Traditionally, the spring and summer months are the busiest times of the year for the residential real estate market. The warm and sunny spring days are more inviting for house searches and showings, and many families prefer not to disrupt the school year with such a big challenge like moving.
In the last few years, the Metro Atlanta area benefited from more homes on the market, but also more buyers, fierce competition and an increase in prices. If you are in the market for a house this spring, there are a number of steps you can take to gain a clear advantage over other homebuyers.
The first step in the process of purchasing a home should be assessing your buying power. As a simple rule, you can get a very rough estimate of your affordable home price range by multiplying your annual gross income by 2.5. For example, if your annual gross income is $80,000, you may be able to afford a home worth $200,000, this varies depending on current interest rates, your debt and credit history. Lenders recommend that your mortgage payment (principal, interest, taxes and mortgage insurance) be less than 28 percent of your monthly gross income. Another requirement is that all your other monthly debts (credit cards, student loans, alimony, child support, car loans and housing expenses) should be less than 30-40 percent of your monthly gross income.
Enlist the help of a professional, a Realtor becomes in this quest for finding the perfect home your best friend and advisor. Interview several realtors, and select the one that is the most experienced and knowledgeable, somebody who is a great listener, exhibits a great level of optimism and diplomacy, somebody who has a track record of successful sales, and is definitely passionate about their job.
Just knowing how much you can afford, it does not guaranty you a loan, you should talk with a lender, and get pre-qualified and pre-approved. This will give you an advantage on several fronts, you will know exactly how much you can afford, how much the bank is willing to lend you, and it will also show the sellers that you're serious and ready to buy when you are ready to make an offer.
The discussion with your lender will be very informative, and it will also make you figure out how much you will need for a down payment. First-time home buyers typically make a down payment of 3.5 percent on a home purchase. Another important aspect of the home financing is the closing costs, which will often run two to seven percent of the property's purchase price.
Be ready at a moment's notice. The current market conditions do not allow a good house to sit on the market for too long. Your realtor will email you new listings as soon as they're available. If he or she finds something that matches your criteria, you'll want to look at the house as soon as possible and be ready to make an offer QUICKLY.
When looking at houses, look at the potential. There are major factors you won't be able to change like the neighborhood, proximity to work and schools, the basic floor plan of the house and size of the backyard, among other things. If you're put off by paint or carpet color or old linoleum floors, envision what the walls will look like with your color of choice and the floors in a material you prefer.
If you're buying in a seller's market, listen carefully to your Realtor or agent about how much you should offer. If there's competition you may want to offer more than the listing price and you should not try to request things like carpet allowances or a long closing date. If you know sellers may have several offers in front of them, you'll want to make yours the MOST ATRACTIVE.