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Looking for a home can be stressful and daunting. But there are things you can do to decrease your stress level and make the home buying process easier. Before you even think about what kind of home you want, you have to decide on what kind of home you need. Doing this will narrow down the number of houses you look at and will save you valuable time. At the same time, you should make a list of things you don't want in a home so that you don't waste time looking at houses that don't fit your needs or your budget.
Where do you want to live?
If you have your own family, what kind of schools you want your children to go to? How important is it to you to be close to the highway or public transportation, shopping, work, hospitals, entertainment, community amenities?
How long do you expect to live in your new home?
Put these items on your list in order of importance. For instance, a large kitchen may be more important to you than a fireplace. Remember, your list should be somewhat flexible in case you can't find a home in your price range with all the amenities you need or want.
Fixed-rate mortgages have a fixed interest rate over the term of the loan. Most people opt for 30-year terms, but 15- and 20-year terms are available. The biggest advantage of a fixed-rate mortgage is that your interest rate and monthly payment do not change over the term of the loan. However, if interest rates happen to fall below your current fixed rate, you may be "locked in" to a higher rate and should consider refinancing .
Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) usually start with a lower interest rate than a fixed-rate mortgage for an introductory period-typically one, three, five or seven years. After that initial introductory period, the rate adjusts-usually annually-based on a pre-determined index . As a result, the interest rate on your loan and the monthly payment will rise and fall with increases and decreases in overall interest rates. An interest rate cap limits the amount by which the interest rate can change. An ARM is a good choice if you're expecting to live in your home for seven years or less and it may also allow you to borrow a larger loan amount.
The down payment is the amount you plan to pay up front, in cash, when you buy a home. It is typically the difference between how much you borrow and the purchase price of your home. To avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), a 20 percent down payment is usually required. However, lenders like Quicken Loans offer many low and no down payment loans.