10 Tips For New Home Buyers in New Jersey
You already know that buying your first home is a major life decision that’s both exciting and a little frightening. Ideally, you’ve got people around you, including family, friends and mentors who can help guide you through the process. Although there are many decisions to be made when buying a new home, here are 10 tips that will get you started on the right track as you begin your journey.
- Pay Off All Debt
Debt is your #1 enemy when buying a home, so paying off any lingering debts first and foremost is a priority. In addition, new homeowners should begin building up an emergency fund of at least six months of expenses to help cover an ongoing list of costs that come along with home ownership. No debts, savings, and achieving an ideal minimum credit score of 740 for the best rates are all vital in the year before starting your home search.
- Determine How Much House You Can Afford
Determining how much home you can afford can be a little complicated, but the rule of thumb is that the total monthly costs should not exceed 25% of your monthly income. There are
helpful online calculators that can help you make these determinations.
- Save Up a Down Payment
You’ll need to start early in saving cash for a down payment – in possible, at least 20% of your home’s purchase price.
- Get Preapproved for a Loan
Once you’ve got these 3 aspects in line, you can turn your attention to how you’ll deal with the home loan by talking to a mortgage lender. You’ll know where you stand if you get preapproval before you start your home search. Even if you don’t have 20% or more saved up for a down payment, there are first-time home buyer programs available that you can look into. However, low or no down payment mortgage
options like ARMs, FHAs and VA Loans may cost a little more in the long run.
- Attend Open Houses & Think Long Term
If you’re a first-time buyer in New Jersey, start looking at a variety of homes that are for sale—even if they’re not a perfect fit for you, this is a great way to familiarize yourself with your area and real estate market.
- Research Neighborhoods for Best Fit
When you have any home that you’re considering, research the neighborhood schools (whether you have kids or not), crime rates, commute times, and traffic conditions etc. Don’t make your home buying decision based on your property alone – be sure to factor the quality of your neighborhood into your buying decision. Your real estate agent can provide information on quality of schools in the area and crime rates in your prospective neighborhoods. Be sure to calculate commute times to ensure they’re manageable. Check out the neighborhood at different times during the day and night to observe traffic conditions, noise levels and if you feel comfortable spending time outdoors. Only choose a location that you and your family feel good about.
7. Use Several Methods for Finding a Home in Your Price Range
Although you should have a realtor who you trust guiding you, don’t just rely on their efforts. Many home buyers today begin their search online. If you find good home prospects, you can pass them along to your realtor to broaden the search and make it more specific to your desires.
8. Make a “Must Have” Check List For Your Home
A checklist of home needs is a better guide than emotions in your search, so be sure to compile a list of your essential requirements to verify against each home and solidify your needs and wants.
9. Look at ALL Expenses When Budgeting for the House
Principal, interest, taxes and insurance are just the beginning of monthly expenses. Be sure to factor in utilities, commuting costs and upgrade estimates too.
10. Think Long-Term & Think Re-Sale
Most first-time homebuyers aren’t looking for their forever home, so keep resale in mind and have an idea of how long you will likely stay. This can be determined by having children, family members that you may be taking care of, and other factors. How long you stay and the general profile of the type of buyer that you will be targeting for resale will influence your own buying decision.