The Ultimate Guide to Buying a House in Wichita, Kansas Table of Contents Toggle Buying a Home in Wichita, KansasThe First Step: Getting Pre-Approved.Factors of preapprovalFinding a Real Estate AgentWhen to house hunt?Where to house hunt?Neighborhoods in WichitaSurrounding AreasYou found a home and are under contract, now what?Understanding a Real Estate ContractHome Inspections and AppraisalsClosing CostsProperty TaxesConclusion Buying a Home in Wichita, Kansas Whether you’re a seasoned real estate investor or a first-time homebuyer, this article aims to be your trusted companion on the exciting journey of purchasing a home in Wichita, Kansas. We’ve got you covered with invaluable tips, expert advice, and insider knowledge to help you navigate the complexities of the Wichita housing market with confidence. From charming historic districts to modern suburban neighborhoods, Wichita offers a diverse array of housing options to suit every taste and budget. We will take you on a tour of the city’s most sought-after areas, providing in-depth insights into the local real estate trends and the factors that influence property prices all while guiding you through the entire home-buying process, from securing financing and negotiating offers, to conducting inspections and closing the deal. Whether you’re seeking a family-friendly community, a bustling urban oasis, or a serene rural retreat, our goal is to walk you through each step of homebuying with all the essential information so that you can make the best decisions for you. The First Step: Getting Pre-Approved. It’s recommended to start the homebuying process by getting a pre-approval letter. Here at JR Mortgage, we can get this to you today! What getting a pre-approval letter involves is giving us a snapshot of your financial situation. This pre-approval letter will give you the max amount you can afford to spend on a home, allowing you to narrow down your search to properties that fit within your budget and save time during the house-hunting process. Once you are pre-approved for a loan, you can begin the house-hunting process. Most realtors will not start showing houses until you are pre-approved. Your pre-approval letter can also be used to demonstrate to sellers that you are a serious buyer who is ready and able to secure financing for the purchase. Get Your Pre-Approval Today! Factors of preapproval Credit Score Different types of mortgage loans have different minimum credit score requirements; for example, conventional loans require a minimum of 620, and FHA loans require 580. However, lenders may have additional requirements and may be more selective based on other factors, such as your debt-to-income ratio and employment history. To raise your credit score, you should pay your bills on time, reduce your debt, avoid applying for new credit, and check your credit report regularly. It is important to start thinking about your credit score early if you are considering buying a home, as improving your credit score can take time. You can check your credit score for free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Reviewing your credit report regularly is essential to ensure its accuracy and update it if necessary. If you notice any errors or inaccuracies, you can dispute them with the credit reporting agency. Debt-to-Income Ratio Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is a critical factor to consider when planning to buy a home. It is a simple calculation that measures the percentage of your monthly gross income that goes towards paying off debt. In simple terms, it shows how much of your monthly income is spent on repaying debts, such as credit card bills, student loans, car loans, and other monthly payments. When buying a home, DTI ratio is used to determine your ability to afford mortgage payments. Lenders use DTI ratio to evaluate a borrower’s ability to repay the mortgage loan. In general, lenders prefer borrowers with lower DTI ratios, as it indicates that the borrower has a higher chance of meeting their monthly mortgage payments. Typically, lenders use two types of DTI ratios to evaluate your creditworthiness: the front-end ratio and the back-end ratio. The front-end ratio, also known as the housing ratio, measures the percentage of your gross monthly income that goes towards paying your mortgage principal, interest, property taxes, and insurance (PITI). The back-end ratio, on the other hand, measures the percentage of your gross monthly income that goes towards paying off all your monthly debt obligations, including your mortgage payments. Generally, lenders prefer a front-end ratio of 28% or less and a back-end ratio of 36% or less. If your DTI ratio is too high, you may find it difficult to obtain a mortgage, or the interest rates you qualify for may be higher than those with lower DTI ratios. To improve your DTI ratio, you can focus on reducing your monthly debt payments by paying off outstanding debts, consolidating loans, or increasing your income. Down Payment A down payment is a lump sum of money that you pay upfront when purchasing a property. Typically, it’s a percentage of the total purchase price, and the amount required will depend on the type of mortgage you choose and the lender’s requirements. The significance of a down payment cannot be overstated, as it can impact your mortgage terms and monthly payments. Generally, the larger your down payment, the lower your monthly payments will be, since you will be borrowing less money from the lender. Additionally, putting more money down can also help you secure a better interest rate, which will save you money over the life of your loan. In Wichita, the median home price is around $150,000, so a typical down payment would be around $30,000, assuming a 20% down payment. However, most of our clients put anywhere from 0% down to 10% down depending on the loan program. On most loan programs, a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price will require mortgage insurance; an additional monthly cost incurred until you reach 20% equity in the home to protect the lender in case of default. Talk to your loan officer to fully understand as each situation is different and unique. Finding a Real Estate Agent Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer taking your first step into the real estate market or a seasoned home-buying professional with multiple purchases under your belt, using a real estate agent can be an invaluable asset throughout the entire process. Real estate transactions can be daunting, and having a knowledgeable and experienced professional by your side can make a significant difference in achieving your goals and ensuring a smooth and successful purchase. For first-time homebuyers, a real estate agent can be your trusted guide, offering expert advice and helping you understand the nuances of the market. They will take the time to understand your preferences, budget, and lifestyle requirements to match you with properties that truly suit your needs. Furthermore, a real estate agent can assist with mortgage pre-approval, saving you time and energy by ensuring you’re looking at properties within your budget and increasing your chances of securing a loan. Even for seasoned home-buying professionals, engaging a real estate agent remains a wise decision. While you may have experience in the real estate market, a professional agent has access to a vast network of properties, off-market deals, and industry insights that can open up new possibilities and investment opportunities. Their negotiation skills can be instrumental in getting you the best possible price, terms, and conditions, potentially saving you thousands of dollars. Moreover, a real estate agent handles the paperwork and administrative tasks, reducing the stress and streamlining the entire buying process, allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your life. Using a real estate agent can also provide peace of mind and confidence in your purchase. Agents work in your best interest, advocating for you throughout the process and ensuring that your rights are protected. Their deep understanding of the local market and trends empowers them to make informed recommendations, guiding you away from potential pitfalls and towards the best investment decisions. In the end, the expertise and support of a real estate agent can turn a potentially stressful and overwhelming experience into an exciting and rewarding journey to finding your dream home or making a sound investment. Having trouble finding one? Here at JR Mortgage, we have a variety of trusted realtors we work with that we can refer you to during the pre-approval process if you do not already have an agent. Find an Agent When to house hunt? The best time to look for a house can vary depending on a variety of factors, including market trends, pricing averages, and local economic conditions. Here in Wichita, according to Zillow, the best time to buy a house tends to be in the winter months, particularly in January or February. During this time, there tends to be less competition among buyers, leading to lower prices and more negotiating power for buyers. Additionally, market trends can play a significant role in the best time to look for a house. In a buyer’s market, where there are more homes for sale than there are buyers, it may be easier to find a home that meets your needs and negotiate a favorable price. On the other hand, in a seller’s market, where there are more buyers than there are homes for sale, it may be more challenging to find a suitable property and prices may be higher. A seller’s market is defined as a market where inventory levels are less than 3 months’ supply, while a buyer’s market is defined as a market where inventory levels are greater than 6 months’ supply. Overall, it’s important to approach the homebuying process strategically and with a clear understanding of market trends and pricing averages. While certain times of year may offer more favorable conditions for buyers, it’s important to prioritize finding a home that meets your needs and fits within your budget, regardless of market conditions. Interested in potentially building instead of buying? Check out our blog on whether you should build or buy a house in Wichita. We also recommend following up with a trusted real estate agent who has expertise in the local market to see what’s right for you. Where to house hunt? When considering buying a house in Wichita, the first step is to choose the neighborhood that suits your preferences. Wichita boasts a diverse range of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character and allure. Notably, Eastborough, an autonomous city within Wichita, stands out with its independent police department, municipal court, city hall, and mayor. Let’s explore the main neighborhoods in Wichita that you should consider for your future home. Neighborhoods in Wichita Delano If you desire a vibrant and lively community, the Delano neighborhood is an excellent choice. Currently experiencing rapid growth, Delano is renowned for its historic architecture, trendy cafes, and boutique shops. Situated just west of downtown Wichita, it is separated by the Arkansas River flowing from North to South. Eastborough For a more relaxed and upscale suburban ambiance, Eastborough might be the perfect fit. Despite being an autonomous city surrounded by Wichita, it offers a serene environment with tree-lined streets, spacious homes, and serene parks, providing a delightful escape from the urban bustle. College Hill Heading east from downtown, the College Hill neighborhood appeals to both families and young professionals. With its charming Victorian-era homes, picturesque tree-lined streets, and top-notch public schools, College Hill is an ideal place to raise a family. Additionally, the neighborhood is renowned for its extravagant Halloween decorations, drawing crowds for trick-or-treating on its cobblestone streets. Riverside As its name suggests, Riverside is situated directly along the banks of the Arkansas River. For outdoor enthusiasts, this neighborhood is a top choice, offering numerous parks, including Oak Park, North and South Riverside Park, and Central Riverside Park, which features a small wildlife exhibit. Riverside also boasts scenic river trails, perfect for walking, running, biking, and fishing. Crown Heights Located just a block east of College Hill, Crown Heights is highly coveted in Wichita. This neighborhood is distinguished by its low crime rate and historic homes, making it an appealing option for potential residents. Prestigious Neighborhoods For those seeking upscale living, Northeast Wichita is home to exclusive neighborhoods like Oak Creek, Lakepoint, Wilson Estates, and more. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of town, neighborhoods such as Emerald Bay offer luxurious lakeside living. Regardless of your lifestyle or preferences, rest assured that Wichita has a neighborhood perfectly suited to your needs. Surrounding Areas Andover Nestled northeast of Wichita, Andover exudes a delightful suburban charm, coupled with a friendly atmosphere and outstanding schools. This rapidly growing community offers the perfect balance of tranquility and accessibility to Wichita’s top attractions, making it an ideal choice for families seeking a tight-knit neighborhood with a range of conveniences. Derby Southeast of Wichita lies Derby, a thriving suburb that continues to blossom with life. Its dynamic character is reflected in the abundance of recreational opportunities, such as parks, trails, and sports facilities, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and young families alike. Derby’s steady growth is driven by its unique blend of suburban lifestyle and proximity to Wichita’s bustling job market. Maize As you venture northwest of Wichita, you’ll discover the growing gem of Maize. Known for its relaxed ambiance and excellent school options, this community has been attracting a wave of new residents seeking a peaceful retreat without sacrificing modern conveniences. With its recent growth spurt and expanding amenities, Maize presents an exciting opportunity for those looking for a place to call home. Goddard To the west of Wichita lies Goddard, a town that is starting to see great growth and is quickly on the rise. Its strong sense of community, top-notch schools, and various recreational activities create an appealing atmosphere for families and individuals looking to settle down.. Bel Aire Nestled northeast of Wichita, Bel Air boasts a timeless appeal with a mix of suburban and rural charm. This well-established community provides residents with a peaceful escape while offering easy access to Wichita’s cultural scene. Its real estate market reflects a diverse range of housing options that cater to different preferences and lifestyles. Park City Located further north of Wichita, Park City is a dynamic suburb experiencing steady growth. Its welcoming community vibe, combined with affordable living and ample recreational opportunities, makes it an attractive prospect for first-time homebuyers and families looking to invest in an area with potential for future development. Haysville Just south of Wichita, Haysville carries a sense of history and small-town allure. This thriving community has been attracting new businesses and residents who continue to grow Haysville. With its affordable housing options and promising development, Haysville presents an excellent opportunity for those looking to become part of a vibrant community. You found a home and are under contract, now what? Congrats! There are a few things you will need to do through the contract process, though your realtor and lender will do most of the heavy lifting. Once you’ve found your dream home and are under contract, there are several essential steps you need to take. First and foremost, as the buyer, you’ll want to get all the necessary documentation in order. This includes reviewing and signing the purchase agreement, disclosures, and any other legal paperwork involved in the transaction. Next, it’s crucial to arrange for a home inspection. As the buyer, you have the responsibility to order this inspection to assess the property’s condition thoroughly. The home inspection will help identify any potential issues or repairs needed before finalizing the purchase. In addition to the home inspection, consider getting a sewer scope. This examination is essential to ensure the health and functionality of the property’s sewer lines, preventing any potential future sewer-related complications. To protect your ownership rights, you’ll need to secure title insurance. The title company will perform a title search to ensure there are no outstanding liens, claims, or ownership disputes associated with the property. The title insurance policy safeguards you against any unforeseen title-related issues that may arise in the future. Your lender will also play a significant role during this process. They will order an appraisal to determine the property’s fair market value. The appraisal is crucial for the lender to assess the property’s worth in relation to the loan amount they are willing to provide. Don’t forget to find suitable home insurance for your new property. Home insurance is a mandatory requirement for lenders, and it provides crucial coverage in case of unexpected damages or losses to your home. During the closing process, the funds for insurance and property taxes will be held in escrow. The escrow account serves as a secure way to hold and distribute these funds, ensuring they are available when needed. Lastly, consider the option of discount points when finalizing your mortgage. Discount points allow you to pay upfront to lower your interest rate over the life of your loan. Carefully evaluate this option to determine if it aligns with your long-term financial goals. By taking these steps and staying informed throughout the process, you’ll be well-prepared to complete the home-buying journey and embark on the exciting new chapter in your new home. Understanding a Real Estate Contract Real estate contracts outline the terms and conditions of the transaction between buyers and sellers, ensuring clarity and protection for both parties involved. There are a few key elements you should consider when delving into a real estate contract. Contingencies play a vital role in real estate contracts. These are conditions that must be met for the contract to remain valid. Common contingencies include financing, home inspections, and the sale of the buyer’s existing property. For instance, if the buyer cannot secure financing within a specified timeframe or the home inspection reveals significant issues, the contract may be terminated without penalty. Contingencies offer protection and allow buyers to back out of the deal if certain conditions are not met, safeguarding their earnest money. Still a bit unclear on how contingencies might affect you? Check out our comprehensive blog on everything you need to know for real estate contingencies. Earnest money is a deposit made by the buyer to demonstrate their commitment to the transaction. It serves as a show of good faith and is typically held in an escrow account until the deal is finalized. If the transaction successfully goes through, the earnest money is applied toward the down payment or closing costs. However, if the deal falls through due to a contingency, the earnest money is returned to the buyer. The role of sellers and buyers in real estate contracts varies significantly. Sellers must disclose relevant information about the property’s condition and any known defects. They also have the responsibility to provide a clear title to the property. On the other hand, buyers need to diligently review and understand the contract’s terms, perform inspections, and secure financing within the agreed-upon timeframe. Both parties must negotiate and agree on the terms, ensuring that their interests are protected. After both parties agree, the contract is given to the title company to process and there’s one less obstacle between you and your dream home! Home Inspections and Appraisals Home inspections and appraisals are two important steps in the home-buying process that every buyer should understand. The appraisal is ordered by the lender to ensure the purchase price is in accordance with the current market environment, while the home inspection is an optional buyer-ordered service. A home inspection is a thorough examination of the condition of the property by a licensed professional. It typically includes an inspection of the foundation, roof, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and other major systems of the home. The inspector will provide a report detailing any issues they find, giving the buyer an idea of the repairs or maintenance that may be needed. It’s important to note that a home inspection is not a guarantee that there are no problems with the home, but rather an opportunity to identify any issues that may exist. On the other hand, a home appraisal is an assessment of the value of the property by a licensed appraiser. The appraiser will consider factors such as the size and condition of the property, the location, and recent sales of similar homes in the area to determine the fair market value of the home. The appraisal is required and ordered by the lender to ensure that the property is worth the amount being financed. It’s important to note that a home inspection and appraisal serve different purposes. A home inspection is focused on identifying any issues or potential problems with the property, while an appraisal is focused on determining the value of the home. While a home inspection is not required by the lender, it is highly recommended to protect you from any unexpected repairs or maintenance costs. Your realtor and your lender will have several inspectors they can recommend to you. Closing Costs Closing costs are an essential aspect of the home buying process that potential buyers should be familiar with. These costs encompass various fees and expenses that must be paid when finalizing the purchase of a property. While the exact amount can vary significantly based on factors like location, property price, and the type of loan, they generally amount to around 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price. For instance, if you are buying a $300,000 home, your closing costs might range from $6,000 to $15,000. Typically, closing costs consist of several components. One major portion is the lender fees, which include origination fees and discount points. These fees are charged by the mortgage lender for processing the loan application and securing the loan. Here at JR Mortgage Group, WE DO NOT CHARGE AN ORIGINATION FEE. Additionally, there are third-party fees, such as appraisal charges, home inspection fees, title search and insurance, and title fees, which ensure a smooth and legally sound transaction. The homebuyer’s prepaid costs like property taxes and homeowners’ insurance for the initial period may also be included in the closing costs if you are escrowing with the lender. It’s crucial to budget for these expenses when planning to purchase a property. While closing costs can seem like a significant financial burden, they serve to protect both the buyer and the lender, ensuring that the property’s title is clear and the property’s value is accurate. Some buyers negotiate with the seller to cover a portion of these costs, which can help alleviate the financial strain. In any case, being informed about the expected closing costs enables buyers to approach the home-buying process with confidence and avoid surprises during the final stages of the transaction. Most of the time, unless it is a strong seller or buyer’s market, closing costs are split 50/50 between the buyer and seller. Property Taxes Property taxes are an important consideration for homebuyers in Wichita, as they can have a significant impact on the overall cost of owning a home. In Kansas, property taxes are levied by local governments and are based on the assessed value of the property. The assessed value is determined by the county appraiser and takes into account factors such as the size and location of the property, as well as any improvements that have been made. The property tax rate in Wichita is generally in line with the rest of Kansas, which has relatively low property tax rates compared to many other states. According to recent data from the Tax Foundation, Kansas ranks 27th in the country in terms of property tax rates, with an effective rate of 1.36%. This is lower than neighboring states such as Colorado, Missouri, and Nebraska, which all have higher property tax rates. Another factor to consider when it comes to property taxes is the specials on the property, Make sure you understand the specials on whatever property you are looking at. Talk with your real estate agent. What are specials? Specials refer to special assessments or special improvement districts. These are additional charges levied on a property to fund specific public projects or infrastructure improvements in the local area. These projects could include the construction of new roads, sidewalks, sewage systems, parks, or other community facilities that benefit the property and its surrounding neighborhood. It’s crucial to understand the specials on a property because they can significantly impact the overall property tax burden. Since these assessments are used to finance local improvements, they are usually in addition to the regular property taxes based on the property’s assessed value. As a result, failing to consider specials can lead to unexpected and higher tax bills. Conclusion Congratulations on reaching the conclusion of The Ultimate Guide to Buying a House in Wichita! We hope this comprehensive blog has given you the knowledge and confidence you need to embark on your exciting journey of purchasing your dream home in this vibrant city. From getting pre-approved to neighborhood exploration and understanding the costs involved, we’ve covered the essential steps and considerations to guide you through the home-buying process with ease here in Wichita. Wichita offers a diverse range of neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm and character. Whether you’re seeking a bustling urban community, a tranquil suburban retreat, or upscale luxury living, you can find a neighborhood that perfectly fits your lifestyle and preferences. To ensure a successful home-buying experience, start here with a loan officer at JR Mortgage. With our wide network of realtor partners, home inspectors, insurance agents, moving companies, and more, we will ensure that your homebuying process is smooth and stress-free. Thank you for choosing our guide to be your trusted companion in your quest for a home in Wichita. We wish you all the best in finding your dream home and look forward to helping you make your Wichita home dreams a reality. Get Your Pre-Approval Today! JR Mortgage Group Wichita Kansas Click to Call or Text: (316) 247-9639 This entry has 0 replies Comments are closed.