Buying a Home in Kansas

By Examine Current Housing Market Conditions in Wichita, KS on

Purchasing a home, whether it's your first or one that fits your changing needs better, is both an emotional and financial investment

The home-buying process can take several months to several years, depending upon your needs, budget, and local market conditions. Before you start looking at homes, there are a few preparation steps and factors you'll need to consider. Purchasing a home, whether it's your first or one that fits your changing needs better, is both an emotional and financial investment. Checking out new listings is one way to quickly assess what types of homes are available and what average market prices are for different neighborhoods. 

Examine Current Housing Market Conditions in Wichita, KS

Although it's common knowledge that real estate values fluctuate according to location, there are a few things to look at within Wichita before you start the search for your next home. First, does the housing market currently favor sellers or buyers? Or is it neutral? In a seller's market, there will be less inventory, asking prices will be higher, and homes will often receive multiple offers faster. 

As a buyer in a seller's market, you may get outbid on your top, second, or even third choice for a new home. You'll probably also need to be willing to compromise on more things on your list of desirable features or top neighborhoods. In a seller's market, be prepared to be willing to waive some contingencies, submit bids over asking prices, or be ready to submit offers more quickly. 

Other factors to consider are whether home values are depreciating, remaining stable, or appreciating. A licensed Realtor can help you assess home value trends for specific neighborhoods and the overall area. However, you may also be able to find this data on your own online. You'll also want to examine average mortgage interest rates for the area, considering both 15-year and 30-year loan terms. 

Determine Your Budget and Finances

Before you can consider homes and make an offer, you'll need to figure out how much you can afford. Will you need to take out a loan or can you afford to make a cash offer? If you'll be taking out a mortgage, how much do you have saved for a down payment and closing costs? For conventional loans, you'll need to put down at least 20 percent of the home's value to avoid paying additional private mortgage insurance (PMI) as part of your monthly mortgage payment. You'll also need to count on spending two to five percent of the home's purchase price in closing costs. 

In addition to a down payment and closing costs, you'll need enough funds available for earnest money when you submit an offer. This amount counts towards your down payment once you close on your home, but it serves as a means of assurance for the seller that you're sincere about buying the home. Earnest money usually represents about one percent of the purchase price. You may also need to pay an appraisal and inspection fee upfront.  

Most importantly, you'll need to determine how much you can afford to pay each month. This includes your mortgage, any homeowner's association fees, utilities, and maintenance costs. Aim to keep your monthly mortgage payment at or below 30 percent of your income. You can figure out how much home you can afford by adding up all your financial obligations, determining how much you have left for housing, and using online calculators to estimate mortgage payments based on the purchase price, down payment, interest rates, and loan terms. 

Besides these considerations, you'll want to know your credit score. A higher FICO score will help you get the lowest interest rates and give you a better chance of approval. Before you choose a Realtor or look at homes, you'll want to get a letter of preapproval from a lender verifying how much home you can reasonably afford. 

Get an Agent

Although anyone can look at homes online or attend open houses, you'll need to work with a Realtor for private showings and help you navigate through the legal aspects of buying a home. A Realtor can also send you home listings based on your criteria as new homes come on the market. To find a good agent, you can ask friends, family, and co-workers for recommendations. You can also perform a Google search for agents in the Wichita area or contact local Realtor associations. 

When deciding on an agent, it's okay to meet with several of them and find out whether their style matches your needs. Assess how well they listen to what you want and need in a home and whether they genuinely seem interested in helping you. You can also consult online reviews and testimonials or ask for references before signing an agreement.    

Prioritize Your Criteria

Before you meet with and interview agents, make a list of the features you need to have in a home and the characteristics that would be nice to have. Whether there's a lot of available homes for sale or not enough to meet demand, you will likely have to compromise on a few items. For instance, is a neighborhood more important than a gas fireplace? Is the number of bedrooms and bathrooms flexible or do you absolutely need a specific number of each? 

You'll also want to consider the condition and ages of homes in your criteria. Are you willing to only purchase new construction or are you open to resales within a specific age range or resales that have been updated within the past few years? Is a home that needs some work unacceptable or are you willing to make a few repairs and upgrades from the start?

Look at Homes and Make an Offer

Once you've got your preapproval letter in hand and a Realtor by your side that knows your needs, you can start looking at homes. Once you've narrowed down your list of available homes to two or three, you may want to take a second look and get the advice of your agent, family, or friends. Consider a combination of emotional and practical factors, as finding the right balance between the two is essential to making an offer on the home that's perfect for you. 

If you're looking for an experienced agent, consider Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty. We represent buyers and sellers in the Kansas market while ensuring your home-buying experience is as hassle-free as possible. Our agents have extensive knowledge and are ready to help you find the right place to call home. 

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