It's a sellers' market, so homebuyers need to be even more prepared than ever to confidently shop for, bid on and pay for a home. As with all things financial, planning is key.
Whether buying your first home or downsizing to your last, here are some tips for buyers:
Know your budget. Many first-time buyers become "house poor" by agreeing to a mortgage that forces them to stretch other areas of their budget. Leave room for necessities, as well as repairs and the unexpected. Don't let the stress of an overextended budget negatively affect the happiness within your new home.
Get pre-approved, not pre-qualified. Pre-approval status from a bank gives the seller certainty that you are approved for a specific amount. In contrast, pre-qualification simply greenlights the loan process. During competitive bidding situations, pre-approval may give you the win.
Watch interest rates carefully. Today, interest rates are relatively low, making it an ideal time for people to buy rather than rent. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates consistently over the last two years, which may indicate higher mortgage interest rates are on the horizon. If you're interested in buying, you may want to act now.
Seek advice. First-time buyers should talk to their accountant, financial advisor or qualified mortgage broker to get opinions before looking for a home. These professionals can offer perspectives that will streamline the buying process.
*Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisors LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity.