Most people don’t realize that there’s more to the home buying process that meets the eye. The steps of buying a house aren’t as simple as choosing the one you like and making a bid.

As a homebuyer, you need to be financially and emotionally prepared for the overall experience. The better equipped you are for the purchase, the more successful it will be.

Before checking out homes for sale in Tacoma, WA, make sure you’re fully prepared by following these tips:

Understand the mortgage process

Since many homes are bought with a mortgage loan, you need to understand how the mortgage process goes. Learn the difference between fixed-rate mortgages and adjustable rate mortgages, as well as the types of fees you have to pay.

To qualify for a mortgage, especially one with low interest rates, you need a high credit score and a low debt-to-income ratio. If you’re buying in a hot market, getting a mortgage pre-approval will give your offer more weight. Your pre-approval assures sellers that you’re financially capable of paying for the purchase. It will also help you in determining the budget to allot for the home buying endeavor.

Shop around for your mortgage to get the best deal possible. Talk to several lenders and scrutinize what they’re offering. Choose the deal that will best suit your needs.

Improve your credit score

To get a good mortgage deal, improve your credit score. The ideal mortgage score would be around 670 and above.

Look into your credit reports and if there are any inconsistencies, have these corrected immediately. Minimize your debt and pay any outstanding fees. It would also be best to avoid signing up for new credit cards or to make big purchases before applying for a mortgage.

Take note that you don’t have to be debtless to buy a home but having less debt does get you a better mortgage. It also keeps your finances in check in the long run.

Save for a down payment

The bigger the amount you pay upfront for the house, the lower the monthly mortgage bills you’ll pay. Plus, with a large down payment, your offer becomes more appealing to sellers.

The ideal down payment is 10% to 20% of the cost of the home. However, if you pay less than 20% on the down payment, your lender will require you to get private mortgage insurance.

Be thrift-conscious – create your personal savings plan! Consider your current budget and think of how you can cut costs. Paying a sizable down payment is one great way to save money in the long term and to make you more financially secure.

Figure out what you can afford

In addition to the price range of a home, also take into consideration hidden costs such as closing fees, moving expenses, property taxes, maintenance, and monthly utility bills.

One of the most common mistakes of first-time homebuyers is failing to factor in these additional costs of homeownership. This oversight could mean the difference between living happily in your dream home and being house poor.

A popular rule of thumb in setting an overall budget is the “28/36 rule.” According to this rule, you should only spend 28% or less of your monthly salary on housing costs and 36% or less on total debt.

Know what you really want in a home

For a smooth and easy home search, make sure you know what you want in a home before shopping around. Consider your lifestyle needs for the near term and the long term, as well as the type of home that will best complement these needs.

Also list down the features you want in your property like the number of bedrooms, square footage, and the like. Listing down features you don’t want in a home can help narrow down your search, as well.

Research the neighborhood

Location is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a home. Before putting out money, first research into different neighborhoods that capture your interest. Make sure that these are located close to places that are important to you like schools, shopping centers, restaurants, parks, and the like.

Also, pay attention to real estate market trends and the prevailing atmosphere in your chosen area. That way, you’ll know if a certain neighborhood is a hot market, as well as the extent of competition you should expect.

Looking for a Pierce County real estate expert? I’m Lori Lewandowski and I’ve been helping buyers in finding their dream homes for 13 years. Get in touch with me today at 253.617.5922 or send an email to

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