Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or looking to move to a different home, one of the biggest questions you have when you start the process is how to find a house within your budget. There are many different choices to consider when you’re buying a home, and since it’s such a large purchase, the process can feel overwhelming.
Should you buy a ranch style, craftsman or mid-century modern home? Do you want something that’s move-in ready, or a fixer upper? Are you going to build your home or buy an existing one? There are probably plenty of questions rattling around in your mind – we’re here to help you get your budget straight so you can find a house that suits you.
Deciding Your Budget
First things first, you need to understand every last dollar of income you and your partner (if applicable) make a month. Add up your paychecks to get your monthly income amount. So, if you make $2,000 a month, and your wife makes $2,000 a month, you have a total monthly take-home pay of $4,000.
After you know how much income you receive, add up your expenses. This is anything that you spend money on – rent, bills, food, clothing, entertainment, etc. Let’s say you spend $500 on rent, $100 on food and $200 for everything else. That’s $800 per month that you’re spending.
Subtract your own number from your income, and you come to the amount that you’re able to put toward a house. So, in this case, you’d be saving $3,200 a month.
Finally, calculate the cost of homeownership to find out how much you’ll need to pay each month for your mortgage, including home insurance and property taxes. Additionally, owning a home comes with other expenses, such as maintenance and repair fees, lawn care, and furniture and decor.
A common rule of thumb is to keep your mortgage within 25 percent of your monthly take-home pay. You never know what changes can come down the road that you may need funds for.
Finding a Realtor that Helps You Stay in Budget
A real estate agent’s duty is to find a house that’s perfect for your lifestyle and family, while respecting your budget and not doing anything suspicious to boost their commission amount. To get the budget talks started, you need to find a realtor that understands how much you’re willing and able to spend.
Here’s five quick and easy ways to find a real estate agent:
- Research companies online by searching for local realty groups that specialize in the property type that you’re looking for and send out some feeler emails.
- Track down referrals from friends and family members who have recently purchased a home.
- Look for real estate agent signs throughout your neighborhood or town center.
- Attend open houses and chat with the real estate agent to see if any sparks fly.
- Call your neighborhood real estate brokerages and request a free consultation or in-person meeting.
Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent
Buyers have specific needs, and certain realtors can specialize in a number of different types of properties. Whatever home you’re trying to buy, there are a number of questions that you should ask your potential agent to understand whether or not they’re willing to work with your budget.
- How long have you been a real estate agent?
This is pretty straight forward, but telling, as an agent that’s been in the business longer will have more experience finding you a home that fits within your budget.
- Will you provide references?
This should be standard practice whenever you are considering working with a real estate agent. The agent should be willing to provide a list of references. Additionally, you can check online reviews which offer candid feedback of the agent’s work ethic and process.
- Will you help me find other professionals for my property needs?
When you buy a house, there’s more people involved than just you and the agent. The realtor should have a list of contacts that will help you with everything you need, including mortgage brokers, insurance agents and service contractors.
Ready to Find the Home that’s Perfect for Your Budget?
Whether you’re a first-time buyer or are moving to a new home, there are several budget-related concerns that you may have. AD Hays Group is here to help you work through any questions that arise during the process, and will guide you through every step of the way. Want to learn more? Email or call us today.