American Homeowners Association Membership  
American Homeowners Association



Four Steps Toward a Faster Purchase

You want to buy a house all your own. You are tired of renting from someone else. In fact, you have already hit some open houses in neighborhoods of your choice. You are ready to start buying. Wait!

Unless you have an unlimited budget and a lot of clout, there are some steps you should take to make the process a little easier on yourself. Here are four basic steps you should take before you even think about signing on the dotted line.

First Step: How's Your Credit? Most of cringe when we think about our credit rating. We think that what we don't know won't hurt us. Wrong! It can hurt you. It can actually cost you a house of your dreams. It could prevent you from getting a loan in the first place. This is the first place you have to begin. Face your fear.

Bad credit is one of the main reasons people can't get the home they want, or any home. A poor bill-paying record can cut your chances dramatically. Fannie Mae says that credit report blemishes, such as late or missing payments, can stay on your record for up to 10 years. While you can sometimes talk your way out of a bad report with a lender, the best chance for getting a loan is to actually have a good credit rating.

Second Step: Figure Out Your Limit The best way to find out how much you can afford is to get pre-qualified for a loan. You can do this in person with a lender or online. This process is painless. You answer a few questions, plug in a few numbers and you get your limit. The answer is calculated off your income and debt ratio.

Of course, if you really want to get started on the purchase process, it would be better for you to get pre-qualified for a loan. This involves more paperwork and calculations, but it is far more reliable and will speed up the process once you find the house you want. A pre-approval means that you already have a lender that is willing to give you the money you need. This is your real estate hall pass. It can get you to the settlement table the fastest.

Step Three: Get Help Finding the right home for you and your circumstances takes time. Closing on it takes even more time. Hiring professional help can save you time and money in the long run.

Don't forget to include a qualified home inspector on this list of helpers too. A good home inspector can alert you to those invisible problems in a house that can turn a home of your dreams into a money pit. It's better to know this ahead of time than after you have already moved in.

Step Four: Get Informed Your best bet for getting the best deal when buying a home is to learn as much as you can about the process. This site includes several resources specifically for homebuyers. Read as much as you can before you start signing contracts and deals. The more information you have, the better deal you will be able to make. Be an informed buyer.

Source: Based on information from The Washington Post.

Copyright © 2001, AHA, the American Homeowners Association, Stamford, Connecticut, USA All Rights Reserved.