Home Buying Guide: Tips for Shoppers

Shopping for a home is a journey, and while many pleasant journeys follow a winding path where you can’t quite see what’s up ahead, this one demands a clear line of sight and confident navigation.

Searching for the perfect home does not have to be daunting. The key is to know where you’re going, not from a location standpoint, but from a financial one. Before you make a single trip to check out property, check out your budget.

Buying a home brings most people significant debt. The beauty of no longer having a landlord hanging over your head can be outweighed by a hefty mortgage balance hanging there instead. These days, most mortgage companies want homebuyers to make at least a 20 percent down payment. Considering that the median price of a home in the southern U.S. is about $183,000, the monthly payment on a 30-year mortgage may not be much more than a rent payment. But it’s only a portion of the overall financial equation.

Getting pre-approved for a home loan is a common first step to home ownership. (Tip: You’ll want to shop lenders, too. Make sure you understand the different financing options offered.) Pre-approval is a written commitment from a lender that determines how much home you can afford. It considers your income and credit information to calculate your debt-to-income ratio. Yet, borrowing the full pre-approved amount is a common money mistake. A pre-qualified mortgage is merely a rough estimate, and it may tempt some people to overbuy. You still need to plan for additional expenses that come with home ownership, which includes setting aside money for emergencies or for unexpected home maintenance. A general rule of thumb for first-time homebuyers is to look for a house that will cost you no more than two-and-a-half times your annual salary. Of course, your debt and other expenses must be considered.

Location Logistics

Coastal living is an obvious magnet drawing people to Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. Yet, some people living on the coast have found it more difficult to secure the hurricane or wind coverage they need. That’s where Frontline Insurance comes in. Since 2003, Frontline has specialized in providing protection for coastal properties, including hurricane coverage. We make it easy to get the necessary insurance coverage for the location of your dream home.

Most home shoppers have their heart set on a specific neighborhood, and it’s valuable to know everything about it. Learn about the school system in the area. Even those without school-age children will benefit from living in top-rated school districts because that helps raise property values and can pay off again when it comes time to sell.

Visit at different times of the day to get first-hand knowledge of the noise level and traffic patterns. Investigate the level of public services the area receives, including proximity to and quality of local fire departments. It is also wise to find out about the area crime rate. Both the fire department rating and crime level could impact what you pay for home insurance.

Before you sign the final papers on the home of your dreams, schedule a final walk through. Ideally, this should take place about 24 hours before closing the deal. Don’t be in a rush either. You’ll want to conduct a thorough inspection, and be especially picky about it! Many people invite a home inspector or licensed contractor along to enlist their expertise in finding problems and in verifying that all requested repairs were properly made. Check everything inside and out – from making sure the yard is spruced up to checking all electrical outlets and major appliances. After all, you are making a major purchase and want to be confident you get what you expected.

When you are ready to shop for homeowners insurance, visit www.FrontlineInsurance.com. We make it easy to get the protection you need. It’s as close as a few clicks away and a phone call to your local agent. You’ve picked the perfect place to call home, and we’re ready to help you protect it.

Please remember that the comments contained in this blog are general in nature and that coverage under any specific policy of insurance will depend upon the terms and conditions of such policy.