Your full guide to home buying and selling

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – Buying a house requires a lot of time and effort, but these tips can help make the home buying process manageable and help you make the best decisions possible.

The housing market in West Michigan offers great opportunities to make your next move, whether it’s buying your first home, upgrading, or changing housing styles.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Start Your Research Early: As soon as you can, start reading Web sites, newspapers, and magazines that have real estate listings. Make a note of particular homes you are interested in and see how long they stay on the market. Also, note any changes in asking prices. This will give you a sense of the housing trends in specific areas.

Determine How Much House You Can Afford by Getting Preapproved: Before you start looking for a home, you will need to know how much you can actually spend. The best way to do that is to get preapproved for a mortgage. This is a very important step. You need to make sure you get the mortgage that is right for you. Use a lender that provides you with good quality financial advice. It’s always a good practice to use local professionals – they know the market. With a preapproval, you will know what you qualify for, how much of a home you can buy and how that fits into your budget. Preapproval letters confirm that a mortgage lender has verified that you’re approved for a mortgage of a certain amount over a fixed timeframe. They remove some of the uncertainty in the home-buying process to help you concentrate on finding the right home for you. The mortgage process generates a significant amount of paperwork.

To help you stay organized, here’s a list of some of the documents you may be required to present throughout the process.

  • Most recent 30 days of pay stubs from all jobs/employment
  • Most recent 2 months of bank statements
  • Most recent 2 years of W-2s from all jobs
  • Most recent 2 years of Federal Tax Returns if you file a schedule C, E, or F, or claim employee business expenses
  • Copies of state issued picture ID
  • Mortgage Options

Credit unions and banks have unique mortgage programs that are designed to fit your specific needs and save you time and money. It’s important to deal with a reputable local lender. It only makes sense to work with your local financial institution that you trust. While there are many internet mortgage lenders, keep in mind that your home is one of the biggest investments you will make and it needs to work financially in your favor.

Your local financial institution, like your credit union, provides you with personal service, local market expertise, and most of all, is safe and secure. This is very important when you want to make changes, sell your home, or consider leveraging the equity you may have.

Shop for Your Home and Make an Offer. Start touring homes in your price range. It might be helpful to take notes on all the homes you visit. It can be hard to remember everything about them, so you might want to take pictures or video to help you remember each home. Make sure to check out the little details of each house. For example:

  • Test the plumbing by running the shower to see how strong the water pressure is and how long it takes to get hot water
  • Try the electrical system by turning switches on and off
  • Open and close the windows and doors to see if they work properly

It’s also important to evaluate the neighborhood and make a note of things such as:

  • Are the other homes on the block well maintained?
  • How much traffic does the street get?
  • Is there enough street parking for your family and visitors?
  • Is it conveniently located near places of interest to you: schools, shopping centers, restaurants, parks, and public transportation?

Take as much time as you need to find the right home. Then work with your real estate agent to negotiate a fair offer based on the value of comparable homes in the same neighborhood. Once you and the seller have reached agreement on a price, the house will go into escrow, which is the period of time it takes to complete all of the remaining steps in the home buying process.

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