Judie Docs, Executive Officer, North Coast Building Industry Association (NCBIA) www.ncbia.com, CSP, MCSP, CGP, CMP, MIRM

Congratulations, you have decided to buy a home this year. Homeownership has many rewards including building up equity and having a place to call your own. Whether you are a first-time buyer or a trade-up buyer, the sooner you start preparing, the better. By following these simple tips, you will feel confident and ready to get out there and find the perfect home for you this year.

Determine Your Home Search Criteria

In a hot housing market, you may not get all the home features you want in a new place within your budget. You will have to decide on what you are not willing to compromise. It is crucial to sit down and think through what your needs and wants are. Home features such as square footage or the size of the backyard might be difficult to change. Even seasoned homeowners will find it an effective use of time to make a list of new home must-have features.

Instead of scrolling through listing after listing, you can narrow down your search significantly by knowing your absolute needs. Prioritizing your list is important but so is keeping an open mind, especially when it comes to the smaller stuff. Most home buyers will have to compromise on at least a couple of items to find a house within their budget.

Check Your Credit Score

Credit requirements have become stricter in recent years, making it challenging for some buyers to find home loans. Having a favorable credit score can make an enormous difference in getting approved for a loan. Experts recommend checking your credit report even if you think nothing has changed. You will have to make sure you are not being unfairly penalized for old debts, which can sometimes linger on credit reports.

Typically, borrowers with scores in the low 600s and even high 500s can still find lenders who will qualify them, but ideally, you should strive for scores in the mid-to-upper-700s to land the best rate. Also, refrain from opening any new credit cards in the months leading up to your purchase because it could hurt your chances of getting a mortgage.

Decide How Much You Want To Spend

Don’t let your maximum loan approval amount dictate your home buying budget. Honestly examine your finances and determine what you can safely, realistically afford. Experts say your total monthly home expenses should not exceed more than one-third of your gross monthly income. Do not forget to calculate in your final budget how much you will need to cover any loan fees and closing costs.

Sell Your Current Home

If buying a new home is contingent on selling your current one, it is a good idea to reach out and consult with your realtor. Before listing your home for sale, consider working on any maintenance issues your home may have and plan for when, how, and if each one will be addressed. Ask your realtor if investing in any upgrades to your current home would result in a favorable return when it comes time to sell and get to work. You might be surprised by how much even minor repairs and upgrades can attract potential home buyers.

For more information about the home-buying process, contact the NCBIA or visit our home show this weekend and stop by Donna Templeton of Howard Hanna booth at our home show this weekend. You can also see vendors to take care of things that might have to do before you sell. The NCBIA Home & Remodeling Show is now a 2-Day Event! Come to Emerald Event Center in Avon on February 26th from 9am to 5pm and  February 27th from 10am to 3pm to get information, tips, and goodies from over sixty vendors. This ever-growing event is turning into something you do not want to miss. From windows to doors, roofs to floors, anything you could need to complete those spring projects will be at our show!

We have three great event sponsors that this show would not be possible without their support: 84 Lumber, MDG Maintenance & Handyman Services out of Lorain, and Mix 102.7 out of Sandusky! We also have some amazing supporting sponsors in Bennett Builders & Remodelers, E. H. Roberts Co., and the Morning Journal! Thanks to these sponsors, admission and parking at our Home & Remodeling Show is FREE!

This show is a wonderful way for the community to get together and see what the NCBIA is all about. We offer the only list you will ever need when it comes to finding the right contractor for your projects. All our members are reputable companies in the Lorain, Erie and Huron County areas and we highly recommend each and every one of them.

We are your local not-for-profit trade association representing member companies involved in all aspects of home building, remodeling, and other aspects of services available to help you in the future as well as more information on the above topic. So, you can see it is for your protection that you use a NCBIA member. If you are unsure that your contractor is a member of the NCBIA or you are looking for a list of NCBIA members, you can visit our website at www.ncbia.com or call 440-934-1090. We also have a job posting board (under the industry tab).

Visit our 24/7 Virtual Parade of Homes!!!  Allows you to look at some of our builders’ new homes and communities on your mobile device or computer at your leisure (including our remodelers) We know time is our greatest asset and via our NCBIA Virtual Parade of Homes, we save you time looking for a new home or a community that fits your lifestyle. The Virtual Parade of Homes is open online 24/7. Many of the homes featured in our Virtual Parade host regular open house hours for those consumers who are looking to tour the actual homes. You can click through to builder websites to see what they have to offer.

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