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    12 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Home, According To Real Estate Agents

    If a home has no yard space, you *might* want to reconsider.

    For many people, it's tough to wrap their heads around the long, complicated process of buying a home. There are just sooo many variables, so many ways to prepare, and so many things to avoid.

    ABC / Via giphy.com

    So to help you learn a bit more about ways to prepare for the home-buying process, we rounded up some of the best pieces of advice from the real estate agents of TikTok.

    And while there's been a lot of, um, questionable pieces of financial advice floating around TikTok, these tips come from *real* real estate agents. 

    1. This video from @sarahmiller.realtor on the importance of getting a home inspection.

    The TikTok explains that, sure, a home inspection can help you find things that may be wrong with the house. But it can also help you *learn* how to locate and use different things around the home — like the electrical panel. Bottom line: A home inspection is very much worth the money!

    Important to note: While home inspections aren't always required, they are highly recommended because an inspection can uncover any property issues that may otherwise have gone unnoticed by the buyer. Given the current seller's market, however, some buyers choose to forego, or waive, the home inspection to make their offer appeal more to the seller. If you're in the market for a new home, consider that a home inspection can help you avoid dealing with expensive damage and repairs you might have otherwise not known about — it could seriously help you avoid some major home-buying regrets!

    2. This video from @kerishullteam outlining four very important things to consider when looking for a home (because believe it or not, some of these things get overlooked all. The. Time.).

    The TikToker/realtor explains the importance of location, home features, price, and home type. When it comes to location, think about where you work, the shops you enjoy, and the parks you like going to. This way, you can find the location that suits your lifestyle.

    They go on to describe how you should think of home features as how many bedrooms and bathrooms you have, and renovations that have been done. And when thinking about home pricing, you should always consider it as the amount of money you're preapproved for. Lastly, they explain that there are three main types of homes (single-family, townhouse, and condo) and the one you choose will depend on your lifestyle.

    3. This video from @passionhomesla listing a few things you *really* should avoid doing if you haven't closed on a house yet.

    According to the realtor, buying a car, running up your credit card, buying furniture or appliances, and cosigning on other loans are all HUGE no-no's when you're waiting to close on your home. You should *also* avoid changing jobs and making large account deposits; wait until AFTER you've closed on the home.

    So let's break this down: The TikToker advises against buying a car, making large purchases on your credit card, and cosigning loans. According to Quicken Loans, this is because the mortgage company will calculate you debt-to-income ratio throughout the home-buying process (yes, right up to the moment you close on the house). Your debt-to-income ratio is your total debt divided by your gross monthly income. So if you're running up your credit card and taking on a car loan, you're running *up* your total debt — and that'll increase your debt-to-income ratio. A high ratio is risky in the eyes of a mortgage lender. 

    As for the whole changing jobs thing, the idea here is that mortgage lenders want to make sure that you have a reliable income source. In some cases, changing your job might not jeopardize your ability to close on the home — like, if a job change will increase your income. But if you're moving from a salaried position to one based on commissions, becoming self-employed or a contractor, or changing industries or making a lateral move, you might raise a few eyebrows. 

    And according to Rocket HQ, when it comes to large cash deposits, lenders want to make sure that a) the money in your account was obtained *legally* and b) the money is not loaned to you by a friend or family member (borrowed money can make it seem like you're trying to inflate your income to get approved). You must be able to prove the source of any deposits into your account. This could be through invoices, pay stubs, or gift letters.

    4. This video from @janinenissa on the *one thing* you should probably never do when touring a home — and, honestly, WOW.

    Person saying what to avoid when touring a home
    @janinenissa / Via tiktok.com

    According to the TikToker, you should avoid commenting on the home while you're touring it. They say it's because many homes have cameras in them so homeowners can hear what you're saying. A compliment about the yard space, for example, could hurt you during negotiations, the realtor said.

    The TikToker says you should always assume you're being watched when you tour a home. However, it is okay to ask questions while you're inside the home. Just save your comments/compliments for when you're outside the home or even standing across the street.

    5. This video from @msjessielockhart, an Arizona- and Utah-based realtor, on things you need when buying a house.

    According to the TikTok, you'll need tax returns showing a steady income, a credit score of at least 580, and about $5K–$10K in a savings account. These savings are recommended on top of what you've socked away for your your down payment and fees as a home emergency fund.

    FYI, a 580 credit score can get you approved for an FHA loan with at least a 3.5% down payment. For a conventional loan, however, you'll need a credit score of at least 620.

    6. This video from @yourmortgageguide on why it's important for self-employed people to have two years' worth of tax returns when starting the home-buying process.

    @yourmortgageguide / Via tiktok.com

    The TikToker, who is actually a mortgage loan officer, breaks things down for a follower who commented about having a business but not having enough tax return history for a home. They explain that banks lend buyers *a lot* of money for a home purchase and need to make sure that the buyer/borrower can earn the money they need to repay the mortgage.

    This is where the tax returns come in. The tax returns will help verify the income you're using to qualify for the mortgage, the TikToker says. You'll need two years' worth of tax returns so mortgage bankers can make sure you're on track to make about the same when buying your home.

    7. This video from @therealtorchris describing a few things you should watch out for (and avoid) when buying a home.

    According to the realtor, you should avoid buying a house on a busy street, a house with no garage (especially if the other homes in the neighborhood all have garages), a house with no yard space, and a house that backs industrial or apartment complexes.

    The big reason for ALL of these is because even if no garage or a loud street doesn't bother YOU, it may bother a potential future home BUYER. You could end up having a hard time selling your home in the future if you throw these details to the wind. What may be no big deal to you could be a deal breaker for someone else!

    8. This video from @mzmovesyou listing some *reaaally* good reasons why you should get preapproved for a loan before you start looking for homes.

    @mzmovesyou / Via tiktok.com

    The real estate agent mentions that getting preapproved shows your buying power. In other words, preapproval can tell you how much you can afford, what types of loans you qualify for, what your monthly payments will look like, and about how much cash you'll need for closing on the home.

    Another perk: Getting preapproved can allow your real estate agent to assist you better because they'll have more info to do so! As this TikToker puts it, getting preapproved is basically your golden ticket for looking at homes.

    9. This video from @vanessaaragonrealtor explaining a general timeline for how long it usually takes to buy a home.

    @vanessaaragonrealtor / Via tiktok.com

    The TikToker explains that, first and foremost, you should start getting familiar with your credit scores ASAP. This way, you'll know if you should start taking action to improve them before beginning the home-buying process. Then, if you want to close on a home by November, you should start connecting with a realtor as early as May.

    You should then aim to get prequalified for a loan by around July (having a healthy credit score can actually help you get better interest rates for these loans!). You can begin shopping around for homes around August or September (your prequalification lasts for about 60 days). Then, the realtor mentions that you should ideally go under contract for the home by the end of September so you can close in October or November. If you're trying to buy a home *now*, just keep in mind that the market conditions in your city may mean that the process takes longer, but patience will be key!

    10. This video from @carolynebeaulne listing out some ~expected expenses~ that you should make sure you understand before starting the home-buying process.

    @carolynebeaulne / Via tiktok.com

    The realtor mentions a laundry list of expenses you should be prepared for: a down payment worth 1%–20%, a $500 appraisal fee, a home inspection — which can cost between $300 and $450 — closing costs, and moving expenses (like storage space or moving trucks).

    11. This video from @featuringfarah on four things you should *always* check when touring a home.

    @featuringfarah / Via tiktok.com

    The realtor suggests checking appliances (like stoves), checking underneath rugs for floor damage, checking light fixtures, and checking the overall condition of the home to make sure nothing is damaged or defective.

    @featuringfarah

    Don’t let the sellers pull anything on you durin your buyer visits! #ontariorealtor #realestate #homebuyingtips #torontorealtor

    ♬ Build a Bitch - Bella Poarch

    They also note that appliances should be the same brand as noted in the housing agreement.

    12. And this video from @tiktokrealtordavid on some important guidelines for buying a home as a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient.

    The TikToker explains that DACA recipients and DREAMers have access to FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loans as of January 20, 2021. They also break down a few key points these individuals should know before starting the process — like the fact that they must have a valid social security number and the home they buy *must* be their primary residence.

    DACA recipients and DREAMers must also have a credit score of 620 or higher. And they can also qualify for down payment assistance for up to 5%; they just need to have at least one year's worth of tax returns.

    Are you a realtor? Share your best tips for buying a home in the comments below!

    And while you're at it, check out our other personal finance posts. 

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