In 2014, millennials made up the largest percentage of homebuyers, accounting for 32 percent of all home purchases. As the younger generation enters homeownership, it should come as no surprise that 33 percent of homebuyers in 2014 were first-time buyers.
If you’re considering buying your first home, you will be faced with a number of unfamiliar decisions. Here, we address the 10 most common questions homebuyers ask real estate agents.
I’m Ready to Buy a Home. What’s the First Step?
While attending open houses is much more exciting than filling out paperwork, the first step a homebuyer should take is getting pre-approved for a loan. This helps you determine how much house you can afford and set a firm budget. Sellers are also more inclined to take you seriously and consider your offer if they know the home is within your pre-approved limit.
How Does My Credit Score Impact My Home Loan?
When determining how much home you can afford and whether you are eligible for a home loan, a lender will look at your credit score. Typically, you need a score of 580 or higher to qualify, but it is recommended to have a 620 or higher. The higher your credit score, the better lending terms you may be eligible for.
How Many Homes Should I View?
There is no right or wrong number of homes you should view before making an offer. Some people find their dream home on day one while others house hunt for months. View as many as it takes to find the home that fits your needs.
How Do I Search for a Home?
Start by viewing MLS listings on a real estate database, such as Homes.com. Narrow down the results by searching for homes within your price range and with the desired number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Your real estate agent can also research homes and make recommendations based on your criteria.
How Safe is the Neighborhood?
No one wants to live in a dangerous city, but your real estate agent can’t help you with this question. Due to the Fair Housing Act, a real estate agent cannot answer questions regarding crime statistics. Before starting your house hunt, research crime data for the cities and neighborhoods you are considering.
How Much Do Real Estate Agents Charge?
Typically, you aren’t paying a real estate agent to help you find your dream home. A home seller pays their real estate agent a percentage of the home sale price, and that agent pays the buyer’s real estate agent for bringing in the buyer. A standard commission is 6 percent of the transaction, which is split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.
What Home Service Companies Are Available?
As Internet providers and home service companies vary by location, it is important to know what options are available and how to compare and save money on cable, satellite, or Internet services in your new area. Your real estate agent can also help you research your options.
What Should My Down Payment Be?
While it depends on the type of loan, most mortgage lenders require at least a 3-percent down payment, and FHA loans require a minimum of 3.5-percent down. The percentage you are required to put down will depend on your credit history, the type of property, and several other factors. In 2014, the average down payment was 14 percent.
How Long Does the Home-Buying Process Take?
The process varies significantly and depends on the state in which you are buying and the type of property you are purchasing. Once the seller has accepted your offer, it takes an average of 36 days to close. FHA and VA loans can take a few additional days, and short sales are notoriously slow, taking an average of 90 to 120 days to close.
How Will My Home Purchase Affect My Taxes?
There are a number of tax benefits to buying a home, but filing your taxes can be a lengthy process if you aren’t used to itemizing. You can deduct your mortgage interest payments, as well as property taxes, points paid at closing, interest on home equity loans, lines of credit, and other items. A tax professional can help you decide what to itemize.
Buying a home for the first time can be overwhelming. Working with an experienced real estate agent can help you navigate the world of real estate and address your questions.