What You Need to Accomplish Before Buying a Home in 2021
By Ryan Taaffe, REALTOR® | Keller Williams Realty
Buying a home in the new year might seem more daunting than your other resolutions, but it’s plenty achievable with a plan in place. No matter how soon you’d like to move, it’s helpful to get a head start familiarizing yourself with the market and the homebuying process. Take a look at the following checklist to see whether you’re ready to start your search.
Determine how much you can afford – up front and each month.
The first step for many buyers is to create a budget. Take a look at your monthly household income and other expenses, and see what amount you might comfortably put toward a mortgage payment. If you currently rent, you may be able to keep your monthly payments the same – or even lower them. Keep in mind that the sale price of your new home will not be your only expense. You’ll need to factor in the interest on your mortgage, property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, and any other fees you expect to incur (such as condo or HOA dues).
Next, talk to a mortgage lender to get pre-qualified. You can find countless options online, but if you’d like a recommendation or you want to be put in touch with a local lender, just let me know. At this stage, they simply take a look at your finances and provide a rough estimate of how much they might lend you and what your maximum monthly payment would be. You can find out what interest rate they might offer and what fees they charge without paying for or committing to anything.
Along with your monthly payments, you’ll want to know how much you can afford to pay up front. This is another important piece of the financial puzzle. Many buyers make a down payment of 20 percent, but you definitely can put down less (or more). A lower down payment means higher mortgage payments each month; the opposite is also true. Think about what works best for you given your financial situation and your moving timeline.
Start thinking about where you want to live.
Before touring any homes, you’ll want to have some idea of your preferred location. You don’t need an exact neighborhood, but if you’re looking at too many different areas, it’ll be hard to keep everything straight.
You also will want to narrow down the types of homes you’re interested in buying. Do you want a condo, a townhouse, or a single-family home? How many bedrooms would you like? Are you looking for a yard, a balcony, or no outdoor space at all? The characteristics of your future home go hand in hand with its location as both will impact the price. Homes tend to cost less as you get further from the city; for example, the same amount of money may get you a condo in D.C., a townhouse in Arlington, or a single-family home in Fairfax. There are lots of factors to consider, so start thinking about what might be the best fit for you.
Talk to a knowledgeable real estate agent – for free!
Even if you’re familiar with the neighborhood, it’s crucial to find a REALTOR® who knows the market. Good news: as a buyer, you don’t have to pay your agent anything! Some agents charge a retainer fee or a transaction fee, but I do not. My goal is to help you find the best possible home, get your offer accepted, and walk you through all the steps leading up to closing. When you successfully close on your new home, the seller will pay the commission for both agents. You get to celebrate and move in!
If you plan to buy or sell a home outside of the D.C. area, let me know where you’re headed! My company, Keller Williams, is one of the largest real estate companies in the world with agents in every state and in many other countries. Through our online portal, I can identify the most experienced KW agents in the area, and I would be more than happy to put you in touch.
Congratulations – you’re ready to start house hunting!
There's a lot left to do before hiring movers and popping champagne, but I would be thrilled to walk you through every step. If you have any questions or you're ready to begin, please don't hesitate to reach out. Contact Ryan Taaffe, a licensed REALTOR® in Virginia and DC.
Ryan Taaffe, REALTOR® | Keller Williams Realty