Tips for buying a home

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PHOENIX – If you are trying to buy a house, the prices are great right now. That means many first-time home buyers are going to be in the market.

Jonathan Carney of Take Charge America says if you’re considering buying a house, there are several things you should be doing right now.

The first step is to build a budget because there’s more to consider than just the mortgage payment.

“You need to bring closing costs, as well as a down payment to the exchange,” he explained.

Another thing to consider is the cost of utilities. If you’re going from an apartment to a house, those costs can be dramatically different, especially if you’re going to be taking on a swimming pool.

You also need to look ahead so you can be prepared for other maintenance costs and issues that might come up. Many homes might require some work early on so you want to make sure that’s something you’re able – and willing – to cover.

“You don’t want to purchase a money pit,” Carney said.

Once you have your budget set, you need to determine exactly where you want to live. There are several considerations here, including proximity to work and school, proximity to freeways and mass transportation, safety of the area, school districts and recreational areas. It’s always a good idea to drive through any neighborhood you are considering, both in the morning and at night. It’s also good to check it out during the week and on the weekend.

“You’re going to see a different environment each time,” Carney said.

When it comes to the house itself, plan to take notes and even photos.

“With the level of short sales that out there now, there is a strong chance that the house you’re looking at may have some damage to it,” he said.

Some of the key points to look at are the foundation under the garage, interior and exterior paint, the area under the sinks, water leaks or damage, structural problems, and issues with the floor coverings. You also need to check for termites and other pests.

While some problems are more serious than others, all of them could cost you money.

“As a homeowner, you now take on that responsibility, taking care of any home repairs needed,” Carney said.

Take Charge American is hosting a free course on the home-buying process on Saturday July 23.

“We start at assessing your readiness to buy a home all the way down through protecting your investment,” Carney said. “When you buy a home, it’s a long-term investment – generally 30 years.”

A home is the biggest purchase most people will ever make. As exciting as buying a house – especially a first home – can be, it can also be quite daunting and more than a little bit scary.

To RSVP to the free event, email Take Charge America is located at 20620 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix.