For most first-time homebuyers, a house is the largest purchase they’ve ever made in their life. And while it’s thrilling to think about building your new life in your very own home, it’s also stressful to consider the financial implications. Fortunately, you don’t have to let financial mental health worries take the joy out of looking for the house of your dreams. Here are 3 stress relievers that can help you enjoy the process as much as you’ll enjoy decorating the house once it eventually becomes yours.
Financial stress reliever 1: Creating a buying budget
Scroll through your newsfeed and you’re bound to be hit with headlines about the scarcity of properties and sky-high prices. All that uncertainty can make it stressful to think about house shopping – how much home can you really afford?
Many first-time homebuyers don’t realize that they actually should start their house search by talking with a mortgage professional….yes, even before you start visiting virtual open houses. Your lender can help you determine a realistic budget so you aren’t wasting time (and mental energy) looking at properties you can’t afford.
Second, you can get a head start on taking care of the paperwork, which clears the path for an easier purchase when you’re finally ready. With that pre-approval letter in hand, sellers are likely to give extra consideration to your offer because they know you’re a serious buyer with funding secured, which can make them feel more confident the transaction will close smoothly.
Once you know exactly how much money you can borrow (assuming nothing goes awry with your finances between when you get the pre-approval and when you make the offer), you can start looking at houses that you know fall within your budget.
Financial stress reliever 2: Determining an affordable monthly payment
Even after your lender looks through your finances and determines a ballpark budget for your purchase price, you might be wondering about other associated costs and how you can ensure your monthly payment is affordable. The mortgage process can be confusing, given that the payment is just one part of the financial equation. As you anticipate ongoing expenses, you’ll also need to cover insurance, taxes and sometimes homeowners association dues, in addition to upfront costs related to the mortgage transaction.
Talking through your financial goals with a mortgage professional allows you to choose the mortgage product that’s right for you. In some cases, homebuyers prefer to pay the closing costs and other fees in one lump sum, while others ask to have them divided among future payments.
There are also different ways to structure the loan so that you pay less upfront now, with payments gradually increasing, presumably along with your income. A lender can talk you through the specifics of different types of mortgages, such as fixed-rate or adjustable-rate, and help you understand the pros and cons of each so that your mortgage payment can sit comfortably within your budget and give you a clear picture of the short- and long-term financial implications.
Financial stress reliever 3: Working with someone to guide you through the buying process
Perusing dream properties is exciting…. until it’s not because you’ve become overwhelmed. When you’re house hunting, it’s easy to become conflicted between what you “want” in a house and what you “need,” and the truth is that eventually, most people have to make tradeoffs.
That’s where an experienced real estate agent can prove helpful in guiding you through the decision-making process. They know how to help homebuyers prioritize the elements they’re looking for in a property, offer advice on the benefits of different neighborhoods and provide insight on whether the homes you’re looking at are priced competitively. Then they’ll decipher contracts and negotiate with the sellers on your behalf.
And best of all, this market expertise comes for free when you’re the buyer. That’s because, in most traditional transactions, the seller pays the sales commission for both their agent and yours. So there’s no reason not to engage the assistance of a skilled professional who has your best interests in mind and can help keep the process as stress-free as possible.
As you begin house hunting, the value of experienced professionals will soon become clear as a way to keep your financial mental health clear so you can make wise decisions. For more insight into the home-buying process, register for Valley’s Journey to Homeownership Webinar.