The traditional way to buy a house is through a real estate agent (although more people are using the Internet to buy and sell and to eliminate Realtor fees). If you chose to go with a real estate agent, look for:
The first thing you need is your credit report (see section on Finances on establishing a credit report), which you can get at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1.877.322.8228. To determine what you can afford, the next step is to talk with a “loan originator,” which a real estate expert or banker can arrange at a bank or mortgage company. There should be no charge for this meeting. Also, this meeting with the loan originator does not mean you have to use that bank or mortgage company.
The loan originator and your Realtor should have extensive knowledge about special grants and governmental programs that can help you with a down payment or lower interest rates, such as the First Home and First Home Plus programs.
If you buy your home, expenses can include:
It is very important to know whether you are obligated for any debt: debts can include credit cards, car payments, home loans, car titles, insurance, etc. Contact the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) if you need assistance with budgeting or credit issues, or if you would like to learn more about their affordable home ownership programs. http://www.iowafinanceauthority.gov/Programs/AffordableHomeownership
If you are buying a home or condo, spend lots of time looking. Even if it’s tiring, look, ask questions, and understand what a fair price in the community is. Then don’t be afraid to put a bid in lower that the asking price; in fact, it is a standard practice to do so.
If you write a check as a deposit to buy a house, go to the house to make sure everything looks the same as when you looked at it earlier. You may want to take someone with you who is familiar with plumbing, heating, and air conditioning to make sure everything is in working order. If you find things have changed since you looked at the house, you can put a stop order on your check.
Rather than depending upon you or friends to see if something is wrong, give serious consideration to hiring a Home Inspector before you sign an offer: once the deal is closed you’ve bought the house “as is.” An inspection clause gives you an “out” on buying the house if serious problems are found, or gives you the ability to renegotiate the purchase price if repairs are needed. An inspection clause can also specify that the seller must fix the problem(s) before you purchase the house.
Generally, an inspector checks and gives prices for repairs on: the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, the HVAC system, water source and quality, the potential presence of pests, the foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors, and roof. Be sure to hire a home inspector that is qualified and experienced.
HUD offers many reduced-rate housing options all around Iowa, and are constantly building new structures, while continuing to serve the community. You may find out more about HUD’s building projects here: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/iowa