Five basic steps to making a house your home

Five%20basic%20steps%20to%20making%20a%20house%20your%20homeOwning a home remains a key element of the American Dream. In fact, a recent survey by TD Bank revealed that 84 percent of young renters (ages 18 to 34) intend to buy a home in the future. While it is exciting, home buying can be overwhelming and complicated if you don't have a general knowledge of the process. 
Equipping yourself with the right tools will allow you to navigate the complexities of the home-buying process. Here are five helpful steps to follow on your way to homeownership.
Step 1: Learn the home-buying ABCs: Build your homeownership knowledge by participating in a first-time homebuyer class in your community to answer any questions you may have.
Step 2: Get out your calculator: Owning a home requires a large investment of time, energy and money, so make sure you are careful when making the decision to buy. If you're like 43 percent of survey respondents, staying within budget is the top consideration. It is important to determine how much you can afford – you don't want to fall in love with a house out of your reach. When applying for a mortgage, the bank will assess your debt to income ratio. By looking at your income and current monthly debts, you can determine your ideal monthly payment. From there, you'll be able to narrow the focus of your house search to homes in your price range. Be sure to include down payments and other upfront costs in your calculations.
Use the mortgage calculator in the side bar for help.
Step 3: Shop wisely: Condo? Single-family home? A fixer-upper or new construction? Once you know how much you can afford, determining your housing needs – and selecting a qualified real estate professional – before you start looking, will help make finding your perfect home much less time-consuming. Click here for help in hiring the right Realtor. In addition to being able to answer any questions that come up during the process, a real estate professional will work on your behalf to pre-screen houses and guide you through negotiations.
Step 4: Pick your perfect match: According to the survey, getting a mortgage is still the most common way buyers buy. With the variety of mortgage products that exists today, it's essential you choose the right one for your needs. How long do you plan on living in this house? Do you plan on making improvements to the home? Answering these types of questions will help you hone in on your financial strategy. Finding the right mortgage is about more than a rate and terms – it's about finding the right financial partner. Don't get led down the wrong path by choosing a bank that doesn't provide flexible options. Look for a bank that offers a hassle-free mortgage guarantee to ensure your first home purchase is as smooth and worry-free as possible.
Step 5: Sign on the dotted line: Once your home has been inspected, your contingencies have been met and your mortgage has been approved, it's time to close the deal. In most cases, a closing officer will be present during closing. As the buyer, you will bring a certified or cashier's check for your down payment and closing costs. The escrow officer will go through all the paperwork you will sign and fees you are charged. Remember to ask questions during the closing, as the closing officer is there to help.
After you've signed all documents and paid your closing costs and the sale is recorded at the courthouse, the sale is complete. Congratulations and enjoy your new home.