee, prepaid interest, loan origination fee, discount points, title search fee, mortgage insurance application fee, upfront mortgage insurance, and lender and owner title insurance. Other costs and specific mortgage fees will depend on where the home you are buying is located and the type of loan you get.
9). Changing jobs or having gaps in income
You need to show a stable work history and consistent income to qualify for a mortgage. Your lender will scrutinize your income and employment history over the last two years to determine whether you have that stability. If you’ve been in between jobs in the past two years, be prepared to explain why. If you are looking to take a new job before closing on your mortgage, be strategic because it can derail your loan approval. Communicate potential job changes to your lender and be prepared to supply any additional documentation that might be requested.
10). Applying for more credit or charging up credit before closing
You want to avoid taking on more debt in the middle of the mortgage lending process. This misstep can quickly derail your loan approval. It’s recommended that borrowers not take on any new debt or apply for a credit card until after closing on their new home. The loan underwriting department at the bank may be checking your credit after you’re approved and before the bank funds your loan.
If you max out your credit card or take out an auto loan before your closing, that debt is factored into your mortgage application. More debt pushes up your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio (the percentage of your gross monthly income used to repay your debt). If your DTI ratio exceeds the maximum ratio for your particular loan program, it may not get approved.
Partner with trusted Lake Wallenpaupack REALTOR® Alicia Kowalik
Whether you are interested in buying a home in Lake Wallenpaupack or it’s time to list your current property, experience matters most in a changing market. Serving the Lake Wallenpaupack area for over a decade, Alicia Kowalik has the kind of knowledge, skills, commitment, and expertise you need when buying or selling a home. With in-depth local knowledge and access to the most up-to-date listings, Alicia is the first to know when new Lake Wallenpaupack area inventory becomes available, ensuring that her buyers have access to the most valuable properties and securing an offer. One of the things Alicia loves most about being a real estate agent is being able to help her clients find the perfect home for their lifestyle needs in the area they want to live in.
If you are looking to sell, your Lake Wallenpaupack property, Alicia will create a comprehensive marketing plan that exposes your home to the public as well as to other real estate agents through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, and so on.
Your listing will appear on all the most popular real estate sites where buyers spend hours a day looking at homes such as Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, REMAX, Redfin, and dozens of others. Your property will also be featured on Alicia’s own highly-trafficked websites. You can be assured that Alicia will get your property sold quickly and for the highest market price. Alicia works extremely hard for her clients.
As your Lake Wallenpaupack real estate agent, she will protect your interests, advocate for you, negotiate on your behalf, and be your trusted guide and advisor every step of the way. If you or someone you know is interested in buying or selling Lake Wallenpaupack real estate, please give Alicia Kowalik a call directly at (570) 470-5076, or you can get in touch with her here.