Springing into Your new home


Contributed to the Times

Spring and summer are the traditional hot seasons for home sales. What is behind this trend and how can you make the most of it if you are planning to buy a home?

Many home buyers, especially those with school-aged children, prefer to plan their move around the summer. By starting the homebuying process in spring, they hope that the youngsters can finish the year at their current school and start fresh at their new school in the fall.

In addition to the children, shoppers can also thank the Internal Revenue Service. Tax refund checks start hitting mailboxes in spring. For people in the market for a new home, a tax refund is an added bonus that they can put towards the down payment.

If youre one of the many millions of Americans buying a home this season, youd probably prefer to make the move as smooth as possible. The secret to success is starting early.

From searching and touring houses to the negotiation, home inspection and closing, buying the home that perfectly fits your needs can take a lot of time, especially if you dont know the process, says Frank Destra, managing director and senior vice president of national sales for Ditech, one of the nations leading online mortgage lenders. By learning and understanding the steps in buying a home, you will be ready to go through the process and complete it efficiently so you can soon begin enjoying your new home.

Here are some ways to help make your spring or summer move stress-free.

1) Review You Credit Report. Whether this is your first or your tenth time buying a home, it is always in your best interest to keep an eye on your credit report to make sure your credit history is accurately reported. Your credit history has an impact on what loans you can qualify for as well as the interest rate you will be offered. Report any errors to the credit reporting agencies right away, so that your credit report is accurate when youre ready to apply for home financing.

2) Get pre-approved. Getting pre-approved is one of the first steps in the home buying process. By getting pre-approved, you will receive a loan commitment for up to a certain amount from your lender before you find a home, based on a review of your credit and finances. Pre-approval makes your home search more efficient by allowing you to focus only on the homes you know you can afford. It also is beneficial to have a pre-approval letter in your possession when you submit an offer on a home, so the seller knows you are serious about buying the home.

3) Know what you want. Sitting down and figuring out what kind of home and neighborhood you would prefer in the beginning of your home search will save you a lot of time. Make a list of the features that are most important to you. Start with determining the number of bedrooms and bathrooms as well as other personal requirements you might have such as an office versus a den, one or two stories, etc. Also, think resale before you ever set foot in a home. The neighborhood, schools, parks, shopping, transportation accessibility, and proximity to key points in the city are all characteristics that will remain important when you decide to sell your home at some point in the future.

4) Review financing solutions. There are a variety of financing options available to homebuyers, and your particular situation will play a factor in figuring out what financing solution might work best for you. An experienced loan officer will take the time to review the home financing process, define terms, and listen to your concerns to get you a loan that fits your needs. In addition, home lenders such as Ditech (www.ditech.com) offer a number of online resources, such as payment calculators, glossaries, etc. to help homebuyers better understand which financing options might be right for them.

5) Negotiate. Once you find the home of your dreams, work with a real estate agent to negotiate the price and present your offer. Motivated sellers may be willing to reduce their price, or even pay part of the closing costs. Also, if you are looking at new construction, make sure any incentives being offered are tied to the home. For example, if a builder offers a cruise or flat-screen TV, ask for the value of the item to be discounted from the purchase price of the home. You are purchasing a home and that should be your focus — not the giveaways.