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How to's and money-saving tips from resident homeowner and mortgage professional, Cathy West

Here are three things to keep in mind before signing on the dotted line.

Tips Every Millennial Homebuyer Should Know


Just because you’re in your twenties, right out of school or just beginning your career doesn’t mean you can’t also get started on the road to buying your first home.

Real estate site Zillow says that millennial home-buyers are more cautious about home-buying than previous generations after seeing the housing market crash in 2008. But there are still many who are ready to put down roots. If you fall into that group of people that want a place of their own, there are a few tips to help you land the starter home of your dreams and your budget.

Take Your Time
Technology has made it possible to have almost everything delivered to us the moment we decide to buy it or just a day or two later. But when it comes to buying a new home – the most expensive single purchase most people will make in their lives — it’s important to take things slow. The internet has made it easy to search for new homes on the market, find a broker and obtain a mortgage, but Zillow advises that this is one process that should never be rushed.

Start slow and learn about the market where you’d like to buy. Use the internet, friends, relatives and colleagues to do all the research you can. Attend some open houses and see what your money can buy in your target neighborhoods. Don’t let stories of of a ‘red hot market’ or competitive bids or a home improvement show rush you into making a hasty decision you could regret for years.

Get Pre-Approved
In a competitive market, you may be only one of multiple offers on one property. If you don’t have a pre-approval letter to go with your offer, real estate site Redfin says there’s almost no chance the seller will accept it. Not going through the pre-approval process can be a signal to buyers that you aren’t serious about buying a home. To obtain pre-approval, lenders will want to see various financial documents depending on the type of loan you decide you want.

Shop by Monthly Budget, Not Price
If you’ve never created a monthly budget, sit down with someone who has or talk to a financial expert who can tell you what to expect when it comes to insurance, maintenance costs and other home related expenses. If you shop by price range, you could put yourself at risk of overspending.

Money expert Dave Ramsey recommends that for a 15-year fixed mortgage, your mortgage payment should be no more than 25 percent of your take-home pay. He also suggests building a little extra into your monthly budget to cover regular maintenance, future home improvements and furniture.

Work with an Experienced Broker
A good real estate professional doesn’t just have the keys to houses on the market. Though you can find hundreds of home listings and open houses on the Internet, Zillow says an experienced agent knows the market like no one else because they’ve been inside hundreds of homes, have relationships with other agents in the area and have done many deals. They know exactly what to do when a red flag arises. Homebuying can be a draining and emotional process and having an experienced resource person guiding them through the process has been extremely helpful.

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