Source: Valley Roadrunner

Think you're ready to buy your first home? Here's where you should start.

by Jeana Boulos

October 28, 2013

When it comes to buying your first home, the uncertainty of whether you are qualified or what you should do first can often be overwhelming. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, however, homeownership is becoming possible for more Americans each year. HUD states that in 2000 homeownership in the US reached 67.7%, the highest rate yet. Here are three things you should keep in mind when starting the search for your first home.

1. How do I know if I'm ready to buy a home? Take a look back on your financial history and evaluate a few key concerns. Check to see if you have had a steady source of reliable income and have been employed on a regular basis for the last 2-3 years. See if you have a good record of paying your bills and if you have any outstanding long-term debts. These will all be deciding factors in the type and amount of loan you can be approved for. Make sure you have enough money saved for a down payment and any additional costs that incur. With all these concerns in mind, calculate what you would be able to afford in a monthly mortgage payment.

2. Where should I be looking for a home? Every situation is unique. You may be looking for a home near a new job, trying to move closer to family or moving closer to a better school system. Think about the amount of space you need. Are you just starting a family? Simply looking to move out on your own? The amount of space will distinguish whether a studio space will work great for you or a bigger, more private layout like a 2 bedroom house will fit you better. Once you have the kind of space you want in mind, think about the kind of neighborhood or which part of town you'd like to move to best. A great way to find this out is to talk to your family and friends as well as making a To Do list of what amenities or community places you'd like to live near.

3. What should I be looking for in a home? The best way to figure this out is to make a wish list with everything you can think of that you would like in a new home. From that list, decide on the top 5 things that are a big "must-have" for you and set them aside. Take a look at these 5 "must-haves" and organize them so that they are listed from most important first. Keep in mind that you may have to compromise on a few things to find a home that best fits your circumstances. For example, would you prefer a house with a great open floor plan or would you rather it included an attached master bathroom? With these 5 "must-haves" you now have a list of essentials needed in your new home.

From here, look for a great mortgage lender and real estate professional that can help you with the next steps in the home buying process and get you settled into your new home. Happy House Hunting!

Jeana Boulos is a local real estate professional living in Valley Center.