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11 Things Everyone Starting The Home-Buying Process Needs To Know

We'll let you in on a secret: Rocket Mortgage® is there to help you make sense of the home-buying process.

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1. Avoid making big financial changes right before buying a home.

You'll want to keep your financials smooth and steady in the months before buying a home. You don't want to apply for new credit, close any accounts, change jobs, or make big purchases. These types of changes can alter your debt-to-income ratio and complicate getting approved for a mortgage.
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You'll want to keep your financials smooth and steady in the months before buying a home. You don't want to apply for new credit, close any accounts, change jobs, or make big purchases. These types of changes can alter your debt-to-income ratio and complicate getting approved for a mortgage.

2. Take the time to get to know the neighborhood.

You're not just buying a home; you're joining a neighborhood. Make sure you'll feel at home in your new home by doing some research: What are home values like in the area? Is the area walkable? What's the crime rate? Are there more renters than homeowners? Is there any pending construction nearby? Be sure to ask the sellers (and the internet!) these types of questions before making an offer.
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You're not just buying a home; you're joining a neighborhood. Make sure you'll feel at home in your new home by doing some research: What are home values like in the area? Is the area walkable? What's the crime rate? Are there more renters than homeowners? Is there any pending construction nearby? Be sure to ask the sellers (and the internet!) these types of questions before making an offer.

3. And make a point to learn property lines.

Not only will knowing your property lines help you avoid potential disputes with your neighbors — it can affect your taxes. Your property tax is based on how much property you own, so you should have an accurate map.
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Not only will knowing your property lines help you avoid potential disputes with your neighbors — it can affect your taxes. Your property tax is based on how much property you own, so you should have an accurate map.

4. Schools matter — even if you don't have kids.

Even if you don't have kids — and aren't planning to have them any time soon — you're probably better off buying in a quality school district. While homes in top-ranked school districts cost more, they typically retain their value better than homes in average-ranked school districts.
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Even if you don't have kids — and aren't planning to have them any time soon — you're probably better off buying in a quality school district. While homes in top-ranked school districts cost more, they typically retain their value better than homes in average-ranked school districts.

5. Buying a foreclosure probably isn’t as risky as you think.

Does buying a foreclosed property involve some risk? Yes. But that’s because buying a home — any home — involves a degree of risk. In general, there’s nothing more risky about purchasing a foreclosure. Usually, by the time a home is owned by a bank, they’ve eliminated lingering debts and other potential hidden costs.
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Does buying a foreclosed property involve some risk? Yes. But that’s because buying a home — any home — involves a degree of risk. In general, there’s nothing more risky about purchasing a foreclosure. Usually, by the time a home is owned by a bank, they’ve eliminated lingering debts and other potential hidden costs.

6. Make sure you understand all the purchase costs.

A down payment isn't the only upfront cost you need to be prepared for. You'll likely also need to cover a home inspection and closing costs. Some lenders also require you to have a certain amount of cash reserves. Plan ahead!
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A down payment isn't the only upfront cost you need to be prepared for. You'll likely also need to cover a home inspection and closing costs. Some lenders also require you to have a certain amount of cash reserves. Plan ahead!

7. You don't always need a big down payment.

Worried about a 20% down payment? While there are advantages to putting more money down upfront, it’s not always necessary. Conventional loans can require as little as 5% of a home's price, and some borrowers may qualify for special programs that allow for as little as 3% down.
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Worried about a 20% down payment? While there are advantages to putting more money down upfront, it’s not always necessary. Conventional loans can require as little as 5% of a home's price, and some borrowers may qualify for special programs that allow for as little as 3% down.

8. You won’t regret a home inspection.

Home inspections allow buyers to have an independent third party identify major issues (think: cracked foundation, damaged walls, electrical issues) with a home before closing. If the inspector finds anything wrong, that can be used as leverage in a negotiation or a reason to get out of the sale altogether. It's an additional cost, but buying a home is a serious investment and you should treat it like one.
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Home inspections allow buyers to have an independent third party identify major issues (think: cracked foundation, damaged walls, electrical issues) with a home before closing. If the inspector finds anything wrong, that can be used as leverage in a negotiation or a reason to get out of the sale altogether. It's an additional cost, but buying a home is a serious investment and you should treat it like one.

9. Keep your monthly payment in mind.

The total purchase price isn't the only number you should be looking at. It’s important to keep your monthly payment in mind as you look for a home. And the amount is likely to be more than just loan and interest — other costs like property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association dues, and private mortgage insurance are billed on a monthly basis as well.
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The total purchase price isn't the only number you should be looking at. It’s important to keep your monthly payment in mind as you look for a home. And the amount is likely to be more than just loan and interest — other costs like property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association dues, and private mortgage insurance are billed on a monthly basis as well.

10. Be emotionally prepared to negotiate.

Negotiating is difficult. If you're going to get the best deal, you need to stay clear-eyed — and be prepared to walk away. So don't "fall in love" with a house too early in the process; it can lead you astray when it comes to negotiating a price.
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Negotiating is difficult. If you're going to get the best deal, you need to stay clear-eyed — and be prepared to walk away. So don't "fall in love" with a house too early in the process; it can lead you astray when it comes to negotiating a price.

11. Don't lose sight of the big picture.

It’s easy to get hung up on superficial details like staging and paint colors. Stay focused on the big picture by creating a list of must-haves and deal-breakers at the start of your search. It will help you evaluate houses without getting distracted.
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It’s easy to get hung up on superficial details like staging and paint colors. Stay focused on the big picture by creating a list of must-haves and deal-breakers at the start of your search. It will help you evaluate houses without getting distracted.

Keep your eyes on the prize! Rocket Mortgage® has you and your family covered, so you can apply simply, understand fully, and mortgage confidently. Get approved in as few as eight minutes!*

*Based on a sample of Rocket Mortgage® clients who met qualifying approval criteria based on specific loan requirements and appropriate documentation available at the time of application.

NMLS #3030

All facts provided by the Quicken Loans® Home Buyer's Guide, learn more.

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