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Choosing Your Home & Closing the Deal

Here are some more quick tips to prepare for buying a home. Whether you're a first-time home buyer or a seasoned homeowner, it's always good to check all of these boxes before taking the leap. Buying a home is a huge decision, and we're happy to be right along your side for the whole journey. Check out some basic tricks that will make you more prepared when it's time for the big moment. 

What to Look For in a Home

The first step is deciding which location best suits your needs. You should look at the neighborhood, shopping in the surrounding area, distance from work, etc. If you have kids, it's also important to look at the school districts and the quality ratings that go along with them. 

As far as the house itself, think about your needs. Do you want a guest bedroom? Do you work from home and require a designated office space? Would you like to have a finished basement for entertaining or a kids playroom? All of these questions will help you determine how many bedrooms and bathrooms you require. Taking a look at the condition of the home's electrical and plumbing is also a good idea. 

House Hunting Tips

It is good to start touring homes once you've come up with your list of requirements and created a wants and needs category. In order to do this, think about each requirement and ask yourself if the house was amazing in every other way, would I compromise on this? If the answer is yes, it's a want. If the answer is no, it's a need. 

Ready for a Real Estate Agent

The next step is finding a real estate agent. HomeTraq makes it easy for you to tour properties you love and find the right real estate agent for you, without pressure to commit right away. If you find a place you want to tour, click here and type in the address. Soon, a real estate agent in the area will accept your tour request and meet you at the home. Once the tour is over, you are able to continue with that agent or find a new one by following the same process. 

A real estate agent will be able to provide all of the up-to-date information about the area, school systems, tax rates, water and sewer charges, or anything else that will go into your decision on a home.

Making an Offer

Once you have found the perfect home, it's time to make an offer. The first step will be meeting with your real estate agent, as well as an attorney, to fill out the Offer to Purchase form. This varies state by state and can be complicated, so it's best to fill it out with parties that thoroughly understand the form. You will then determine how much you're willing to pay for the house, keeping in mind factors like how much you can afford, how many other buyers there are, and how badly you want the home. 

The Inspection

It is advised that you include a contingency of offer depending on the results of the home inspection. This inspection is done by a professional, third-party company and is usually the responsibility of the buyer. This inspection should cover all central heating/cooling systems, insulation, structural components (interior walls, roof), and the foundation of the home. You most definitely can (and should) be present when the home inspection is being done so you can ask any questions and review what is being inspected. 

Finally, you'll make a deposit called "earnest money" to your real estate agent to go along with your offer. This shows that you are serious about the offer. If the sale goes through, that money will be deducted from the money owed at closing. If the seller rejects your offer, that money will be returned. Once your offer is made, the seller may make a counteroffer. From there, you have the option of accepting, rejecting, or making another counteroffer. That process goes on until an offer is accepted!

Check out more helpful blogs for home buyers here. When you're ready to tour a home, you can do it directly on our website here

What to Know about Getting Ready to Buy a Home

Buying a home is a big decision. It can be a great financial choice if you play your cards right. However, it's a huge commitment, and can cause problems if you're not meticulous. Don't forget to speak with a local mortgage expert before buying a home. Thinking about getting the process started? Here's what you need to know.

Credit Standing

Check your credit.

Your credit history and standing are very important information to be aware of before you begin the process. Lenders will use this information to determine if you are approved for a mortgage and what interest rate will be charged on a loan. 

Creditors (institutions that extend credit) will use your credit history to assess how much of a risk you are to extend a loan to and how likely you are to pay the loan back. This includes factors like income, length of employment, past credit history, amount of outstanding debts, etc. Lenders are the pickiest with home loans because the purchase (and loan) is so large.

Protecting your good credit standing.

The bottom line: repay extended credit in full, on time. Late payments, no matter the amount, are one of the biggest red flags and can tank your credit score quickly. Minimum payments can also cause trouble because they're often small. You won't receive late fees if you pay the minimum, but you also won't be making a large dent in repaying the amount you owe (and interest adds up quickly). Use your credit to your advantage by making a thorough budget and only putting expenses on your credit card you are able to pay off at the end of the month. 

Repairing bad credit.

Repairing a bad credit score can take time, but it will rise the more regular, on-time payments are made. You also can contact a financial counselor to assist in creating and maintaining a budget. 

Budgeting/Saving for a Home

The key to beginning to build your budget is the right mindset. Financial discussions can often be stressful but go into it with curiosity. Research and look into where you are spending most of your money to find avenues where you can maybe cut back and save. The little things, like making your coffee at home, can add up. 

From there, you can begin to budget for your downpayment and mortgage moving forward. It's important to save for the initial downpayment as well as the monthly charges that will continue to occur. Building a home maintenance section into your budget will ensure you have the money moving forward for your home. 

Prequalifying for a Mortgage

Prequalifying for a mortgage allows you to see what you could afford when purchasing a home. This takes into account factors like your income, savings, and debt, as well as looking at the current interest rates for home loans. This information can help you determine what monthly mortgage payment and initial downpayment you can afford. It's not a loan guarantee or a commitment to a certain lender. 

Have more questions about financial options and downpayment assistance? Click here to get connected to a loan officer about pre-approval.

How We'll Use the Follow-Up Funding from Arch Grants

HomeTraq has recently been awarded a $100,000 grant from Arch Grants. Arch Grants is a nonprofit in St. Louis that is focused on transforming the economy in St. Louis by attracting and retaining extraordinary entrepreneurs. Since 2012, Arch Grants has awarded more than $11 million in cash grants to attract or retain more than 200 early-stage businesses in St. Louis, invigorating the city's startup scene with new talent and ideas and helping to shape the future economy of the region.

HomeTraq is using new funding to improve homeownership levels in underserved communities.

HomeTraq is a 2019 Arch Grants Company that received the new $100,000 grant through Arch Grants' Growth Grants program. 

“HomeTraq is honored and humbled to receive follow-up funding from Arch Grants,” said Mark Gorman, Co-Founder, and CEO of HomeTraq. “We are proud to share Arch Grants’ commitment to putting a dent into the systemic issues that have been plaguing our communities for decades!”

HomeTraq and Down Payment Assistance

HomeTraq focuses on connecting homebuyers to local lenders that make providing down-payment assistance (DPA) a priority. The additional funding from Arch Grants is being used to improve HomeTraq’s integration with DPA parameters to immediately identify which for-sale homes may qualify for financial assistance and connect the buyers with assistance from local lenders to begin the mortgage process.

“Unfortunately, most DPA money and grants go unused every year, primarily because of lack of education and awareness to those who qualify for them” Gorman added.  “Alongside community-minded partners like Arch Grants, we will fix this homeownership barrier.”

The additional funding will also be able to support enhancements to the home touring and down payment assistance services to improve the user experience for customers of financial partners and scale HomeTraq into new markets and ignite socially responsible initiatives in low-to-moderate income and underserved communities. The funding can continue to improve HomeTraq's home touring service, which coordinates on-demand home tours with nearly 300 local network real estate agents from over 35 real estate brokerages.

Down Payment Assistance (DPA) Explained

It may be more difficult for some buyers to save a ton of money for a down payment. Instead, some lenders will offer low-to-no down payment mortgages to allow new buyers the chance to enjoy homeownership. Your best bet for ensuring a reasonable rate on your loan is to build up your credit. If you've taken out other loans for things like cars, student loans, or personal loans, you likely already have a substantial credit history. HomeTraq can help connect you to lenders that offer low-to-no down payment mortgages depending on your situation. Click here to learn more about DPA and what resources are out there.

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