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School districts are a big consideration for many families—one that many base their home-buying decisions on. You can obtain information about school systems by contacting the city or county school board. Your real estate agent also may be knowledgeable about schools in the area.
The lender considers your debt-to-income ratio, which is a comparison of your gross (pre-tax) income to housing and non-housing expenses. Non-housing expenses include such long-term debts as car or student loan payments, alimony, or child support. The lender also considers how much cash you are able to apply to your down payment and closing costs. Credit history, which can be obtained through a credit report is also factored when determining your maximum loan amount.
An inspector checks the safety of your potential new home. Home inspectors focus especially on the structure, construction, and mechanical systems of the house and will make you aware of only repairs that are needed. The inspector does not evaluate whether or not you are getting good value for your money. Generally, an inspector checks (and gives prices for repairs on): the electrical system, plumbing, waste disposal, water heater, insulation and ventilation, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, water source and quality, potential presence of pests, foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof. Be sure to hire a home inspector that is both qualified and experienced. It is a good idea to have an inspection before you sign a written offer since, once the deal is closed, you've bought the house “as is.” Or, you may want to include an inspection clause in the offer when negotiating for a home. An inspection clause gives you an “out” on buying the house if serious problems are found, or it gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. An inspection clause also can specify that the seller must fix the problem(s) before you purchase the house.

Deciding to purchase a home is a major decision for you and your family. You are doing the right thing by beginning with research. At Certainty Home Loans, we want to set our borrowers up for success, which is why our consultants are on hand to help you with your home buying considerations. Our experience in pairing thousands of families like yours with their dream homes has put us in a unique position to help you from the start. Here are some good indicators that you are financially ready to purchase a home:

•    A steady or reliable source of income such as a job or savings/investments
•    Regular employment or reliable source of income
•    A record of paying loans or bills without default
•    Long-term income to debt ratio makes it manageable to meet fixed and unexpected expenses
•    Money available for down payment and the ability to pay a mortgage and home insurance each month Begin by identifying what is important to you and your family.

First, identify a general geographic location that will suit your lifestyle. Location considerations include the logistics surrounding work commutes, school districts, and outdoor space. Next, look at what your home should provide you. How many bedrooms and bathrooms would be ideal? Do you need office or entertaining/guest space? Are you interested in construction a home, a move-in ready home, or a fixer upper? Next, meet with your Certainty Home Loans representative to lay the foundation for your loan. He or she will help you determine a feasible home budget based on your financial situation and goals. It is important to begin the home-buying process with your budget in mind. If you are a fan of the home-buying shows on networks such as HGTV, you’ve probably noticed that people always begin with the end in mind and shop only those homes that are close to their lifestyle and budgetary goals. Understanding your financial capabilities before you beginning your house hunt is essential and can only benefit you. You will be able to appropriately narrow your search, and you may quickly find out that when you are pre-approved for a home loan, you will likely move to the top of the list when multiple buyers are interested in a home and time is a factor for the seller. After researching neighborhoods or homes that meet your criteria, make an appointment with your Realtor® to view a few homes. Take your time, ask questions, and take photos (if permissible) in order to “revisit” the top homes on your list.

Look for a company with a history of financial stability and a reputation for customer satisfaction. Be sure to choose a company that gives helpful advice and that makes you feel comfortable. A lender that has the authority to approve and process your loan locally is preferable since it will be easier for you to monitor the status of your application and ask questions. Plus, it's beneficial when the lender knows home values and conditions in the local area. Do research and ask family, friends, and your real estate agent for recommendations. Go to the lender's office and interview the loan officer or manager. As lenders, we can tell you that while we are often busy, it is refreshing when a purchaser or potential client takes an interest in how we handle our business. Your initial impression is usually right. Be sure you are comfortable with the answers you receive to the questions you ask. If you visit with a loan officer on the phone or in person and are confused, it is best to keep interviewing until you find someone who can communicate with you clearly about the details of your transaction. Be cautious about selecting a lender who has the "lowest rate in town." Most lenders will vary only slightly from day to day in the interest rates they offer. Take all the extra time you need to shop for your lender. You will be up-close and personal with your lender for quite some time.
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