Bob Barcelos | Methuen Real Estate, Lawrence Real Estate, Andover Real Estate, Salem Real Estate


Generally, the length of the homebuying journey depends on the individual. In some instances, a buyer will purchase the first house that he or she views in-person. Or, in other cases, it may take a buyer several weeks or months to find a house that matches his or her expectations.

There is no need to rush the homebuying journey. But if you know what to expect when you pursue your dream house, you may be able to seamlessly navigate the property buying cycle.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you streamline the homebuying journey.

1. Establish Homebuying Criteria

If you know where you want to live and what you want to find in your ideal residence, you can tailor your house search accordingly. And as a result, you may be better equipped than other property buyers to discover a great house at an affordable price.

As you put together homebuying criteria, it is important to consider your long-term plans as well. For instance, if you enjoy city life and want to spend as much time as possible in the city, a house in the city may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you want to raise your family in a small town, you may want to hone your search to houses in small towns.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

A home purchase likely will require you to obtain a mortgage. Fortunately, banks and credit unions are available nationwide, and these financial institutions can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Meet with several banks and credit unions so you can learn about all of the mortgage options at your disposal. Then, you can select a mortgage and enter the real estate market with a budget in hand.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

If you're on the lookout for your dream home, you may want to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can keep you up to date about new residences that become available in your preferred cities and towns – and much more.

Typically, a real estate agent will do whatever it takes to help you find and buy your dream home. He or she initially will learn about your homebuying goals and develop a custom homebuying strategy for you. Next, a real estate agent will set up home showings and keep you informed about open house events. And if you discover your ideal residence, a real estate agent will help you craft an aggressive offer to purchase this house.

Let's not forget about a real estate agent's homebuying expertise, either. If you ever have concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent can respond to them. That way, you can gain the insights you need to make an informed home purchase.

Simplify the homebuying journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble finding and acquiring your dream house.


The homebuying process can be stressful, particularly for those who are purchasing a house for the first time. From the time it takes to find your "dream" home to the final closing, there may be many hurdles that you'll need to overcome to secure your ideal home. As such, it sometimes can be difficult for a first-time homebuyer to maintain a positive outlook during the most challenging times.

Lucky for you, we're here to help you remain calm, cool and collected throughout the entire homebuying cycle.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers maintain a positive outlook at each stage of the homebuying journey:

1. Establish Realistic Expectations

Although first-time homebuyers would like to believe the property buying journey will be quick and seamless, it is important to realize that problems can arise without notice. However, homebuyers who understand the ins and outs of purchasing a house should have no trouble identifying potential issues and minimizing their impact.

For example, a homebuyer who defines his or her ideal residence can narrow a home search accordingly. This homebuyer also will be able to check out a variety of houses based on assorted property buying criteria and boost his or her chances of discovering the perfect residence without delay.

A homebuyer who establishes realistic expectations will be ready for the worst-case scenarios too. And if this homebuyer submits an offer to purchase a home that ultimately gets rejected, he or she will remain confident and be ready to restart the homebuying cycle from stage one.

2. Become an Informed Homebuyer

A first-time homebuyer who learns about the housing market can improve his or her chances of getting the best possible results.

Allocating the necessary time and resources to understand the differences between a buyer's market and a seller's market, for instance, can make a world of difference for any homebuyer, at any time.

Furthermore, an informed homebuyer may be more likely than others to get pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, this property buyer can set a budget for his or her home search and increase the likelihood of securing a terrific house at an affordable price.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to purchasing a home for the first time, why should a homebuyer leave anything to chance? Instead, a homebuyer can work with a real estate agent to reduce the risk of potential pitfalls throughout the homebuying cycle.

A real estate agent is happy to respond to a homebuyer's concerns and questions as the property buying journey progresses. This housing market professional will even help a homebuyer maintain a positive outlook, regardless of what happens. That way, a real estate agent can assist a homebuyer through both good times and bad and ensure a property buyer can purchase a first-rate house that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.

Take advantage of these tips, and any first-time homebuyer can keep things positive at each stage of the homebuying cycle.


As the workforce changes and a growing number of companies seek out contractors and freelancers, many Americans find themselves in a gray area when it comes to their income. They may put in full-time hours, but on their taxes they work for themselves.

Mortgage lenders are cautious about who they lend to. They want to make sure you are a low-risk investment who has reliable, predictable income to ensure that they’ll earn money off of your loan.

This can sometimes make it difficult for freelancers, contract workers, or the self-employed. Not only might your taxes be unconventional, but your income could vary depending on the time of the year and the amount of business you receive.

It’s easy to see why many people would be anxious about applying for a mortgage under these circumstances. However, if you’re self-employed, there’s no need to worry. You can still get approved for a mortgage at a fair interest rate--you just need to do a bit of work to provide the right documents to your lender.

In this article, we’ll show you what documents and proof of income you’ll likely need and how to present it to a lender to make the process run as smoothly as possible to get you approved for your mortgage. Here’s what you need to do.

Organize your records

Before applying for a mortgage, it’s a good idea to take a look at your record-keeping process. As a self-employed worker, you’re probably already used to tracking your own income. However, this will help the lender analyze your income easier and move the process along more quickly.

Having a master spreadsheet of your dated invoices, paid amounts, and the names of your clients is a good place to start. You’ll also want detailed, easy to read information for your previous employers, landlords, references, and any other information you think will be pertinent.

Next, gather your tax documents for the last three to five years. As a self-employed worker, you likely file a Schedule C (Form 1040) and a Schedule SE. Make sure you have copies of these forms.

Dealing with deductions

Many self-employed workers write off business expenses in their tax returns. Travel expenses, internet, and other costs associated with doing business are all ways to save by reducing your taxable income. Doing so can save you money, but it can also reduce your net income which is what lenders will see when you provide them with your information.

If you’re hoping to get approved for a bigger loan, one solution is to plan your taxes in the year prior to applying for a mortgage. Make fewer deductions than you normally would to increase your net income.

Be ready to clarify

When a mortgage lender is reviewing your information, make sure you are open and available to provide any information that can be helpful to them in considering your application. Being prompt and accurate with your responses will signal to your lender that you are willing to work with them.


Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re upgrading to a larger house to fit your family’s needs, it’s vital to understand just how much house you can afford before you start shopping for homes.

When planning for your future home, there are two main things you need to figure out.

  • What is a smart amount to spend on a home for your budget

  • What are the key features in a home that will give you the most benefits for the cost

These two questions may seem simple, but there are quite a few factors that should go into determining each one.

So, in today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the process of determining what kind of house you can afford so you can make the best home buying decision for you and your family.

A smart home buying budget

To create an effective budget, you’ll need to gather some information and possibly create a spreadsheet with Excel (or a free alternative like Google Sheets).

On your spreadsheet, you’ll first want to add up all sources of income that your family has. This is the easy part for most people who only have one or two sources of income based on a salaried job.

Next, is the hard part--expenses. We can’t just use your current expenses to determine the new budget because we have to account for changes in several areas.

If you aren’t sure of the cost of living for the area you hope to move to, try plugging it into this cost of living comparison tool to see get a better idea of the cost of things like transportation, childcare, groceries, and more.

Likewise, it’s also a good idea to assume you’ll be paying more in utilities if you’re hoping to move into a home that is larger than your current home. Keep in mind, however, that different houses have different levels of energy-efficiency, so it’s a good idea to also ask the seller of the homes you’re interested in to determine what your costs might be.

Now, subtract your expenses from your income. The amount remaining should easily cover whatever mortgage payment you receive along with, ideally, 20% of your income going toward savings.

Deciding what you need in a home

The second part of determining how much house you can afford is to find out exactly what you’re looking for in a home. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location, the size of the backyard; all of these are questions that have a monetary value.

So, to really answer this question you’ll need a strong understanding of what you and your family’s goals are for at least the next 5-7 years, if not longer.

Once you have your long-term goals and a good understanding of your budget, you can start safely shopping for homes with a clearer idea of the type of home you’re looking for and just how much home you can afford.


If you’re looking to buy a new home anytime soon, getting your finances in order is an excellent first step to getting the keys to your dream property. No matter where you want to buy a home, your financial picture is the most critical aspect of buying a home. Read on for some tips to get you financially prepared to buy a house.


Set A Savings Goal


Buying a property will require a significant amount of money up front. From closing costs to the down payment, you need to set a specific amount to save up before you even get out on the house hunt. 


Break your savings goal down by month over a yearly number if you have multiple years before you buy. 


Have A Specific Account For Savings


If you don’t see it, you won’t spend it. Tuck all of your savings in one account. Use automatic transfers to make saving from your paycheck easier and seamless. Before you even check your account, you’re on your way to your savings goals. You may not want to keep your money in higher yield accounts. These may not allow you to take the money out when you need it. Take the time to shop interest rates on savings accounts at different banks. Some may even offer a bonus. Just remember always to pay yourself first. Don’t be tempted to spend the money that you have saved.    


Rethink Your Budget


Depending on the amount that you want to save to buy a home, you may need to cut costs significantly. Take the time to do a budget and see where you may be able to cut down on costs. Should you cut the cord on cable? Are you going out to restaurants too often? Another idea is to call your phone company and other utility providers and ask about discounts. You may need to make some lifestyle and budgeting adjustments in order to get on your way to your dream home.


Use Gifts Wisely


Did you get a big Christmas bonus from work? Did a relative give you a monetary gift for your birthday? Take all of the extra cash and stash it away in the account that’s dedicated to your home savings. It will only help you to achieve your goals faster.


Keep Your Accounts Stable


Before your loan can close and the keys to your dream home are yours, you’ll need to make sure you don’t make any significant purchases. You need a paper trail for all of your money. Before you buy a home is not the time to go nuts and buy furniture or buy a car. These things can affect both your credit and debt-to-income-ratio.   

      





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