A home is an investment; a rental is not. While renting a home can have its advantages – freedom from most maintenance costs – when you write your rent check, that money is gone forever. When you own a home you are investing in your future by earning equity. Additionally, owning a home qualifies you for tax breaks and gives you a level of freedom you wouldn't otherwise have in a rental. However, owning a home isn't for everyone. It requires a long-term commitment both financially and through regular maintenance. To help understand if you are ready buy a home see the FAQ "How Do You Know if You Are Ready to Buy a Home?"
How do you know if you are ready to buy a home? Below are many of the questions that buyers ask when getting ready to make a home purchase. There are many factors in the buying of real estate, and we hope that the FAQ below will give you a better understanding of the home buying process. If you have another question that needs to be answered that's not listed below, feel free to give us a call or fill out the form on our contact page.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Purchasing a Home Compare with Renting?
Why Should I Use a REALTOR®?
All real estate licensees are not the same. Only those who are members of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) are properly called Realtors. Realtors subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate.
Since buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime, it makes sense to have a professional who knows your market be an advocate for your needs. Here are just a few of the ways Realtors can help you with your home search:
- Realtors can help you understand your buying power by putting you in touch with reputable, qualified lenders who will help you understand the different financing options available to you, and which one makes the most sense for your needs.
- Realtors have many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised on the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all the available properties.
- Realtors assist with the selection process by providing objective information about each property. By keeping current on the trends in the community and understanding the aspects of different neighborhoods Realtors can help you determine if the home's environment is a match for your needs, as well as resale value when you're ready to sell.
- Realtors help you negotiate. There are many factors that go into a real estate transaction negotiation, such as price, financing, terms, date of possession, inspections, and repairs. You will need an advocate working for your best interests to help ensure you get the best deal possible.
- Realtors help manage the due diligence during the evaluation and closing of the property. Realtors often work as a project manager after contract acceptance to ensure you get to the closing table with no hiccups. This includes keeping in constant contact with you, your lender, the title company, home inspectors and any contractors involved in the transaction, to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible.
All of us at Kopf Hunter Haas Realtors® are passionate about what we do and take pride in being REALTORS. We feel we add incredible value to the home buying process and work tirelessly on your behalf to make sure you find a home you are happy with.
What Do I Need to Apply for a Mortgage?
Specific details will vary from lender to lender and depend on factors such as what type of loan you are wanting – FHA, Veteran, Conventional, Investment, Jumbo, etc. However, as a general rule of thumb you can be prepared to sit down with lenders by having the following information ready:
- Pay stubs for past 30 days
- W-2s, or 1099s if you're self-employed, for the past 2 years
- Tax Returns for the past 2 years
- Recent bank statements for the past 60 days
- Documentation of any assets – secondary income, stocks, investment property, etc.
- Itemized list of liabilities – mortgage/rent, credit cards, school loans, auto loans, etc.
- Copy of the Sales Purchase Contract
During the application process your lender will order a credit report. The better your credit, the better the terms of your loan will be. It is best to avoid any large purchases (like a new car) for at least 6 months prior to applying for a mortgage.
Am I Qualified to Buy a Home?
It may be that you feel you are ready to buy a home, but you aren't sure if you're qualified to be approved for a mortgage. If you find yourself in this position, below are a few questions to help you. Lenders will look at a number of factors when determining whether you are a good risk for a loan, so it is important to know where you stand beforehand and be prepared to answer their questions.
- Do you have a steady source of income?
- Have you been employed on a regular basis for the past 2 – 3 years?
- Is your current income reliable?
- Do you have a good record of paying your bills?
- Do you have few long-term debts (ex. Car loans)
- Do you have money saved for a down payment?
- Are you able to pay a mortgage plus additional costs every month?
- Do you have good credit?
If you answered yes to all these questions you most likely won't have any problems getting a loan. We recommend speaking to a lender before starting the physical search of homes.
How Long Does it Take to Find My Home?
The time it takes to find a home varies for each buyer. Several factors come into play such as buyer and seller motivation, listings inventory, and purchasing power. The important factor to keep in mind is that buying a home will most likely be the largest financial decision you make and it should not be taken lightly, so don't rush your decision. Whether you're a first time home buyer, looking for your second or third home, or a seasoned home investor, you should make sure you are comfortable with the home you are buying without feeling pressure to make a decision.
What Does REO Mean?
REO stands for Real Estate Owned, and references property that is owned by a lender – usually a bank or the government. When the foreclosure auction is unsuccessful in selling a home.
How Do You Know If You Are Ready To Buy A Home?
The timing and decision for owning a home is different for everyone. There are both the emotional and financial factors to take into consideration. The financial factors are covered in the FAQ under "Am I Qualified to Buy a Home?" If you are tired of paying rent and want to build equity in your home, want to have the freedom to update or remodel, or think you will be staying in the area long-term then you may be ready to buy a home. Talk with a Realtor to understand all the aspects of home ownership to help gain a clearer picture.
What Should I Look for When Deciding on a Neighborhood?
A very important factor when choosing a community is to choose one that fits your lifestyle. If school districts, public transportation, or access to certain amenities – shopping, restaurants, libraries, museums, parks, etc. – are important factors to you, it is very important to keep this in mind when choosing your neighborhood. If you find a place you like, talk to people who live there to get to know the area. The Internet also provides ample information about different neighborhoods. Cincinnati has 52 distinct neighborhoods to choose from … which puts the odds in your favor that you'll be able to find one that meets your needs.