Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.
Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.
Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.
Start saving. Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.
Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.
Determine your mortgage qualifications. How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.
Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.
Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.
Calculate the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.
Austin Blair has worked with LAH Commercial Real Estate for 17 years and is currently the broker. He first obtained his real estate license during his last semester at Auburn University, where he decided he wanted to pursue commercial real estate.
Dionne is an established agent at our Mountain Brook office. She got her first taste of real estate in Paris, France, where she grew up. She started working with IBM Europe as a relocation coordinator.
Melinda Scott is one of LAH’s newest agents, having just joined the Hoover office in July of 2022. She’s had a passion for real estate ever since she was a child, back when she would help her parents prepare their small rental property for new occupants.