Buying your first home can feel incredibly daunting. But, the good news is that you’ve likely encountered other overwhelming tasks in your life and came out stronger and more knowledgeable than before. Investing in real estate is no different. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed initially – and why wouldn’t you be? That’s a lot of money you’re going to spend! When the information gap feels insurmountable, it’s hard to suss out where to begin bridging that divide. Of course, you’d like to be armed with as much information as possible to help you make the best decisions for yourself in the long term.
Keep in mind that the team you’ll be assembling should know plenty. You don’t have to know everything, but you do have to have enough information on hand to be able to advocate for yourself. So, from start to finish, here are some websites to help you get started on your road to being a wise investor.
CreditKarma.com – Credit Karma is a free service that lets you get a comprehensive look at your credit history. The snapshot it can show you about your credit usage is not considered a “hard pull” on your credit and will not affect your credit score overall. Afraid you have bad credit? Well, knowledge is power and knowing where you’re starting is the first step to getting better, and that’s where Credit Karma comes in: it suggests credit cards you can apply for and will help you improve your credit score overall. Your credit score is important to lenders, so if you’re looking to expand your horizons as to what type of loan or line of credit you’re going to be able to qualify for, Credit Karma is a great place to start. You’re not going to buy a house overnight. This is a long term investment and the process of buying will also take some time. You have time to improve your credit while you wait, so take advantage of this window while you still have it. Your future self will thank you for it.
HomeFinder.com – “But, isn’t this exactly like Zillow and Redfin and…” you know what, I hear you, and you’re right, this website is very similar to those other popular sites people use to get a feel of the market. However, what you’ll be able to see on Home Finder will also include foreclosures in the area, off-market listings, as well as rent to own properties. So no, it’s not as bright and flashy as Zillow, but it will keep you optimistic. This website will show you a more accurate holistic view of what the market is where you’re looking to buy.
Trulia – In a similar “same but different” vein, Trulia is a subsidiary of Zillow and therefore works similarly. However, what you’re able to see on Trulia includes testimonials from your future neighbors regarding the community the prospective property is in. Additionally, there’s a place to check out the neighborhood’s LGBT Local Legal Protections to see what infrastructure is in place to keep you and your family safe if you happen to be part of the queer community. On Trulia, pet owners can also find feedback from their neighborhood to-be about how their furry family members will be treated. Is there wildlife you need to be worried about before you let your dog off leash? Tulia is where you’re going to find more than just the house listing; you’ll be able to feel out what it’ll be like to live there before you show up to tour the property.
NerdWallet.com – You’re going to need to get familiar with a mortgage calculator, like NerdWallet, if you want to see what’s feasible for your prospective investment. This especially goes for those of you who think that your down payment automatically has to be 20% of the purchase price. A 20% down payment will make your life easier, but it’s less of a cut and dry rule than you may think. According to Rocket Homes, the average down payment for a home buyer is more like 6%. Times are tough for everyone, but the brightside to all of that is you’re not alone. Figure out what’s possible for you based on your current debt and income situation using a service like NerdWallet and you’ll be ready to advocate for the right mortgage for you very quickly.
eForms – If you’re going an alternative route to buying a home outside of working with a real estate agent – for example, you find a house on Craigslist or you’re buying from a family friend independently – you’re going to want to establish a Purchasing Agreement both you and the seller can sign that’s legally binding in the state where your property is located. The problem is, you’re not a lawyer. The solution? eForms has some basic templates for you to get this document going. It doesn’t need to be ironclad, but it does need to be signed and reflecting the terms you and the seller both agreed to. That way, when you talk to your broker or mortgage agent about a house you’re interested in financing, they have the right information to help you and aren’t working off of hearsay.
YoungAlfred – Meet your new favorite homeowners insurance search engine! The beauty of investing in real estate is that your investment is protected by insurance. The variables drawn from your life to calculate your exact mortgage are vast and so are the factors used to evaluate what kind of home insurance is best for you. What’s the roof like? How close is the closest fire department? What about flooding? Here is where you input all of your information about a property to assess what kind of homeowners insurance you’ll need. You don’t want to find your dream property, get the perfect mortgage, then end up with the world’s most extravagant insurance policy. You’ll want to get a handle on this number before you fall in love with a property. Insurance is a non negotiable, so it’s important that you know what you’re getting into before it’s too late. But, if you happen to find an insurance policy you love right off the bat, Young Alfred will help you connect with that company so you can make things official.