Online Sources for First Time Home Buyers

Online Sources for First Time Home Buyers

Micki Howl
Aug 9, 2011

Buying a home can be an extremely intimidating endeavor. It involves an entirely new vocabulary that many are not familiar with, unexpected fees and costs that are not included within the price of the home and general uncertainty all around. Fortunately these days, the online resources that are available can equip you with the knowledge you need to successfully navigate this process. My husband and I bought our first home last year and did it from halfway aross the country. The internet is truly an amazing tool!

Let's walk through the home buying process and you will see that nowadays, a majority of it can be done online.

Figure out where you want to live.
This may seem obvious but do your research and pinpoint exactly what neighborhoods you are considering. Online resource? Why, Google Maps of course! Use the street view to get a sense of what it's like without physically being there.

Find out what you can afford.
Generally, the rule of thumb is that your housing costs should be about 30% of your net income. Using an online mortgage calculator, you can find current interest rates and what the monthly costs on your loan will be. Investigate loan options and consider a 15 year loan vs. a 30 year loan.

Finding a New Home: Determining What You Can Afford

What is your credit score.
You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from two out of the following three companies:
Experian
TransUnion
Equifax

This is a great opportunity to get your affairs in order and dispute any discrepancies on your report, prior to getting pre-approved for your loan. If you've already requested your reports and need to see if your score has changed, Credit Karma is a free online credit monitoring service.

Before seriously looking, get pre-approved for a loan.
What you don't want is to find your dream home only to lose it because you were waiting to get your loan approval, prior to making an offer.

Find a realtor or broker near you.
Asks friends and family for a referral and read up on AT's 10 Tips for Selecting a Realtor. Browse Redfin or Zillow's online realtor database.

Browse homes for sale.
I highly recommend Trulia for online browsing. Trulia collects all home listings from the MLS system into one easy-to-navigate interface. View maps, large photos, and all listing information from one location.

Secure funding, make an offer and seal the deal.
Anticipate the additional costs: closing costs, utilities and any miscellaneous expenses you may incur during this time.

MORE HOME BUYING ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
Hindsight: Before You Bought Your Home
Good Questions: Advice for First-Time Home Buyers?
Harrowing Tales of Home-Buying
10 Things To Check Before You Buy A Home

Image: Micki Howl

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