Buying a Home

Whether it's a Colonial on an acre lot or Downtown Condo near all the action, research and preparation are the keys.

Escape your parents’ place, ditch that cramped apartment, or flip that fixer-upper for something swankier.

Buying a home can be exciting. You daydream of a haute cuisine-worthy kitchen, or a man cave in the basement, but before you even consider which specific features you want -- a whole lot of research awaits.

First, go online and look at homes for sale in your area. You can use our or any website that carries the Multiple Listing Service. If you see houses you like, great! If not, wait a few days and see if any new listings appear. Now check prices. If they pretty much meet your expectations, perfect! If they make your heart pound and stomach hurt, we’d recommend saving a bit more money and trying again later, revising your must-have list or looking elsewhere for the perfect home.  In real estate you pay a premium for heated living area, so try adjusting your minimum square footage if you can’t find anything in your price range.

The next step: sweat the details. Figure out what your total monthly housing budget might be. Estimate your home price homeowners’ insurance cost and your likely property tax. Plug these estimates into one of the many homebuyers’ calculators on the Web. Will your income let you pay that price? You shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly budget on housing.

Now check your credit rating. If you make bill, loan and credit card payments on time, you should be fine. If not, and your score has dipped below 650 or so, you might have trouble qualifying for a mortgage. This would be a good time to contact a loan officer about options beyond a conventional mortgage or speak with one of our branch representatives about our free credit counseling service.

Still game? Be prepared and knowledgeable about what stands out to lenders, such as your assets, gross income, and recurring bills. You’re ready to shop for a mortgage. Yes, that’s right. It’s best to apply for a mortgage loan preapproval before you settle on a specific house. Knowing exactly what you can afford will help focus your search; and having that preapproval letter in hand will enable you to move quickly once the right house appears. There are plenty of sources for mortgages – credit unions, banks, national lending companies. Coastal makes every effort to offer you the most competitive rates with the lowest possible closing costs, so be sure to speak with one of our loan officers before you decide. 

OK, now you can get serious about touring houses. Pick a real estate agent who has experience in the towns or neighborhoods that interest you. Also, remember, listing agents represent the financial interests of the seller, not the buyer. You can find an experience buyer’s agent at Daymark Realty, which is wholly owned by Coastal and offers members $500 towards their expenses.

Whether you end up in a ranch, split-level, contemporary or Colonial, before you know it you’ll be living the good life in your new home sweet home.

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