The recent uptick in the real estate market reminds us that the American dream of home ownership is alive and well. Many people experience a sense of pride and security knowing that their sanctuary actually belongs to them. If you find yourself scanning real estate listings and watching one virtual tour after another, it may be time for you to jump in. But before you do, you need to take a few steps to get prepared.
First step is to figure out what you can comfortably afford. The operative word here is comfortable – you won’t be enjoying that new home if coming up with the monthly expenses is a constant stretch. So establish the parameters. How much money do you have for a down payment; though larger loans might be available, the 20 percent formula is a good place to start. If you’ve got $100,000 to spare, you can consider that $500,000 house, $60,000 puts you in the $300,000 range.
Next step: the bank. Before you actually go house hunting, you need a mortgage pre-qualification letter from a lending institution. Start with a bank where you have an account. They will have you fill out an application and review your income and financial status. If you qualify for a mortgage, they will give you a letter to that effect.
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