Since the coronavirus and COVID-19 have come on the scene, the real estate landscape has changed for many home buyers, particularly for people who want to buy a house this fall. Still, much remains the same – it’s just that some emphases have shifted. So what should you do to get ready for that fall home purchase? Well, let’s take a look at 6 things to do right now to prepare you to buy a house this fall.
1. Understand the Changes
The first thing you probably should do in preparing to buy a house this fall is to gain an understanding of the changes in house buying wrought by COVID-19. Major changes to the home-buying landscape include:
- Rising credit-score requirements
- Increasing the minimum down payment requirements
- Slowing (or stalling) of granting mortgages among some lenders
- “[G]rowing numbers of sellers taking their homes off the market”
- Increasingly more buyers postponing buying a house
These changes mean both advantages and disadvantages for home buyers. Contact your local agent to find out more about what’s going on in your area. (Just call (609) 436-5221.)
2. Check and Work on Your Credit Score
As we just mentioned, credit-score requirements are going up for many buyers. So one of the first things you should do right now to prepare you to buy a [marekt_city] house this fall is to check your credit score. Doing this now will give you time to improve your score before fall (if it is lower than it needs to be).
Not only will a better credit score increase your chances of getting a mortgage, but it can also get you better rates and better terms. “[D]ifferent credit score ranges impact your interest rate, monthly payments and total interest.”
3. Set Up a House-Buying Budget
You also need to work toward making buying a house this fall affordable. And, most often, that means first determining what you can actually afford and then setting up a house-buying budget. Such budgeting is even more important now that economic uncertainty colors everything.
Just be aware that the purchase price/mortgage payments is far from the only thing you’ll need to budget for. The costs of buying and owning a home are many more, for example:
- Homeowners insurance
- Property taxes
- Private mortgage insurance
- HOA fees
- Maintenance costs
Also, be sure to include in your budget the cost for unexpected emergencies and repairs.
4. Save Up for the Downpayment
For many people who want to buy a house this fall, the large down payment – which will now likely be larger – is the highest hurdle. So now is the time to begin saving for it.
Paying more down will lower your costs – the amount you have to finance will be less, and you’ll pay much less in interest over the long haul. In addition, paying at least 20% down means that you won’t have to pay for private mortgage insurance.
5. Go Mortgage Shopping and Get Pre-approved
With lending standards tightening, it’s more important than ever to do some mortgage shopping. Do it now to prepare to buy a house this fall. Mortgage shopping will allow you to find a lender and mortgage that best meet your needs and your unique circumstances.
It’s also important to get pre-approved before your fall house hunting. “Getting preapproved for a mortgage is helpful when you make an offer on a house, and it gives you a firmer handle on how much you can afford.”
6. Find a Good Local Real Estate Agent
Maybe the smartest thing you can do to prepare to buy a house this fall in Princeton is to find an experienced local agent now. “An experienced real estate agent,” experts say, “can save you time and money by helping you find your dream home and negotiate with the seller on your behalf.”
But make sure your agent has knowledge of and experience with the local market where you’re wanting to buy a house. Here’s why: “Someone with knowledge of an area can also tell if your budget is realistic or not, depending on the features you desire in a home . . . They can also point you to adjacent areas in your desired neighborhood or other types of considerations to help you find a house.” In addition, your agent can hook you up with the many other qualified professionals you’ll need, for example, inspectors, appraisers, contractors, and title companies.
So if you plan to buy a house this fall (in Princeton or anywhere else), make sure you begin now looking for a good local real estate agent. You need to be prepared for what lies ahead this fall in the changing real estate landscape. About the only thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that you need a good agent in your corner.