GET PRE–APPROVED. Your first step is to fill out a loan application and go through the process of securing financing. That way, when you’re ready to seriously evaluate real estate, you’ll know exactly how much home you can afford. And you can prove to a seller that your offer is sincere. Your Realtor can easily recommend you a loan officer. The process can be intimidating but with the guidance of a professional, you will find it much easier to navigate the entire process!
EXPLORE CREATIVE FINANCING OPTIONS. During the home loan pre–approval process, ask about ways to get creative with your financing. Low down payment options, first time buyer programs. HUD incentives as the $100 down payment might help you afford more funding. Down payment grants are also available in some instances and might be worth investigating or discussing with your Realtor. Whatever the case, make sure you thoroughly evaluate the terms for the home loan you decide on.
SELL YOUR EXISTING HOME FIRST. Home inventory is currently low, the prices have been increasing steadily for the last year, and current homeowners experience a faster sale. Although selling your existing home before finding new real estate to buy can be nerve wrecking, the inconvenience will be offset by your ability to make an offer with cash in hand. Contingent purchases are not the best when negotiating to buy a home. Having your financing in order and your bags packed may give you the advantage in a competitive market.
LOOK FOR VACANT REAL ESTATE. Perhaps a seller’s job has transferred him out of the area. Or maybe a family purchased a new home before putting their existing one on the market. In any case, a vacant home could be just the best deal for a savvy home buyer, so have your Realtor look for vacant property in your preferred neighborhoods. And keep in mind, the longer a house stays empty, the greater your negotiating power will be!
FIXER-UPPERS. The HGTV channels have inspired many homeowners to initiate and complete home projects that speak volumes of their ingenuity, talent and determination. If you’re handy with a paintbrush, a toolset and gardening equipment, consider buying real estate in need of cosmetic fixing. Property that lacks curb appeal usually needs minor handiwork, or the yard overhauled could end up being the home of your dreams for a price you can afford.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. It is not a myth, these words are a Realtor’s mantra and they represent the unique factor that will protect your investment in the future. If you want to live in a trendy neighborhood, but can’t afford a high home mortgage, consider buying a dilapidated smaller home on a fabulous lot with great exposure. In time, you’ll probably need to gut the existing home and build from the ground up or contract significant home improvements. But in the end, your property value may skyrocket. And if your carpentry and other construction skills are well–developed, you can save even more and accrue “sweat equity” during your remodel by doing much of the work yourself.
BANK FORECLOSURES. One person’s loss could be your gain if you buy real estate in foreclosure. Although the search for a decent foreclosure may take a while, your Realtor should be able help. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can be an excellent resource for foreclosed properties. Because HUD houses are sold at market value, your best bet will be homes that need cosmetic work or even major repair.
MULTI-FAMILY HOMES. Sometimes, to buy a home on a budget, you need to look beyond convention. Buying a duplex, for example, and using one unit for rent and one as your home, could be a great and steady way to produce income and live almost mortgage free. Discuss this option with your real estate agent and try to keep an open mind about this possibility.
COZY HOMES. Living in the South, surrounded by the fabulous Southern mansions, the temptation is great to go after the “large” homes; however, if you can enjoy life in an older and smaller home in a desirable neighborhood or suburb, this could be your winning ticket to real estate ownership.
THE CHEAPEST HOUSE IN THE BEST NEIGHBORHOOD. You have your heart set on a specific – and more than likely expensive – neighborhood. Maybe it’s the schools that you’re interested in, or perhaps it’s the close proximity to downtown or Lake Lanier. In any case, a budget–savvy buyer will look for the least expensive home for sale in the neighborhood. If you’re not in a hurry, you can even play the waiting game to see what properties come on the market. Your real estate agent can be a real asset in this case by investigating potential sellers, and keeping you updated with the new listings as they become available.