The home buying process can be a lengthy and frustrating process. But it doesn’t have to be. With proper planning, purchasing a new home can be exciting and stress-free. The Hustle & Heart Group has provided us with their top tips on purchasing a new home.

1. Know your credit score.

Your credit score is one of the biggest factors in what your loan terms will be. Know your score before you ever try to get a loan, and take the time to repair it if it is lower than 600. A good score which leads to a low-interest rate can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. See how to raise your credit score to get better loan terms.

2. Have a lender pre-approve you before shopping.

What to do before buying a house includes getting pre-approved. In fact, it is one of the most important parts of the home buying process! Pre-approval means you should be able to get the loan as long as nothing changes about your financial situation or your credit score. We have AMAZING lenders on call to help 24/7, including Rachel Saylor of Amerifirst.

3. Shop the lender

While getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a significant step for a first-time buyer so is shopping for the best deal possible. You will probably be paying the mortgage for a while so getting the lowest mortgage rate should be one of your prime considerations. Be sure to look at the annual percentage rate you are paying (commonly referred to as the APR) so you can compare apples to apples. With some loans, you may be paying more points or have higher closing costs than others. So when you are shopping for the best mortgage possible, don’t just look at the rate but the whole package. Again, our lenders are the quickest and 100% there to help YOU!

4. Know every expense

There are a lot of fees that come with a home purchase above and beyond the mortgage. Insurance, repairs, association fees, property taxes – you should have the income and the budget to handle all of these things if they are relevant to your purchase. We talk all the time about additional expenses to consider when buying a home. The article covers seven costs buyers often forget about. You should also have some savings to cover emergencies with the home.

5. Know what you want.

Do you want a home or a condo? For many first time home buyers, this is one of the first dilemmas they will try to solve. In fact, many buyers will look at both because they can’t make up their mind. To make sound decisions, you should know the pros and cons of a condo vs. a house. Where do you want to be? Do school zones matter? All of this is important to take into consideration when decided what you want.

6. Work with a skilled Realtor who knows your area

Every neighborhood has its unique qualities that you want to be aware of before you buy. An agent that is well-informed about the area will also know what homes there are worth, which will help you avoid overpaying for a property. All of us here with the Hustle and Heart Group, specialize in Pinellas County!

7. Use a reputable home inspector

Find a home inspector that is a part of the American Society of Home Inspectors, or someone your real estate agent knows and trusts. You want someone who knows what he or she is doing and is not motivated to miss issues to encourage a sale. It is also advisable to find your inspector if you do not know your real estate agent well. We work with one of the most ethical, caring, and “on your side” inspection companies out there.

8. Have a professional look for the presence of asbestos, mold, and radon.

Although it is an additional cost in the beginning, it is well worth the troubles you will save by finding out before purchasing a home.

Asbestos was a major building material up until around 1977. Before you buy a home, you should be aware of the presence of asbestos, because it can drive up the cost of repairs and renovations while driving down the resale value. If you are planning on doing any repair work yourself, it is especially important that you know of asbestos and takes proper precautions if it is present.

Mold is one of the scariest issues with home buyers today and with good reason as it can cause health problems. If you have any respiratory problems, the presence of mold in a home can make them far worse. Mold is something that can be fixed when buying a home just know what you are getting yourself into. Any mold remediation that is necessary should be taken care of by the seller.

Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that can be found both in the air and the water. Getting rid of mold in the air is easy and rather inexpensive. Removing radon from water, on the other hand, is much more expensive. On average, the cost to remove radon from the air is around $1000-1300 depending on where you live. Removing radon from water is more like $4000-$7000.

9. Know your plan for furniture and do not think too much into the paint and flooring

If you have furniture you like, you will want to bring it with you. Make sure your new home can accommodate it. Or, if you plan on buying new furniture, you want purchase a home at a price that leaves you with enough left over to furnish it. This relates back to item #8 – understand there will be additional expenses with owning a home.

Many buyers don’t have a vision when looking at homes. As crazy as it sounds there are customers who will turn down a home that meets all the criteria they are looking for because they can’t see past the ugly mauve carpeting and the purple and green wall colors.

This is a mistake I see quite a bit. One of the easiest things to change about a home is the color of the walls. Paint is inexpensive and can be applied by you after you buy. The same holds true for carpets. While it is always smart for a seller to spend the money to neutralize a home before it goes on the market that doesn’t mean you should pass on it!

10. Don’t do anything to affect your financial situation- this is KEY!!

Your pre-approval is based on the information given at the time of your application. Any changes, like getting a different job or taking out a car loan, can result in denial of the loan request when you go to purchase a house.

While I like to educate all of my buyers on making large purchases while buying a home there are many who do not. Making a large purchase is not a prudent thing to do when buying a home. This is one of the primary reasons buyers can be denied a mortgage after being pre-approved. This is not a pleasant experience!

For more tips and information on the home-buying process, visit The Hustle & Heart Group, or reach out to Heather Stotts.