Whether you’re tired of rental life or you’re moving to a new town, buying a new home can be stressful – especially in a big city like Atlanta. There are tons of diverse neighborhoods and various things to do around the city. You’ll feel like you don’t want to miss out on any of it! However, the most important part of your move will be deciding what’s right for you. So, here are 12 tips for buying a home in Atlanta to get you started.
12 tips for buying a home in Atlanta.
1. Take a look at your credit
If you’re just starting to consider buying a house, you’ll have to take a look at your credit score. Your credit score is not only going to affect the type of mortgage loan you can get, but it can have an effect on your insurance score.
To make sure that you get the best mortgage and home insurance rates possible, check to make sure that everything on your credit report is accurate. Get a free credit report from one of the major U.S. credit reporting bureaus. If anything is misreported, reach out to the proper financial institutions to have the mistakes corrected. Work on paying off any bills you may have and avoid using credit cards to keep your balances low.
2. Save up for your down payment and closing costs
Homebuyers usually don’t have enough to pay for their entire house in one go. However, to get approved for a mortgage, you’ll usually need some sort of down payment. Depending on the lender, you could expect to put down anywhere from 3-20% of the home’s value.
You’ll also have to factor in closing costs. In Georgia, these costs can range anywhere from 3-5% of the home’s value. So, for a $300,000 house, you may need to be prepared to pay at least $18,000 upfront for a down payment and closing costs. So, make sure you have enough saved before you start looking!
3. Have enough money for other expenses
There are numerous other expenses that go into purchasing a home. So, it’s a good idea to save up for things like inspections, appraisals, HOA fees, and insurance. Plus, you’ll want to have enough money saved up to handle any emergencies or necessary repairs that come up. There’s no guarantee that the home sellers will agree to handle these costs for you if you choose to put an offer on their home.
4. Get preapproved for a mortgage loan
Many banks and financial institutions can tell you if you’ll be approved for a mortgage before you actually apply. While the true amount of your approved mortgage may vary, you can at least get an estimate of your home buying budget.
5. Know what you can afford long-term
Just because you’re approved for a certain amount on a mortgage loan doesn’t mean you should use all of that money. Carefully consider what kind of monthly payment you can afford and use that number to find a house with a price you’ll be comfortable with.
6. Make a list of what you want in a house
Know what you’re looking for in a house before you set out buying a home. Do you want older or new construction? Hardwood floors or is carpeting okay? Do you want a house that’s move-in ready or are you okay with a fixer-upper? Making a list of things that you absolutely want in a house can be key in targeting homes that will work for you long-term.
It’s also important, though, to make a list of things that aren’t necessarily deal breakers. Focus on the things that you can’t change first (i.e. location, square footage, etc.), and think about if you’re willing to renovate the other features that you’re not a fan of later.
7. Research different neighborhoods in Atlanta
Cities both inside and outside of the I-285 perimeter have their own distinctive communities. If you like local art and small shops instead of big chain stores, you may feel more comfortable in Decatur. If you’re not so much a fan of the city, try downtown Marietta. Looking for a variety of cultural markets and restaurants? Try Doraville or Duluth. If you like upscale stores with a modern look, try Sandy Springs or Alpharetta.
There are tons of different neighborhoods that locals know and love for different things, and most of the suburbs around Atlanta are within close driving distance to the city center. So, research a few locations to see where you’ll be most comfortable. It may even be a better idea to base your home search off of your work commute. In Atlanta rush-hour traffic, it can take double the time to get to your destination. So, plan accordingly.
8. Think of buying a home as a long-term investment, not a short-term purchase
Buying a home is a big step from renting. So, the features you consider when buying a house should be different as well. Consider how a home will fit your needs in the next five to 10 years. If you want to start a big family, a two-bedroom/two-bathroom home may suit you now, but not as your family grows. It may also not be beneficial to buy a home within the busier parts of the city.
Of course, things happen, and you can always sell your home to accommodate life changes. Just make sure you have a solid starting point as you search.
9. Make the most of touring places and open houses
When touring places and attending open houses, feel free to ask your realtor tons of questions. Take notes about your first impressions and information you may need to make a decision. Gather brochures and weigh the pros and cons of the house that you see in person. Memory can get a bit jumbled so it’s important to note and express things that come to mind in the moment as well as after you’ve had time to think about a property.
10. Get a home inspection
Before you buy a house, schedule a home inspection from a reputable company. There’s usually a grace period after an offer is made on the home where a seller will allow the buyer to uncover any issues. The seller may adjust the price accordingly or pay for the damages. So, make sure that a qualified home inspector is able to check out things like the home’s roof, plumbing, electrical system, and foundation before you purchase the home. Doing so could save you a lot of headache and expensive repair bills in the future.
11. Keep saving to build an emergency fund
Saving up shouldn’t stop after actually buying a home. There are a number of issues and upkeep expenses that may come up throughout the years you’re living in the home. So, continue to save up for things like renovations, repairs, inspections, permits, and other expenses that may be a part of homeownership.
Additionally, make sure that you have enough saved up to cover your homeowners’ insurance deductible if you have to file a claim. There’s a certain amount that your insurance carrier will require you to pay before they start paying for any covered loss. So, it can give you a lot more peace of mind to already have a backup fund to handle this amount.
12. Get the right home insurance
Finally, you’ll want to have the right homeowners’ policy to properly protect your home. Consider the different risks you face in your area, and express those concerns to your insurance agent. Make sure that your policy can rebuild your home’s structure and replace your belongings if a disaster hits. Pick a policy that can cover you if someone is hurt on your property – even if it’s a worker. Plan to add extra coverages depending on the various features of your home and any life changes that you may go through.
It also helps to shop around for coverage. Different insurance companies assess risks in different ways; plus, rates and discounts can vary from carrier to carrier. We know how hard it can be to get home insurance quotes on your own, though. That’s why our insurance experts are here to help! Give us a call today, fill out our online form, or LiveChat with an agent today to start getting free, easy homeowners’ insurance quotes.