Set a Budget: Setting a budget and following it is a key concept when buying a home.  No matter what you are qualified for if you don’t feel comfortable with that monthly payment it will cause you undue stress.  Calculate how much you believe you can reasonably afford to spend each month on housing.  This is the most important aspect in buying a home to be successful.  If you are stretched with a payment that is out of your comfort zone homeownership will become a burden rather than an accomplishment.

Include Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance In the Budget: If you have been renting you may not be familiar with the fact that your mortgage payment is not alone when it comes to expenses related to your mortgage.  Many lenders will roll the principal, interest, taxes and insurance into your monthly payment.  If you have less than twenty percent down, a PMI expense will be added as well.  Make sure you talk to your lender about these extras as they can almost double your monthly payment.

Determine How Much Cash Is Needed At Closing: Typically your down payment should be between five and twenty percent of the cost of the home.  A down payment of less than twenty percent requires primary mortgage insurance, otherwise known as PMI.  The amount you will need in cash at closing includes your down payment, loan origination fees, title insurance as well as other miscellaneous fees.  Be prepared to have a substantial amount of reserve in your savings as expenses tend to creep up throughout the home buying process.

Research Yearly Utility Rates: Moving to a different climate or larger home can significantly change the monthly payment on your utilities.  The last thing that you want is to get into a home that you can comfortably afford and then learn the heating and cooling expenses knock your budget into chaos. 

Eliminate Debt Prior To Purchase: Try to eliminate as much debt as possible before you start the home buying process.  This will lower your debt to income ratio and give you a better chance at a lower interest rate on your mortgage.  It will also free up cash that is being used on old debt to apply towards your home.

Find Out What Your Credit Score Is: You should know your credit score before beginning to look for a home as well.  There needs to be time to repair any discrepancies as well time to increase your score.  The higher your credit scores the better financial risk you appear to be and thus lenders will be more apt to offer you a lower interest rate within the terms of your mortgage.

Get Prequalified:  A prequalification is something most real estate agents require before they begin showing you homes.  A prequalification is the amount that lenders feel comfortable loaning you.  This will give you a base to begin your search.  The amount you have towards a down payment also factors into the overall amount that you have to spend on a home.

Find A RealtorAfter you have taken all of the above steps you are ready to start looking at homes to purchase.  There are many real estate agents available to show you homes but few are qualified to help you through the entire process.   Work with an agent that understands what your needs are.  They should be familiar with the area you would like to live and be able to offer you stats on the neighborhoods, the schools, crime, recreational options and more.  Don’t just work with anyone.  Find a realtor that is willing to go the extra mile in finding you exactly what you want at the price you can afford.

Lady of the Lakes Real Estate is Livingston County’s premiere realtor; out of Pinckney, Michigan helping buyers buy and sellers sell homes that provide a recreational lifestyle including golf courses, lakes and the Huron river chain of lakes, throughout Brighton, Howell, Pinckney and the surrounding area. Find out more at