Home Buying


As you get ready to buy a house, you’ll doubtless have a lot of questions, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. One of the most important: What’s the best way to pay?

If you have the financial resources to purchase a home without taking out a loan, that may seem like a great option. After all, without taking time to complete the mortgage process, won’t you be able to make a fast and appealing offer to the seller?

Before making your final decision, you should step back and evaluate all your options. There are pros and cons to cash offers and mortgages. Considering them will help you pick the option that’s right for you.

There’s also another variable to keep in mind: In today’s tech-enabled real estate market, there are channels that can change the whole process for making an offer on a home. Services such as Bungalo can deliver an experience with more certainty, clarity, and less competition than the conventional home buying steps.

Before diving too deep into the ideal way to find a house and make an offer, however, it’s ideal to weigh the positives and negatives of cash versus mortgages.

Making a cash offer: Pros and cons

A cash sale is a form of home buying without a home loan or mortgage. Despite the name, a cash offer doesn’t involve a literal pile of dollar bills. While you use a wire transfer or a check to transfer the funds, the deal is basically as simple as if you were paying cash.

Of course, most people who are simply buying a house to live in will apply for a mortgage instead of making a cash purchase. This comes down to the simple fact that a cash buyer must have enough money free to pay the full asking price and a cash flow to replace it. That’s a lot of money; the average person won’t be able to part with it all at once.

A buyer interested in accepting a cash offer may therefore end up dealing with iBuyers or real estate organizations interested in reselling houses en masse or using them in an investment property portfolio. These companies use corporate funds to buy houses in cash. Alternatively, people who are trading in larger, more expensive homes for modest houses may have the cash to make an offer.

 Now that we’ve covered the basics of cash offers, what are the major pros and cons?


  • Since cash offers involve fewer parties — with no mortgage lender involved to inspect the property or determine how much to loan — the closing process can be quicker and easier.
  • Cash offers are easy for sellers to accept, provided the cash buyer can provide proof that they have sufficient funds in the bank.
  • Some elements associated with a mortgage loan, such as mortgage insurance, don’t apply to cash offers.


  • Since making a cash offer involves paying the whole price for a home without a loan, a large segment of individual buyers won’t be able to afford this method.
  • Buying a home in cash ties up a large amount of money in the house, so less is left over to pay for other expenses.
  • Cash buyers take all the risk of the purchase on themselves and must guard against potential problems such as fraud.

In general, making a cash offer on a home is a way to take some of the time and uncertainty out of closing the deal. It is, however, limited to the relatively small segment of homebuyers who have enough cash on hand to meet a seller’s asking price without a home loan.

Applying for a mortgage: Pros and cons

Getting a mortgage loan from a lender is the standard way of buying a new home, albeit one that comes in many varieties. You can apply for a conventional loan or take advantage of special mortgage products like a jumbo loan, VA loan or FHA loan, depending on your targeted house and eligibility.

If you apply for prequalification and preapproval, you can receive an approval letter from your chosen lender during the home search, making it clear to sellers that your credit score and financial situation are strong enough to make an offer that meets their asking price. This is a sound approach to mortgage financing, as it can take away some uncertainty as you get closer to your closing date.

You can play the field when applying for a mortgage, seeing which lenders are able to offer you the best terms regarding monthly mortgage payment amounts, your mortgage interest rate and more. Not every loan is the same. By comparing what banks are willing to extend, you can protect your financial situation in the years ahead.

So, what are the pros and cons of this method of home financing, especially when put up alongside cash offers?


  • The variety of mortgage loan products available allows homebuyers to match their requirements with a loan to fund their purchases.
  • With an approval letter, it’s possible to convey how much capital you have to work with when approaching a seller.
  • Sellers won’t necessarily choose a cash offer over a mortgage financed offer. A buyer willing to outbid the competition can defeat a cash buyer.


  • Extra time and paperwork come with applying for a mortgage, including a credit check that can briefly impact the buyer’s credit score.
  • If a home search goes too long, an approval letter can expire, meaning the prospective buyer has to apply for an extension or reapply for preapproval.
  • Closing a home sale can involve an appraisal and inspection process, extending this part of the sale.

Applying for a mortgage is the standard in the real estate space because it works, and has for years. While less splashy than making a cash offer, getting a mortgage loan can still get you the home of your dreams relatively quickly, especially with prequalification and preapproval.

Buying a house in cash vs. mortgage: Making your decision

Buying a house in cash vs. mortgage is a big decision. That doesn’t mean it has to be a stressful hang-up in your home buying process, however. In most cases, the choice will be made for you. Unless you have a large reserve of money in the bank, you’ll need to apply for some kind of home loan.

In a hot real estate market, as recently seen in many parts of the U.S., it can be tempting to lean toward cash offers. After all, with so many aggressive buyers attempting to make home purchases at once, this is a way to be quick and decisive, appealing to sellers’ desire for an easy closing.

You can still compete, however, no matter how hot the market is in your chosen area, and whichever method you plan to use to finance the purchase. In the end, the right choice for you will be the one that makes you feel most financially secure in the years to come — whether that means putting cash into the purchase or agreeing to loan terms.

One potentially overlooked option when buying a new home is to bypass the usual system of searching for houses on the open market and competing with other buyers. Alternative, modern home buying strategies, such as using Bungalo, allow you to combine some of the best aspects of cash transactions and mortgage loans.

Ideal house buying strategies: Beyond cash versus mortgage

If you’re buying through Bungalo, you’ve decided to buy a house in a different, more streamlined way, taking the best parts from various homebuying approaches.

A new way to browse for a home

Why is buying a home through Bungalo different than engaging in the standard approaches? The differences begin with the way you browse for available houses. You simply search through properties for sale on a user-friendly map view — including exclusive homes not yet listed anywhere else.

If you want to buy one of these homes, you simply submit an offer, without competing in bidding wars against other buyers. The purchase price is set based on other homes in the area, to ensure they are fair — you’re just paying for the home you’re getting, without the last-minute markups that can come with competitive bidding.

An easy approach to closing — whether cash sale or mortgage

Buying a Bungalo home works as if you were applying to purchase a property through a standard loan method. The difference comes in the easy closing process — more so than a standard mortgage preapproval or cash sale, Bungalo will tell you directly whether your offer has been accepted, with no scramble to bid against competing offers.

The simplified closing checklist will guide you through all the steps needed to finalize a sale. Some of the most potentially stressful parts of home buying — bidding, waiting for the closing to complete — have been streamlined to make the experience a pleasure.

Home condition and peace of mind

You can have peace of mind once you’ve moved into the new home, too. The houses are Bunglao Certified, which means professional inspectors have signed off on their integrity.

If a covered issue* does unexpectedly arise during your first 90 days in the new house, it’ll be taken care of at no cost to you. Being sure that everything in the house will work correctly can take some of the trepidation out of buying.

A new beginning for your home search

Are you ready to get started looking for your dream house? It’s as simple as looking at a map. With a mortgage preapproval letter from a lender or the appropriate cash assets set aside, you can turn your dream into reality in a few easy steps.

View listings in your area of choice to get started now.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.*Some limitations apply. See full list of Covered Items.

If your idea of home wouldn’t be complete without live concerts under the stars, Texas Longhorns grazing in open pastures and friendly neighborhoods left and right, grab those moving boxes — you’ll love living in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

From art and culture to local cuisine (don’t forget the barbeque sauce), Dallas has something for everyone. It also has real estate just waiting for the perfect house-hunter to come along. Before you break out the bubble wrap, though, there are a few things to brush up on so you can be sure you’re finding your dream home in Dallas.

The Dallas real estate market

Before buying a property anywhere, it’s important to know what the housing market looks like in your target area.

According to local news station WFAA, the average home price for new properties in Dallas is $414,290. This is just over the national average, which, according to Statista, sits at $408,800. In Texas, like in states all over the country, prices are increasing due to low inventory and high rates of home buying — which means the Dallas real estate market is, to use the colloquial term, on fire.

The good news is that, with your heart set on calling Dallas home, fierce competition in the housing market doesn’t have to be an obstacle. Instead, check out exciting listings on Bungalo® to start searching for a home without all the stress.

Dallas areas and nearby cities

Ready to begin the home buying process in the Dallas area? Here are a few things you should know about your new town before you become a Dallas home buyer — and which places you might like to be within driving distance of.


Downtown Dallas

Looking for big-city excitement with a small-town feel? Downtown is the place to be. Full of museums, gardens, parks, the Dallas World Aquarium and even a farmer’s market running since 1941, Visit Dallas says the downtown area is full of adventure — and friendly faces, too. When you’ve run out of steam, you’ll have plenty of dining options, from Italian cuisine to famous Texas barbeque, and you can even fit in some shopping before it’s time to head home.

Deep Ellum

U.S. News & World Report calls Deep Ellum “one of Dallas’ trendiest neighborhoods” — but you’ll have to come decide that for yourself. From personalized cocktails to graffiti-style murals, this neon-lit area might just be the best place to experience Texas nightlife. Don’t forget to check out the nightclubs, bars and live music venues while exploring the district that, according to Visit Dallas, was once just warehouses.

Highland Park

If you want to bring home a piece of Dallas, but you want to do it in a designer bag, look no further than Highland Park. According to U.S. News & World Report, this “ritzy” district is your one-stop luxury destination, catering to all of your shopping and dining daydreams. It’s also, the source explains, home to some of Dallas’ most expensive housing — so bring a camera if you want design ideas for your own little piece of Texas paradise.

Design District

In Dallas’ Design District, you’ll find old and new elements side by side. Visit Dallas describes an area full of art, from antique shops to high-end galleries, all lining the streets together. And it’s not just trinkets and home decor you’ll find here — the Design District has “designer” food, too. Here, you can try cuisine that is as authentic as it is artistic, fully immersing you in the district’s unique personality.

Fort Worth

According to Visit Fort Worth, this area about 30 miles from Dallas is “the City of Cowboys and Culture.” It has its own downtown and cultural districts, stockyards designed to be reminiscent of your favorite western movie and even an outdoor recreation area called Panther Island. If you’re visiting Dallas and looking to buy a home in the area, you won’t want to miss Fort Worth.


This area, positioned between Dallas and Fort Worth, is not to be missed. According to the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, Arlington is full of opportunities to enjoy sporting events, live music, a vibrant history featuring Bonnie and Clyde (among others) and even an amusement park. Tourists and locals alike will have plenty to do here — and prospective Dallas homebuyers can experience and learn about Texas culture 24/7.

Strategies for buying a home in Dallas

Finding your dream house

The Dallas Fort Worth area is bursting with opportunities to find your dream home at an affordable price. Here are a few areas you may want to check out:


If you’re looking for a little piece of Texas paradise, look no further than Mesquite. Combining the best of nature, art, history and modern entertainment, Visit Mesquite calls the city a “vibrant community.” It’s also known as the Rodeo Capital of Texas — so if you like cowboy boots and good old southern charm, this might just be the place for you.


According to Visit Garland, this is the spot to be if you’re looking for community events. From “Teach a Child to Fish Day” to Garland Summer Musicals, you may start to feel at home as soon as you step foot inside city limits.


The beat will go on in Irving.” That’s what Visit Irving has to say about this music hub of the Dallas Fort Worth area — so if your heart beats to the sound of a drum (or a guitar, or just about any other musical instrument) then you’ll want to explore Irving, where live music is everywhere,

Quick homebuying tips

You have a few options when it comes to buying a house in Dallas, including working with a real estate agent or going in alone.

Whatever you decide, your goal is to be a savvy buyer: simplify the entire process, minimize the closing cost and end up with a manageable mortgage. To do that, you may consider using an all-in-one platform to handle all your buying, closing and financing tasks.

Also remember that you don’t want to buy a house that will cost you thousands in repairs and maintenance just a few months or years down the road. Instead, trust Bungalo home certifications that come with thorough inspections and even a free one-year home warranty — that way, the only thing you’ll have to worry about when you walk through your new front door is where your couch will look best.

Come home to Dallas

If you’re ready to breathe in that fresh Texas air and start an adventure in a brand new city, it’s time to come home to Dallas. You have homebuying options across the area, including Arlington, Fort Worth, and towns in Dallas County like Mesquite or Irving. With plenty to see, do and experience — not to mention all the great food and exciting shopping experiences — you’ll never want to leave.

To simplify the buying process and end up in that nice, affordable area you’ve always dreamed of, start searching Bungalo listings today.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

Are you so ready to grab the keys to a new place? If so, look no further than the Dallas Fort Worth area: DFW has plenty of promising opportunities for anyone looking to enter the housing market. Whether you’re hoping to rent your first house or buy your forever home, you can find just what you need in DFW.

Before the fun stuff — like choosing what color to paint the bedroom wall or deciding just what type of couch complements your new living room — you have to actually find your ideal property. To do that, you need to have a little background on what’s going on locally — so here’s the 411 on the DFW housing market.

Are you considering entering the DFW housing market?

In DFW, like in any area, the housing market is made up of people buying, selling or renting real estate. Knowing how to navigate a landscape with so many different stakeholders is key to making an investment you can feel comfortable about — and, in the case of your dream home, feel comfortable in.

Here’s what you need to know to enter the DFW housing market like a pro.

The market is hot

The DFW housing market is hot, as in plenty of cities across the country — but just how hot is it?

According to the National Association of Realtors, the DFW median home price in the first quarter of 2021 was $300,000. Compared to other cities in the nation, that’s still an affordable price — but for DFW, it’s setting records. The Dallas Morning News reported that prices have increased 20% since 2020. However, 2020 set records of its own due to increasing demands during the pandemic: 60% of houses on the market received multiple offers in June 2020, according to Dallas’ D Magazine.

All of this, plus the comparatively low cost of living in Texas — according to, it’s almost 90% cheaper than San Francisco, about 80% cheaper than New York City, and almost 20% cheaper than Chicago — makes Dallas a promising area, if not one of the best cities, in which to invest in the real estate market as of 2021.

North Texas mortgage trends

In its Affordability by County tracker, the NAR noted that mortgage payments in Dallas County are around $867, while they were at $827 in 2020. In Potter County, where Amarillo is located, monthly mortgage payments have increased $15 since 2020. Overall, mortgage payments are trending higher in North Texas — although Lubbock County payments fell by $13 between 2020 and 2021.

As a home buyer or real estate renter entering the DFW housing market, the takeaway is this: You may be looking at higher house prices, but affordable mortgage rates and a comfortable cost of living make Dallas your new dream city.

The state of home prices in DFW relative to the rest of Texas

The home buying process in Texas looks different depending on where your ideal neighborhood is located — for example, houses near a major city like Dallas will be worth more, which means the DFW area is a great place to invest. The process also depends on whether you want to rent or buy your new home. If you’re ready to buy, it’s best to start your home search with Bungalo’s® all-in-one platform, offering built-in tools to keep track of all your options.

Now, if you’re thinking the record highs in the Dallas real estate market are impressive, just wait — they may not even be done fluctuating. According to The Washington Post, homebuyers should expect housing affordability to decrease as demand increases and the housing shortage continues. Looks like home prices won’t be stabilizing any time soon.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the DFW housing market will crash. It all depends on how many new homes are built to keep up with demand, how buyer habits evolve over the coming months and years, and how the national economy continues to respond to the pandemic.

What is it like to live in Dallas?

The population growth in the DFW area proves that people from all over the country have decided that Texas is a great place to live. Here’s a look at why everyone’s so eager to call Dallas home.

Cost of living in Texas

At the time of this writing, AAA reported Texas’ average gas price at $2.83. That’s significantly lower than western states like Idaho, where gas costs $3.80 per gallon. In fact, Texas gas prices are the second-lowest in the country — a significant sign that the cost of living in Texas is crazy low.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Dallas area has gained nearly 200,000 jobs since May 2020 — which means opportunity abounds. The source calls trade, transportation and utilities the largest employment supersector in Dallas and surrounding areas, although most of the year’s gains were in the leisure and hospitality industry. Plus, with a short commute to major companies like Southwest Airlines and AT&T, you’ll have access to any job you could ever want.


According to CultureMap Dallas, Dallas was ranked the #1 most family-friendly city in 2018. This is good news for home buyers, as it means neighbors are friendly, entertainment is plentiful and there’s always someone willing to answer your questions about the area.

What’s it like to live in Fort Worth?

Although Dallas has a lot to do with North Texas’ population growth, Fort Worth is not to be forgotten when it comes to metro areas for real estate investing. It’s a 44-minute drive from Dallas to Fort Worth — and in those 44 minutes, you’ll pass into a culture that, while similar, has a personality all its own.

Here are a few ways Fort Worth is different from Dallas:

  • There’s more space. The smaller population in Fort Worth means there aren’t as many people in the parks or cars on the road.
  • Unique character is everywhere. According to the City of Fort Worth, the area’s nickname is “Where the West Begins,” emphasizing its roots in the classic American West.
  • You’ll feel a homey vibe. While Dallas is bursting with eclectic art and trendy entertainment, Fort Worth is more about hometown charm and casual fun.

Enter the DFW housing market with confidence

Now that you know what’s happening with DFW real estate, it’s time to get out there and find the house that’s perfect for you. When buying, Bungalo certifications make it easy to know you’ll be moving into a well-maintained, solidly built home that even comes with guarantees and extra warranties — and, speaking of preparing for the future, the housing market is only getting hotter. There’s no better time to invest!

If you’re ready to reach out and grab the keys to a brand-new place, see what Bungalo listings are waiting for you in DFW.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

Whether you’re buying your first home or your 10th, the process can be a little daunting — or maybe even totally terrifying. Markets change, interest rates fluctuate, sellers use new tools and the buying process itself never seems to stay the same — so how can you know what to expect?

The good news is that, even though the journey to a brand-new home looks a little different for everyone, there are a few steps you can always count on. Let’s go through the process, from the very first daydream to the moment when you finally take the keys to your perfect property.

Do you think you’re ready to buy a house?

It’s one thing to think about buying a house — imagining what color you’d paint the walls, where you’d put the doggie door, which flowers you’d plant along the front walkway — but it’s another thing to actually do it. That’s why the first step in buying a house is to make sure you’re ready for everything the process entails.

Before you buy

Don’t reach for that home search app until you’ve asked yourself these questions:

  • Could my financial habits support any long-term mortgage option?
  • Am I ready to settle down in one area?
  • Do I want to be responsible for repairs, maintenance and other household expenses?
  • Are my career and salary reliable enough for a large expense?
  • Does the economy make this the right time to buy a home?

If you can answer a resounding yes to all of these questions, congratulations — you’re ready to become a home buyer.

If, however, you hesitate in one of these areas or more, it’s time to sharpen your favorite pencil and do a little more homework. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams of homeownership — just do research on finances, the real estate market and the economy until you know what’s causing you to hesitate and how you can overcome it.

Understand the finances

Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to jump in with both feet, your next step is to make sure your budget is on board. Here are a few things to know about the costs of buying a house and how to prepare yourself financially.


How much money should you be making to buy your first home? That depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The local real estate market
  • Mortgage rate
  • Manageable mortgage payment
  • The square footage you’re looking for
  • The property size you want
  • How long you plan to stay in your new home

If you’re looking for a “forever home,” you’ll have plenty of time to make changes and renovations until every detail feels like you. That means you can buy a fixer-upper or a house in need of a few updates — you’ll get the property cheaper and you won’t have to worry as much about resale value. This is a good way to get a comfortable house even with a lower income.

If, however, you’re looking for a starter house or just don’t want the work and worry of renovations, a Bungalo home is the perfect fit. Bungalo homes get all the necessary face-lifts before ever hitting the market — which means you can start living your dream life the minute you walk in the front door.


According to Forbes, you should have enough savings to comfortably make a 20% down payment. That means being able to handle your mortgage payment every month without having to stress about unexpected expenses — for example, a hospital bill or a mechanical fix for your car.

Also consider things that could dip into your savings over time, including student loans, credit cards or that awesome little takeout place you just can’t get enough of. Ideally, owning a house shouldn’t put other parts of your financial life in peril — so take all of your money habits into consideration when deciding how much house to buy. 

Real estate agents

Although you don’t have to work with a real estate agent during the homebuying process — in fact, with Bungalo, you get 1.5% cash back when buying direct — they can be a helpful resource throughout the home purchase. This is especially true if you’re uncertain about the details or feel you need an ally to protect you legally and financially. (More on that later.)

At this stage of the buying process, don’t worry about deciding on an agent — what you need to know is how much an agent’s commission adds to closing costs.

Generally, agents make between 5 and 6% of the sale price on a home. For reference, a house that sells for $300,000 would come with an $18,000 payday for your agent. This isn’t a budgeting tragedy, though — the commission comes from the total you pay as a buyer, which means it won’t be tacked on as an extra fee. Also keep in mind that the seller takes this money and pays it to their listing agent, who splits it with your agent.

However, if you have a home to sell before you can close on a new one, you’ll have to think more like a seller when it comes to commissions — meaning that about 6% of what the buyer paid will be split between both agents. No matter how a real estate agent factors into the deal, make sure you take them into account when considering costs.

The home inspection

A home inspection is a big part of the real estate game, especially if you end up seriously considering multiple houses. They can make or break a deal — but they can do the same thing to your budget.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, home inspections can range from $300 to $500, but may go higher depending on the square footage of the home and any special circumstances. That may not be a big deal if you only have one house inspected — but if someone swoops in with a higher offer and you end up going to your second choice, you’ll have to pay for another inspection.

Also keep in mind that home inspections are considered confidential. When you pay for one, it belongs to you — so even if someone else made an offer on your dream house, had an inspection and then backed out of the deal for separate reasons, you can’t benefit from that report. You have to pay to have another one completed.

Mortgage and loan considerations

As you consider whether you’re ready for home buying, you don’t yet need to worry about specifics like mortgage rates or what type of home loan is best for you. It’s more important to do the math and find out how a mortgage would impact your overall financial health.

Take, for example, your credit score. According to Experian, applying for a mortgage loan temporarily hurts your credit. This happens in two stages: first, lenders are checking your credit, which can make the score drop by around five points; second, once the mortgage is opened, your score drops again until you prove you’re able to make payments on time.

After the mortgage has been open and your payment habits are established, one of two things will happen. If you make every payment on time, your score will start to improve — and the longer your mortgage lasts, the more you’ll round out your credit history. Miss payments or pay late, however, and your score will drop.

While this may not seem like a big deal — after all, you’ll have already closed on your house — it can hurt you in the future. You’ll have trouble making big purchases or refinancing existing loans — so manage that mortgage carefully.

Know your options

If you’ve gotten this far, it means you understand the costs of buying a house and are still ready to start the process. That’s good news — because now the fun part begins.

The home buying process looks different for everyone. Deciding how it’s going to look for you is where you get control over how you spend your money, what approaches you use, which deals are best and what your house-hunting story will look like. The good news is that you have plenty of options — so no matter what you want in a home, there’s a way to get there.

Real estate agents: Should you get one?

Remember that childhood game “the floor is lava”? Well, that’s what it’s like trying to navigate the housing market right now — and sometimes, a real estate agent is just the ally you need to navigate through that kind of heat. Other times, it may be better to go in alone.

Here’s what you need to know.

Real estate agent vs. real estate attorney

Real estate agents help you with every step of the house-hunting process, from finding the right property to signing the paperwork. They’re experts at reading the market, and sometimes they can even help you decide which house fits your income.

A real estate attorney, on the other hand, is all about the law. They won’t help you find your dream home, but they will help you read and sign all the forms that come with it. They know how to protect you from legal loopholes and financial fiascos, and they’re good allies in a seller’s market (which is the case just about everywhere right now).

Do you need representation?

You don’t have to have an agent or attorney when buying a home. In fact, skipping this step might save you money in the long run. However, if you’re worried about all that legalese — or if you don’t want to face an experienced seller on your own — you may want to consider finding a partner in property-buying.

Here are some things to ask yourself:

  • Am I confident in finding my own home, or do I need help searching?
  • Can I organize my own home tours?
  • Do I have experience reading and understanding legal paperwork?
  • How familiar am I with the real estate market?
  • Am I a good negotiator?
  • Do I know what the best price is and how to get it?
  • Can I make my terms stand out to sellers who may be fielding multiple offers?

Choosing an agent

Choosing the right real estate agent comes down to your unique needs as a buyer. As you begin your search, keep these things in mind:

  • Experience isn’t everything.

Finding a reliable, experienced agent is important, but it’s not the only thing you should consider. Someone who’s been in the business for 20 years may be stuck in their ways, while someone newer to the real estate world might see new approaches and be able to navigate the modern market with more flexibility.

  • Keep your options open.

According to Forbes, it’s best to interview at least three real estate agents before making a final decision. This helps you broaden your horizons and have something to compare against as you talk to each candidate.

  • Make personal connections.

Agents can do a whole lot more than show homes. They’re also your guide through local neighborhoods, school districts and more — as long as you take the time to connect with them on a personal level, that is. This is especially helpful if you’re moving from out of town or you’re a little nervous about relocation.

  • Be sure they’re good communicators.

A good real estate agent needs to be in frequent contact with you. In the beginning of the home search, they need to update you about new listings — but as the journey continues, communication becomes even more important. For example, say you’ve just made an offer on a house and are eagerly waiting to hear back. If your agent doesn’t bother answering your texts or emails, you could be left in the dark for a whole day or longer — and that’s plenty of time for sellers to receive other offers.

Obtaining a mortgage

Choosing a new home is the fun part. Paying for it — not so much. Luckily, there are ways to simplify the process of understanding and obtaining a mortgage, and it all begins with one little step called preapproval.

Step 1: Preapproval

Mortgage preapproval is like the fast line for anyone buying a house. It shows sellers that you’re close to securing the necessary financing to buy their home — and it might just make your offer stand out from the crowd.

To get preapproval, you’ll need a few things:

  • An acceptable credit score
  • Proof of identity
  • Employment history
  • Pay stubs or income statements
  • Lists of accounts and liabilities

Once this information is in hand, you’ll fill out a 1003 form for one or more lenders you’re interested in working with. If they preapprove you, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get the loan — but the lender is saying they’re interested, and the process will be faster and easier later.

Step 2: Understand your mortgage options

When it comes to choosing a mortgage, you have a few options — and your biggest considerations are type and terms.


According to Forbes Advisor, there are two loan types to choose from. The first is a conventional loan, where you borrow directly from a private lender and agree to their terms. The second is a federal loan, including the FHA loan and VA loan, that is insured by the government — which, in turn, makes the lender more comfortable taking a risk if your credit score is low.


You also need to consider the terms of each loan. For example, a long-term home loan may make your monthly payment manageable — but it’s also forcing you to pay interest for a longer period of time, meaning that the total cost will be far more in the long run. Short-term loans, on the other hand, have higher monthly payments, but will be cheaper overall if you can manage them.

Step 3: Research interest rates

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, lenders determine the interest rate on your mortgage by taking a few factors into consideration:

  • Your credit score and history
  • Your monthly income
  • Your loan type and terms
  • The total price of your new home
  • The location of your new home
  • The percentage of your down payment

Different lenders also offer different interest rates, which means you should shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal before signing anything.

Step 4: Know your responsibilities

When choosing a mortgage, you’re also choosing some new responsibilities that will follow you for decades. That’s why it’s smart to know exactly what’s expected of you from day one.

Here are a few things that will be on your plate:

Homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance financially defends your new home and the people who live or visit there. That’s why it’s required by lenders: They’re protecting their investment. Luckily, you have options for securing homeowners insurance, so you should be able to negotiate terms that benefit your budget.

This is much easier when you choose a Bungalo Certified home. Bungalo certifications mean that a house is solid, safe and free of costly issues — which means you won’t have to worry about using that homeowners insurance.

Mortgage insurance

Lenders typically require mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20% of a home’s total price. Private mortgage insurance protects the lender in case you can’t make your payments regularly or on time.


Speaking of payments, the good news is that all these responsibilities and insurances are usually calculated into your monthly bill. The rest of your monthly mortgage payment amount is determined by details like interest rate, loan terms, type of loan and more.

Step 5: Finalize

Once you’ve checked everything off the list, it’s time to get one step closer to buying a house by finalizing your mortgage. This is when you actually sign on the dotted line and a potential lender becomes your financial partner. Congratulations — you’re about to take the keys to your very own piece of real estate.

Closing costs and more

Closing costs are usually the final hurdle between you and your new home. Buyers and sellers have different responsibilities when it comes to closing costs, but both parties have something to pay for. Here are some things you’ll be responsible for as a buyer:

  • Appraisal fees
  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage origination fees
  • Title insurance

Luckily, you usually don’t need to worry about paying agent commissions when buying a home. That’s generally part of the seller’s closing costs — meaning they pay both their own agent and yours.

One more thing you’ll need to consider in your calculations is earnest money. This is a payment you make to show the seller you’re serious about their property and you’re able to secure the necessary funds, and it’s paid early in the process. If everything goes as planned, earnest money goes toward your down payment or closing costs once the deal is finalized. However, if anything falls through, you usually get that money back from the seller.

After that last dollar is paid, the closing process can take between 30 and 60 days — and then the keys are yours.

Make buying a breeze with Bungalo

If you haven’t even pulled out the moving boxes yet and you’re already feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry — stress just means there’s an easier way to do what’s worrying you.

When it comes to finding your dream home, that “easier way” is working with Bungalo. Certified houses listed exclusively on an all-in-one home-buying platform where all the tricky stuff is taken care of for you? It doesn’t get much better than that.

Start browsing with Bungalo today and see how easy it is to get home.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

Are you ready to take the leap from renter to official homeowner? The home buying experience can seem overwhelming at a first glance and sometimes even confusing. However, as a buyer, searching and buying for a house should be an exciting time — after all, it signifies a new chapter in your life.

At Bungalo we’re striving to help home buyers streamline their process through our all-in-one home buying platform. Our Bungalo team is comprised of dedicated experts who inspect and renovate each home to make sure it meets your needs and standards.

Just as we guide users through each step from searching to financing to closing, we also hope to help inform and prepare potential buyers for each step to buying a home. Read on and discover what you need to start your journey as a soon-to-be homeowner.

Is now the time to buy real estate?

As most real estate agents will point out, your home buying experience will depend mostly on when you choose to start your search for a new home. Housing market conditions will always have a big impact on prices, the number of houses on the market and other real estate factors.

With all of that in consideration, is 2021 a good time to buy a house?

The answer depends on your personal home goals for the year.

According to Newsweek, mortgage rates are historically low, which is beneficial for new homeowners who want to apply for a mortgage. However, the current demand for housing keeps increasing, which is driving up home prices in most areas. This probably means that consumer price inflation is not going to return to a normal rate in the immediate future, especially as COVID-19 adds pressure and uncertainty to the market.

Due to the high demand for houses, first-time home buyers will also have increased competition from cash buyers and quicker turnaround as homes leave the market almost as fast as they enter it. This will mean that new home buyers will need to know exactly what they want and what they don’t want, to make faster decisions before their potential dream home is sold to someone else. To improve the odds of homebuying, a buyer will probably also have to be open to submitting multiple offers just to stand a chance in a high-demand, low-supply housing market.

Yet homebuyers shouldn’t despair. As mentioned previously, mortgage rates are historically low, as are interest rates. This can be extremely beneficial to new home buyers, as it can allow them to increase their potential budget for buying a house with a low-interest loan from a trusted lender. Then, with a wider price range available, buyers will have improved options in their search.

A first-time buyer also has the option to get additional financial help from state programs, tax breaks and federally backed loans. If you and/or your family qualify as first-time homebuyers, as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, make sure to visit their website to learn more about your financing options.

If soon-to-be homeowners stay within their search budgets and are approved for their preferred financing option, the investment can be incredibly worthwhile as the property grows in value over time.

Remember: If you’ve saved and prepared for buying a home, the housing market will affect your search, but it shouldn’t derail your plans. If you’re ready to buy a home, then now is the time to do so.

8 steps you can expect as a home buyer

The best way to prepare to buy a house is to make sure you have a deep understanding of each step that leads up to closing on your future home. This means you’ll need to do some research.

Learn and follow our recommended steps to streamline your home buying experience:

1.  Determine if you’re ready to buy a home

This might seem like an obvious step, but it’s surprisingly one of the most important factors to consider before you start searching for a new home.

To determine if you’re ready to buy a home, potential buyers need to look beyond whether they want to own a home and take the time to consider all of the finances that will be needed to become a homeowner. Here are the top questions to ask yourself:

Will your financial health (income, employment status, credit score, etc.) enable you to buy a home?

Steady employment and income are critical if you are seeking financing. Lenders will need documentation that not only proves you have enough money, but also that you have a reliable work history and consistent source of income. If you’ve worked steadily for the past two years, then you’ll probably be asked to show your recent pay stubs and W-2s.

Meanwhile, you should also verify that your credit score is good. Your eligibility for a home loan will mainly depend on this factor. In fact, Rocket Mortgage recommended that potential homebuyers have a minimum credit score of 620, as that is the least you can have to be approved for the majority of loans. Not only will your credit score affect whether you can qualify for a loan, but it will also determine your interest rate. The better your credit report, the lower your interest rate will be.

If you don’t have a great credit score, you’ll most likely need to spend time improving your credit before you start the process of buying a new home.

Can you commit to a 30-year mortgage?

Buying a new home isn’t just a major financial investment — it’s also a major time investment.

Not all mortgages are 30-year-long commitments. But the majority are long-term, multi-year financial obligations. If you can’t see yourself spending the next few years (possibly decades) in the same house, it might not be the right time for you to buy a home. Once you purchase a home, you’ll have much less flexibility when it comes to moving, unless you’re in the market for a second home or looking to sell this one.

Depending on your financial situation, career goals and family obligations, take some time to determine whether you’re ready to make such a long-term decision. The choices you make based on these factors will also help you narrow down where and when you want to buy a house in the future.

2.  Save for the buying process

Affording a new home takes a large chunk of savings, so make sure you understand any and all additional expenses that may pop up during the home buying process.

Down payments

The largest portion of your savings will probably go to the one-time down payment to the lender. Common home buying rhetoric tells new buyers that the standard down payment is about 20% of the total cost of the home. However, that’s not the case for many — especially first-time buyers.

Depending on the first-time home buyer program or loan type that you choose, your down payment could potentially be as low as 3% to 5%. If you’re interested in exploring additional down payments and financing options, consider this resource list as provided by Investopedia:

  • Department of Housing and Urban Development’s resource list
  • Your IRA’s options
  • Local and state programs
  • Indigenous loan options

However, it can also be beneficial to choose to make a larger down payment if it’s within your budget. This can increase your mortgage options so that you can acquire the right home loan for your financial situation.

If you need help breaking down your down payment options, check out our step-by-step guide here.

Closing costs

Closing costs are additional fees that are due alongside the property’s agreed-upon purchase price. Generally, experts recommend that potential buyers save for closing costs within 3% to 6% of your purchase price. So if your potential new home costs $200,000, you’ll want to save between $6,000 to $12,000.

Closing costs must be agreed upon by both parties, so you shouldn’t be blindsided once you start the buying process. Additionally, your costs will always be unique to the loan type and/or lender that you choose. Once you and your lender come to an agreement, they will provide you with a closing disclosure document, which will outline exactly what your closing costs will be.

Additional costs

Don’t forget to save for any other surprise expenses that may come up as you begin the home buying process. For example, some loans require that you pay for the house to have additional inspections for pests or defects before closing. These last-minute fees should be included in your budget as you begin the search for your new home.

3.  Get preapproval for a mortgage

Once you have your budget and have evaluated your savings, it’s the perfect time to get a mortgage preapproval.

This is when serious home buyers will stand out against the crowded housing market. If you start your search already preapproved for a mortgage, sellers will be more likely to seriously consider your offer as you’ve proven your financial commitment.

There are many types of loans to look into when you’re shopping for mortgage preapproval, including:

  • Conventional loan
  • FHA loan
  • VA loan
  • USDA loan

Depending on your individual financial situation, you’ll want to choose a lender that will get you the best deal and loan estimate based on your credit, assets and income.

Once you’ve chosen your lender and loan type, the process to get preapproved is straightforward. Each mortgage broker will typically ask you questions regarding your income and assets, and run a credit check. This credit check does appear as a “hard inquiry,” which can hurt your credit score in the short term. Due to this, it’s important that potential buyers only apply for preapprovals when they’re officially ready to start searching for a home.

If preapproved, you will receive a preapproval letter that verifies how big a loan you’re potentially eligible for. This process can take anywhere from one to 10 days and each lender should be able to give you a clear timeline for the preapproval.

If you’re working with a real estate agent, be sure to show them your preapproval letter so that they will help you find homes that fit your budget.

Important reminder: Preapproval letters do have expiration dates. If you don’t progress to the next step (final mortgage approval), you will need to apply for a renewal or seek a new preapproval. Each lender will have their own expiration dates, so reach out to them and verify exactly how long your preapproval letter is valid.

4.  Find and choose how you want to search and buy

Your first instinct may be to start searching for a real estate agent. But with Bungalo’s simple and transparent process, you can find, tour and buy a home without using an agent. Instead, our experts work with you throughout the buying process to ensure a simple and direct experience. You can also still choose to go with a real estate agent.

If you start looking for a real estate agent, you’ll probably start seeing online advertisements and front yard signs for potential agents everywhere. However, your best bet is to ask people you personally know for advice. If you have family or friends who’ve recently purchased a home or know an experienced real estate agent, that’s the best place to start.

If you can’t find any personal recommendations, you can also ask your lender if they’re affiliated with real estate agents who can help you with your home search. The best practice is to reach out to two to three real estate agents and then narrow down and pick the best one for you.

Once you have your options, ask them for references. Speaking with past clients will truly show which agent is best for your search.

Finally, if you’ve followed the above tips, don’t forget to trust your instincts. Your real estate agent is your guide through the entire home buying process. They will help you find available homes, choose appropriate offer amounts and finally buy your new home. Don’t commit to an agent just because they’re the easiest or quickest option.

5.  Start searching for your new home

You’ve decided you want to buy a home, you’ve saved, chosen your financing options and found a real estate agent. Now, it’s time to start searching for potential homes.

You should plan to answer the following questions to narrow down your search:

  • Where do you want to live? (A specific area, neighborhoods, etc.)
  • What kind of home are you looking for? Do you have set expectations for the number of bedrooms and bathrooms?
  • Do you have any deal-breakers? (Must be in a good school zone, must have a large backyard, etc.)
  • What is your budget? Is there flexibility?

To get started searching for your future home, check online listings and drive through ideal neighborhoods to see houses for sale. Don’t forget to also let your friends and family know what you’re looking for — they can help find options, too.

Once you have your initial list of homes, you can then start going to open houses (preferably with your agent, if using one) and viewing potential properties.

6.  Find a home and make an offer

When you’ve found a home that fits your most important deciding criteria, it’s time to make an offer. In the current fast-paced housing market, there are more buyers than sellers, which means you’ll probably make more than one offer during your home buying journey.

In the traditional process of making an offer, offers must be submitted to the home sellers in writing as a letter. Your letter must include:

  • Your full name
  • Current address
  • Your payment offer
  • A deadline

The deadline in your offer letter refers to the date when the seller must either accept or reject your offer by. In most cases, your real estate agent will write the letter on your behalf and will then submit it to the seller.

This offer letter usually also requires an earnest money deposit, which is about 1% to 2% of the home’s purchase price. The earnest money deposit is a sign of your commitment to the property and will be added to your down payment and closing costs if your offer is accepted by the seller.

You should also include home inspection and home appraisal contingencies in your offer letter and negotiations. These contingencies will protect you if it’s revealed that the home needs major repairs or is worth less than your offer.

However, Bungalo has streamlined this process to make it as easy as possible: simply click “make an offer” on the home listing page on our website.

In the standard process, the seller will either accept your offer, reject it or give you a counteroffer. If the seller gives a counteroffer, you will have to go through every detail of the changed offer, such as the purchase price or terms of the sale, and begin negotiations. That’s why Bungalo’s service includes no-hassle offers — you won’t have to deal with counter offers with any Bungalo home listings.

Buying a home is a huge investment and you shouldn’t make any rash decisions if you feel doubts regarding the price, terms or house’s condition. Walking away is a natural part of finding your right home, so don’t feel pressured to commit if it doesn’t feel right.

On the other hand, if your offer is accepted or all counteroffer negotiations are agreed upon, you can proceed to the next step.

7.  Secure a home inspection and a home appraisal

You should always schedule a home inspection once your offer is accepted for a house. The house may have looked perfect during your walkthrough, but an expert will know exactly what to look for in terms of damage or potential issues in your future home.

Most accepted home offers include a contingency where buyers can back out of a purchase — or negotiate repairs — if the home inspection highlights major issues with the house.

This is why every home on our platform has been Bungalo Certified so that new homeowners feel comfortable knowing that their home not only meets but exceeds their standards. Our dedicated team of experts inspects every inch of each home and certifies that they’re in good condition, including HVAC and electrical. In fact, we even offer 90-day post-close protection, meaning we’ll cover anything that doesn’t meet our Bungalo Certified standards for 90 days.*

When the home has been fully inspected, you can then schedule a home appraisal. Mortgage lenders require that you have a home appraisal to identify the property’s current value. Only after the appraisal has been completed will you be able to secure your loan to purchase the house.

However, a potential issue is if the home’s appraised value is less than what you offered to the seller. If that is the case, you will not be able to secure your home loan as lenders can’t give more than what your home is worth. This is a major reason why you should include an appraisal contingency in your offer.

If both the inspection and appraisal go smoothly, you can move forward with the step: closing on your new home.

8.  Close on your new home

Closing is the final — and quickest — step in your home buying journey. At this point, your mortgage lender will provide you with a closing disclosure document, which will explain exactly how much you need to pay and each detail of your loan.

After going through the disclosure, you’ll have a closing meeting to officially pay your down payment, closing costs and sign the mortgage note.

Once this meeting is done, you’ll have officially bought a house and become a homeowner.

Common missteps to buying a house

Now that you understand all of the steps you need to take to successfully buy a house, it’s time to also consider the steps you should avoid when buying a house.

Buying a home can be a complicated and emotional process, which can pressure you to rush through it. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

Not saving enough money for a down payment

Although it’s a myth that you should put down a 20% down payment by default, it’s still important that you save as much as you can to pay as much upfront as possible.

As previously stated, the larger the down payment, the smaller the mortgage loan. If you can afford a larger mortgage, you’ll be able to save on interest in the long term.

Not getting a mortgage preapproval

Getting preapproved for a mortgage shows sellers that you are invested in purchasing a new home. It’s a sign of commitment that will make you stand out from other buyers and their offers.

If you attempt to make an offer without a mortgage preapproval, you may seem less serious to sellers, and in an already crowded market, you’ll be far less successful in your home buying journey.

Buying outside of your budget

A dream home can quickly become a nightmare if you’re not able to keep up with your monthly mortgage payment. If you end up in a position where you can’t pay your mortgage, you’ll most likely have to end up selling your home or risk majorly harming your credit score.

If you plan out your budget beforehand and stick to it, you’ll be able to avoid this difficult situation and enjoy your new home purchase.

How long will it take you to go from buyer to homeowner?

The answer to this question is unique to each homeowner. Consistently, once you reach the closing step of buying a home, the process suddenly speeds up and you can find yourself a homeowner after a one- or two-hour meeting on your closing date. For an all-in-one timeline for first-time home buyers, check out our article here.

However, the process of saving for a home, finding a real estate agent and then making offers on potential homes vary widely. The best advice is not to rush through the steps to buying a house.

Buy your future home with Bungalo

Now that you’ve done your research and understand what’s needed to become a homeowner, it’s the perfect time to take complete control of the home buying process with Bungalo Direct. Through our platform, users are guided through every step of buying a home, whether you choose to search by yourself or with a real estate agent, we’ll work with you. Discover how we can help you close on your future home here.

The fact is that buying a home shouldn’t have to be stressful or complicated. Our interactive platform allows potential buyers access to convenient self tours, transparent pricing and pre-inspected homes. Learn more about our all-in-one service to help you smoothly transition from buyer to owner.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

*Some limitations apply. See full list of Covered Items.

Buying a new home gets complicated pretty quickly. From chasing down all of the documents you need to finding a house that actually checks off all of your must-have features, closing can feel like an ever-moving finish line.

Good news: You can take off those running shoes and stop sprinting toward the horizon. We’re about to replace your high-intensity cardio day with a leisurely stroll around the furniture store.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a longtime homeowner, learn how Bungalo can help you seal the deal and close on the home of your dreams — no race to offer or bidding war required.

How to prepare to buy a house, part 1: Your credit report

It can be tempting to dive headfirst into the home-buying process, but there’s one important step to take before you can start exploring the listings in your area: getting your credit report.

Your credit score plays a major role in the mortgage process, as lenders will use it to get a complete picture of your finances. While your score is a key component of getting your loan approved, lenders will also look at several other factors, including your income, current property, assets and any outstanding debt.

For the majority of lending decisions, your mortgage lender of choice will use what’s known as your FICO score to determine your eligibility for a loan. Your FICO score is calculated by the data analytics company Fair Isaac Corporation, and it’s based on data from all of your credit reports over time.

Although your FICO score is not the only credit score available, it’s the most widely used and many of the largest lending institutions will ask exclusively for it over other credit scoring systems.

Understanding what your FICO score means

To your lender, your FICO score represents the degree of risk they’re taking on by allowing you to borrow. The higher the score, the less risky the home loan.

If you don’t know where your credits stand at the moment, you can get a report from any of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. While you can request your report for free every 12 months, you’ll need to pay if you’re checking more frequently. Some authorized organizations (like your credit card provider) will also give you monthly updates at no charge.

The exact formula behind your FICO score is proprietary information held by Fair Isaac Corporation, however, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has outlined the five most important financial categories and how they each contribute to your overall score:

  • Payment history 35%: Think of this as your permanent record. Your credit history represents all of your past payments and whether they were paid on time.

  • Amounts owed — 30%: If you have outstanding credit card debt or student loans, don’t stress: You won’t automatically be disqualified from purchasing a home. What matters more than the amount of debt you owe is that you’re on top of payments and utilizing your credit responsibly.
  • Length of credit — 15%: This one can be tricky for any first-time buyers or young professionals. It takes about six months to begin building your credit score. After that period, the longer you have good-standing credit the better your score will be.

  • New credit — 10%: The more credit inquiries made in the past 12 months the lower the score, so don’t open new accounts too quickly. Your personal credit checks will not hurt your score, however.

  • Types of credit in use — 10%: If you manage a mix of different loans and lines of credit, lenders will view you more favorably as that indicates a lower risk for them.

Now that you know how your score is calculated, it’s time to answer the big question: What score do you need to buy a home?

First, the short answer: According to the NAR and other major institutions, prospective home buyers should aim for 620 or higher.

The longer answer: It really depends on your unique financial history and the lender you decide to borrow from — we’ll get into that in a second, though.

If you’re not at 620 just yet, don’t worry. Even if your credit record isn’t squeaky clean, with so many different types of loans available you’ll still be able to find one that works for your unique financial situation. Plus, you can always put a temporary pause on your search to build up your credit score a little more.

How to prepare to buy a house, part 2: Loan options

Once you know your credit score, you can start to research your options when it comes to loans. Each lender will have their own eligibility requirements, but aside from your credit score, some may also dictate the location of your home as well as the type of property you can purchase.

By getting pre-approved for a loan in advance of your home-buying search, you can get ahead of the game. Not only will you be able to demonstrate to sellers that you mean business, but you’ll also have a clearer understanding of your budget, helping you to narrow down your search.

We know all things finance can get a little tricky, but generally loans can be broken down into two simple categories: fixed or variable.

For fixed-rate loans, you sign on to pay the same interest for the entire duration of your mortgage. Although rates are gradually increasing, the NAR has noted that they still remain at historic lows as of 2021, so signing on for a fixed plan may make the most sense —  especially for buyers who appreciate a bit of predictability.

A variable loan is basically the exact opposite of that. With an adjustable-rate mortgage, your interest is variable, meaning that your lender can change it as the market fluctuates. So, if you’re going for the safer bet, we’d recommend a fixed-rate mortgage.

Once you decide between fixed or variable, you have several loan options to consider depending on your current financial situation:

Conventional mortgage

If you have a credit score at or above 620, private loans from the financial institution of your choice will likely be the best option for you. And, by putting a larger down payment forward, you’ll be able to get a better interest rate.

Be sure to give yourself the time to shop around. Look for a lender who has a competitive mortgage rate and the right payment plan for your needs.

A conventional loan is by far the most popular form of lending as it doesn’t have as strict of regulations on income, home type and location as other options out there. Traditionally, you’ll be paying either a set or variable interest rate on top of a monthly principal for about 30 years.


Interest-only loans are a unique type of mortgage in which borrowers only pay the interest rate for a set period of time. Often, this term expires in about five years, at which point you’ll need to pay for the interest and the principal, which about doubles your monthly mortgage payment.

If you are moving to an entirely new location and are looking to settle into a new job, an interest-only payment plan can help you build your finances back up after the initial move. Just be sure to keep an eye on the calendar so that you’re ready to pay the full amount when your interest-only term expires.


For those who qualify, the government offers several different types of loans to help make buying a house a little easier. Before working with a private lender, be sure to check whether you’re eligible for one of these federally insured mortgages, as they often come with much more accessible down payment requirements:

  • Federal Housing Administration: FHA loans offer both lower down payments and more flexible credit requirements for those who meet or are below a certain income threshold. The lowest score the FHA accepts is a 500 with 10% down, and you’ll also need to prove your employment history over the past two years.

  • The Department of Agriculture: The USDA offers loans with no down payment —  the only catch is that you’ll have to reside in an eligible rural area and have a minimum credit of 640. You can check on the USDA website to see if the market you’re interested in is eligible.

  • Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans, active service members and qualifying spouses can potentially be eligible for a VA loan. These typically offer low-cost mortgages and less strict credit requirements. For Native American veterans, there are also direct loans available for building or renovating on Federal Trust land.

If you plan to use a government-backed loan, it’s especially wise to start the loan approval process in advance. This way, you know if you’ll need to be searching for a home with any specific geographic limitations.

With all of the options available for home buyers when it comes to getting a loan, you’ll be sure to find the right payment plan for your unique financial needs. And, once you do, Bungalo is happy to work with your preferred lender so that you can move ahead with confidence.

How to prepare to buy a house, part 3: Closing the deal

Congratulations! You’ve been approved for your loan, you’ve found your dream home and your offer has finally been accepted.

So … now what?

While the exact timeline may vary, first-time buyers are often surprised to learn that closing can take anywhere from one to two months. Although being pre-approved helps to speed things along, there are still a few important steps (and costs) to manage before you can actually move in:

Home inspection

Home inspections are conducted by a certified expert who looks for any potential hazards around the property, such as bad wiring or major structural issues.

The average price for an inspection of a single-family house comes in around $300 to $450 dollars. However, depending on the size of your home and any unexpected complications (translation: mold or termites), that rate can quickly go up.

Although there’s no law that requires a buyer or seller to conduct an inspection, many lenders will include it as a contingency in the loan. Plus, if you catch any major issues before move-in day, you’ll often be able to work with the sellers to ensure the cost is fairly managed. Without one, you can expect to foot the full bill later on.

If you’re looking to skip this cost, we can help. At Bungalo, all of our homes receive top-to-bottom inspections so that you don’t have to worry about any unexpected surprises. Move in with the confidence that your home has been expertly certified and use $500 toward something more fun — maybe that dining set you’ve been eyeing or a new game room setup?

Closing costs and other expenses

Closing costs represent all of the additional fees and charges you’ll need to pay to finalize the sale of your new home.

In addition to paying for your home inspection, closing costs also include:

  • Appraisal: Your lender will require that you verify the value of your home to ensure that the loan is priced correctly. Having a certified appraiser come to the property and conduct their inspection can cost anywhere from $300 to $400 dollars. Similar to your inspection, this rate goes up depending on the size of the house.
  • Loan-related fees: There are several additional charges that are tied up in your loans. While these can vary depending on your lender agreement, they often include an application fee, any pre-paid interest requirements and the attorney’s fee if your state requires a lawyer to be present at closing.

  • Mortgage fees: Depending on how large of a down payment you make and whether your home is insured by a government-backed agency, you’ll likely have to pay for additional mortgage insurance.

On top of all of this, your total closing costs will also include property taxes and title fees.

Still with us? We appreciate it. That grocery list of expenses can definitely get overwhelming pretty quickly.

To make a long story short, when it comes to how much cash you’ll really need to close on your home, the NAR says a homebuyer should expect to pay on average between 2% and 5% of the total loan amount.

Alternative real estate options and the home buying process

There are definitely more than a few hurdles to jump before you can close on your new house and finally move in. While the traditional path to purchase can be a tricky one, it doesn’t have to be like that anymore.

That’s why we created Bungalo. Because we think finding and buying a home should be as simple as possible.

With Bungalo, you can tour a house from the comfort of your couch, no appointment required. Once you do find the home of your dreams (we know it’s out there), all you have to do is click to create your digital offer. And that endless list of closing fees? Navigate it like a real estate pro with our step-by-step checklist.

As your partner in all things real estate, Bungalo is here to take the confusion out of buying a home so that you can move in as soon as possible.

Check out our blog and learn more about homeownership.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

Picture this: you find your perfect house in the perfect city for the perfect price. Everything’s just like you always wanted it to be — but there’s a catch. This house is for sale by owner, or FSBO.

What do you do? Where do you turn? Are your dreams of a simple, stress-free purchase about to be dashed for good?

Actually, you’re not out of luck. Although the communication process is different when a home seller isn’t represented by a real estate agent, it is possible to buy a house from owner without complications, stress or legal trouble. It takes a little more work, but with the right information up your sleeve, you’ll be settling into your new place in no time.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Buying a home from the owner: breaking down the process

Different states have different laws when it comes to selling by owner. Knowing these laws is the FSBO seller’s responsibility, but it’s just as helpful for a home buyer to know what’s legal and what isn’t. Doing your research can also help you get a better deal in the long run.

Here’s how to buy a house from owner:

Finding a home

The first step in the moving process is to find a house you’re absolutely in love with. That can involve learning more about ideal cities, talking to local residents, meeting with real estate agents or just searching on your own. However, if you’re interested in “for sale by owner” properties specifically, you may need to take a few extra steps.

Because a home seller doesn’t necessarily have the same tools and connections as a professional real estate agent, they may list their property with criteria that your search engine doesn’t bring up right away. Keep this in mind when house-hunting and be prepared to look — and think — outside the box.

Creating a purchase agreement

Once you’ve found an interesting home and are ready to take the next step, it’s time to make an offer by creating a purchase agreement or purchase contract. This helps protect both you and the seller from legal loopholes or other unexpected disputes.

According to The Balance, this is where a real estate agent can be especially helpful. Navigating all that legalese yourself can be tricky — not to mention stressful. Real estate agents help you write and review offers that won’t back you into a corner legally or financially.

It’s also important to put a “backup plan” in writing. Adding contingencies to your purchase agreement allows you to back out of an offer if something goes wrong — for example, you find a serious issue with the foundation that would cost thousands to repair. The FSBO seller will likely have contingencies of their own, so expect to agree to financial stipulations (like getting mortgage approval before the deal goes through). 

Getting a home inspection

Home inspections are your chance to find out exactly what you’re getting into. Working with a licensed home inspector will keep you from stumbling into any trouble — plus, more experienced inspectors will know just where to look to make sure your future home isn’t hiding any nasty secrets.

Here are a few issues that might be revealed by a home inspection:

  • Water damage
  • Mold
  • Structural issues
  • Faulty wiring
  • Plumbing problems
  • Insects or other pests

If one or more of these problems is present in your future home, the specific wording in your purchase agreement determines what your options are. For example, if the issue is severe, you may be able to back out of the deal — or, if you’re still interested in the property, you may be able to get the home seller to pay for some or all of the necessary repairs.

Managing your money

In the traditional home buying process where everyone is represented by a real estate agent, sellers pay the agent commission for both parties. Since a home seller has chosen not to work with an agent of their own in a “for sale by owner” scenario, the rules are a little different — but the chances are, you’ll still benefit. Often, even for a FSBO property, the seller pays your agent’s commission, which means you save on closing costs.

However, that’s not the only way a FSBO listing could make it easier to manage your money. Depending on the local real estate market and the condition of the home, you could offer less than the listing price. Because home sellers aren’t experts and can be less comfortable negotiating costs, you’re more likely to get your dream home for a dream price.

Setting a realistic timeline

Buying a home is a delicate balancing act, especially if you’re selling your own home at the same time. To make sure everything goes according to plan, it helps to know how long each step will take. Here’s how a FSBO timeline compares to other buying processes:

Buying with cash

According to Forbes, buying with cash is your fastest option. You won’t have to wait for a mortgage company to review and approve your application, and there will be no back-and-forth as you negotiate terms or payments. In fact, this whole process might only take a few days.


Forbes also explained that closing on a house when financing is involved takes considerably longer — sometimes up to two months. Different loans have different timelines, too, so there’s a lot to consider.

For sale by owner

FSBO deals complicate the timeline estimation process. Because so many steps leave the ball in the home seller’s court, it’s up to them to decide how long it takes to close on the property. Knowing how to navigate each step — especially by writing due dates and time requirements into your purchase agreement — helps you make sure everything is done in a timely manner.

Pros and cons of buying a home from the owner


Many home buyers seek out FSBO properties because they hope the process will be simpler without the added complication of so many third parties — like real estate agents or a real estate attorney.

However, as a home buyer, you have the option to work with an agent or attorney even if the home seller doesn’t. That’s good news, because it means you can get paperwork and other legal steps taken care of and still have the seller pay your agent’s commission — which lowers your closing costs overall.


Home sales involve a lot of steps — and when sellers take each of those steps without recommendations or guidance, mileage may vary. For example, experienced sellers could create a smooth, stress-free home sale because they know the ins and outs of the market, legal language, process and more. However, first-time home sellers may not have all the information necessary to navigate each step, resulting in wasted time and potential legal issues.

When considering a FSBO deal, make sure to know what you’re getting into — and, most importantly, know how to protect yourself legally and financially.

Financing your home purchase when buying from owner

Watching home values

To make sure you’re getting the best deal when buying from owner, it’s important to keep an eye on the local real estate market. Know the prices houses are selling for in your area so you don’t end up paying too much.

When looking for comparables, consider things like:

  • Condition of home
  • Location
  • Square footage
  • Property size
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms

Protecting your savings

According to USA Today, it usually takes 14 years to save for a down payment on a home. This equates to different amounts of money depending on your yearly salary and spending habits, but it’s a good benchmark to help you make sure you have enough money saved before you begin the home buying process.

When you do have that down payment or earnest money, don’t give it directly to a home seller, especially in a FSBO deal. Instead, as recommended by The Balance, leave the down payment with a third party.

First steps in financing

Whether you’re buying from an owner or working with real estate agents, one step is absolutely necessary: getting preapproved for a mortgage.

When you get a preapproval letter from a bank or mortgage lender, you have proof that someone is willing to finance your home purchase. It isn’t a guarantee of any details like interest rate or payments, and either party can back out later — but it is your first step toward securing reliable financing for your new place.

Mortgage preapproval makes the home buying and financing process easier, faster and less prone to error. That’s especially important when buying a “for sale by owner” property, because home sellers like to know that you’ve come prepared. This step may also be required by your purchase agreement, as it protects sellers from wasting time on a deal that isn’t going to go through anyway.

Alternative approaches to finding and buying a house

If buying a “for sale by owner” property sounds like a lot of work, stress or potential trouble, don’t worry — there are plenty of other ways to get your dream home.

Here are a few things to consider when looking for alternative approaches:

Unique listings

In particularly hot markets, competition for a single property can be fierce. Searching Bungalo listings, however, means you’ll be able to find unique properties that other buyers may not have seen yet.


Remember that home sales are quickest when buyers bring cash to the table. However, that’s not the only way to speed up the timeline. Look for home sellers who are particularly motivated — for example, they’re trying to secure financing on a new home and need to sell their current property first — or experienced agents who know how to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Closing costs

If you’re looking to save on closing costs, not all home buying processes are created equal. Keep in mind that traditional deals, where both parties have an agent, can have a lot of associated fees, while FSBO deals are cheaper for home buyers but can be complex. The solution? Buy direct from Bungalo without an agent and save thousands of dollars in closing costs.

Home certifications

Remember how you need to write contingencies into your purchase agreement to protect yourself during a “for sale by owner” deal? That type of backup plan isn’t necessary when working with Bungalo — and that’s because all Bungalo houses are certified and guaranteed, meaning they’ve been thoroughly inspected for issues big and small. They even come with one-year warranties so you know your dream home will still be your dream home even after moving in.

Skip the stress with help from Bungalo

Although buying a “for sale by owner” home is one way to save money, it may not be the easiest — or the least stressful. If it’s a quick, simple, stress-free and even guaranteed buying process you’re looking for, skip all those extra steps and buy from Bungalo instead.

With exclusive listings, home certifications and all the answers you’ll ever need, Bungalo is your best bet for getting into that dream house without tearing your hair out along the way. Start searching today and get home a whole lot faster.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

So, you’ve decided to buy a house in Atlanta. This is an exciting move, but one that’s going to take some thought and planning.

Whether you’re a longtime resident looking to move into a nicer place or a recent transplant, you’re getting involved in a very active real estate market. How quickly you find a great place to live may depend on the approach you take to being a homebuyer.

But of course, the speed of your Atlanta house search isn’t the most important part: This is a home you’ll hopefully live in for years to come, so you have to make sure you find the perfect match for your needs, with no underlying issues that could make your stay uncomfortable or require lots of work once you’ve moved in.

With that said, it’s time to dive into the state of the Atlanta housing market. By learning what’s driving demand for houses in the area, and the patterns of pricing and availability, you can set yourself up to land in the perfect new home.

Navigating the Atlanta real estate market

While 2020 was a year of disruption and instability in many ways, that didn’t mean people stopped buying and selling houses. Atlanta’s real estate sector stayed red hot, with buying and selling activity keeping up a torrid pace.

Waiting for a market cooldown: Bad idea?

While there might be some temptation to wait for a “normal” period in the market, that plan may not work out as you’re hoping. After all, data processed by the Atlanta Real Estate Forum reveals that the last time the Atlanta market expanded at a normal rate was in 2002, 20 years ago.

Constant increases in housing demand have coupled with a decrease in new construction — caused by supply chain strain in the wake of COVID-19. What does this mean for your home search? In practical terms, you may be one buyer competing with plenty of others.

Being a buyer in a seller’s market doesn’t have to be stressful or hectic, provided you take a smart approach. For example, if you choose to purchase your next home through Bungalo, making an offer becomes one seamless step — no bidding wars or tension about whether your offer has been accepted. And with all renovations already taken care of, there’s no worries about constrained supply chains preventing essential work.

The most intense period of housing demand may have been the fall of 2020. The Atlanta Business Chronicle pointed out a few shocking estimates that show just how hot the housing market was during those months: Homes were selling in 16 days on the market, with two-thirds of 2020 homebuyers making their initial offers before touring the house in person.

That real estate fervor may have dimmed a little, but the factors that have driven it are still in play — supply of homes is limited, mortgage loan interest rate averages are low, and younger first-time homebuyers are interested in making purchases.

New construction prepares to ramp up

While builders have recently been constrained by a lack of reliable supply chains, building will continue for years to come around the Atlanta metro era — considering the population growth going on, it simply has to.

Housing inventory in Atlanta grew 33% between May and July 2021, but the Atlanta Real Estate Forum noted that this only raised the available supply of houses from 0.7 months to one month.

A single month of supply is still the mark of a red-hot real estate market. That’s bad news if you were hoping for a slow and leisurely stroll through the home buying process. In another way, however, it’s reassuring — your decision to move to Atlanta is backed by thousands of other people making the same choice. The city and its neighboring areas are experiencing real estate boom times, and homeowners are excited to be there.

To make the most of new construction, you can buy through Bungalo. Newly built houses are coming to the Bungalo inventory, providing a promising way to gain a foothold in the fast-paced Atlanta real estate market.

Pick your ideal area of the city

Finding the right Atlanta area for you revolves around a few questions — what kind of commute are you looking for? In just about every part of the city or its surrounding suburbs, you’ll be driving. U.S. News & World Report points out that Atlanta is a car-centric city, with the downtown core served by streetcars and some light rail reaching the rest of the area.

Commutes from the north of downtown tend to be shorter than those from the south. If you plan to fly out of the city fairly often, however, the south has its own attraction — proximity to the large and busy Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The city is ringed with a variety of suburbs and attractions ranging from natural wonders to a Six Flags amusement park. Your perfect location in or around the Atlanta area will depend on what kind of balance you want in life — bustling vs. calm, skyscrapers vs. trees, long drives vs. buses and trains. To Atlanta’s credit, the metro area can give you all of these experiences and more.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle adds that more than one homeowner rearranged their priorities during the era of widespread pandemic shutdowns and working from home. Being confined to one’s house is more comfortable when it’s a larger single-family home with room to spread out, potentially in the suburbs.

You can keep your eyes open for the long tail of this trend, with some of those roomier houses potentially off the market — or maybe some going back on as the appeal of downtown Atlanta and the city nightlife peaks again. As the appeal of various Atlanta neighborhood areas ebbs and flows, you’ll need to keep a close eye on listings to find a house that checks all your boxes.

Living in Atlanta

What will you discover in Atlanta once you’ve signed the documents and moved into your new home? Those already from Atlanta know what the city has to offer, but what if you’re coming in from further out?

If you’re moving in from out of state, your first surprise may be a very positive one. Despite the ever-rising population and hot housing market, U.S. News & World Report found that Atlanta has a low cost of living for a city its size. With reasonable prices for everyday items, your dollars can go further in Georgia.

Another fun surprise for transplants from further north is the mild winters. An average winter temperature of 45.3 degrees Fahrenheit may affect your house hunting. There’s less need to find a house that will be easy to dig out of a snowstorm or heat on a subzero morning in the warm Georgia climate. As for the summers? You may want to find central air conditioning — the average summer temperature is 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Living in Atlanta also means being close to cultural and arts venues, as well as plenty of sports. MLB, NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLS. If you’re coming from a less populated area, you’ll soon realize that Atlanta is a true city with all the attractions you could want. A zoo, an aquarium, numerous parks, and outdoor spaces — they’re all present and accounted for.

When you add in the number of well-loved restaurants and historical sites in and around Atlanta, you’re looking at an exciting place to live, whether you’re moving there for your job or simply heading to the city to start your next chapter.

Speeding up the real estate buying process

So, you want to move to a new home while navigating a historically hot Georgia real estate market. How can you make sure the home sale process isn’t too difficult and stressful? You can try Bungalo.

Bungalo homes have been thoughtfully renovated by our in-house design and construction teams, pre-inspected, and certified by experts. This means everything from the structure to electricity to HVAC has been checked out. If a covered issue comes up unexpectedly in your first 90 days, you have full protection.

Perhaps most relevant for the scorching Atlanta real estate market, you don’t have to compete in buyer bidding wars when you make a Bungalo offer. With a mortgage lender preapproval letter in hand, you submit your documents online. If the offer is accepted, that’s it — you’re in.

Bungalo listed homes are visible on a user-friendly map view. Just type in the city you’re looking for — in this case, Atlanta — and you’ll immediately see what’s on the market, the approximate home value of each, and where they’re located.

By taking away the complex and tension-building parts of real estate, you can end up with just the fun of it, seeking out your dream home in an exciting city. Start looking now.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

Whether you were born and raised in Georgia or you’re looking to relocate from another state, Atlanta is a great city to consider. Between the nice weather, top-notch dining spaces, collegiate opportunities, and job options, Atlanta is at the top of Bungalo’s list of best places to live. There’s something for everyone from the young professional looking to explore the area to the traditional family who wants to settle down.

If you’re interested in buying a home in Atlanta, it’s important to first understand the state of the market. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect when browsing the Atlanta housing market, the reasons to consider calling this city home, and how exploring Bungalo Certified homes can ease the buying process.

Exploring real estate market trends

The current state of the housing market across the nation is hot — yet sporadic. It’s without a doubt a seller’s market. That’s because the demand for homes is higher than ever, and the pandemic has a lot to do with it. Low mortgage rates, opportunities to work from home and less frivolous spending on the weekends has many people saving their money and willing to put a lot down on a new home.

According to the S&P Core Logic Case-Shiller Index, the start of 2021 saw a 11.2% gain in home prices, up 10.4% from December 2021. But mortgage rates also fell at this time.

In the midst of a pandemic, lots of families and single individuals received regular stimulus payments. Not only that, but they also cut back on spending in terms of dining out, going on vacations, and other entertainment options. In other words, money that would normally be used on a regular basis was instead being saved. This made it possible for house hunters to explore more expensive housing options or consider a large down payment, giving a short-term boost to the market.

Just like the rest of the country, Atlanta is feeling the impact of the market boom. According to the Atlanta REALTORS® Association, the median sales price was $345,000 in April 2021, an increase of 16.9% from the previous year. The average Atlanta home price was $426,000, up 21.5% from April 2020.

“Inventory decreases appear to have stabilized over the last few months, albeit, at an extremely low level of only 1.2 months supply,” ARA president Cynthia Lippert shared. “Sales are continuing to remain strong with an impressive 28% increase over 2020.”

Atlanta real estate is certainly a seller’s market, which can make it more difficult for buyers to meet the list price and secure their spot in an Atlanta neighborhood. Lippert stated:

“This increased activity comes at a price making affordable housing more elusive for an increasing percentage of buyers,” she said.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible to find a dream home right now, however. Lower mortgage rates mean making lower monthly payments, which can make that listed home price less intimidating and more attainable. So as long as you can put a large percentage down and meet all other pre-approval housing requirements, your head is still in the game.

Reasons to buy a home in Atlanta

If you’re a buyer exploring the metro area and Atlanta market, there are many reasons to consider calling this area home:

The weather. Atlanta is an all-season state, but the weather is generally mild and you can plan your agenda accordingly. Whether you want to check out the dining scene in the Atlanta metro area or explore the downtown outskirts and hike Piedmont Park in midtown Atlanta, the seasonal change gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family outdoors.

The educational opportunities. Some of the best colleges exist in the Atlanta area, according to U.S. News & World Report. Georgie State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, and the Art Institute of Atlanta are among the educational institutions you can explore as a new graduate or working professional living in Atlanta.

The Bungalo Certified homes. You don’t have to browse the Atlanta market with a real estate investor. You can take the stress out of searching for your living space as a home buyer and browse Bungalo Certified homes online instead. Essentially, a Bungalo Certified home is inspected from top to bottom and put on the market with quality control in mind. Worried about moving into a space with a dated HVAC or electrical system? We certify all of those things you care about the most. Plus, if you have any issues after closing, or the home isn’t up to par with your expectations, we’ll cover anything that doesn’t meet our Bungalo Certification standards for 90 days after your closing date.

Buy a Bungalo Certified home in Atlanta

Buying a home during the current state of the market can be an overwhelming process. Between booking an open house appointment, putting in an offer, and playing bid wars with dozens of different buyers, it can be weeks or even months before you get the chance to purchase a home. But it shouldn’t be this difficult, time-consuming, or headache-inducing to move into your next home in Atlanta.

At Bungalo, we’ve designed a home buying process that goes beyond the traditional route and doesn’t come with any costly or stressful surprises. First, you can schedule a self-tour of your favorite homes whenever it’s most convenient for you. As soon as you’re ready to make an offer, we’ll work with any mortgage lender of your choice. All we need from you is a pre-approval letter.

No negotiations or bidding wars take place — simply submit your offer online and quickly see if you’ve been approved.

And once you’re ready to close on your new Bungalo Certified home, we’ll be there every step of the way with a checklist to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Are you ready to start looking for Atlanta Bungalo Certified homes for sale? Browse for your next dream living space today.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

You’re looking at real estate listings in your area (or a brand new locale) and thinking, “I can buy one of these.” But is the price you see really the price you get? The answer, more often than not, is an emphatic “NO.”

Besides the cost of actually buying your home, you’ll have to deal with the added fees and hidden costs that can come with taking out a home loan, finding and inspecting the right house, and closing. In addition, you’ll need to factor in the long-term expenses that go along with actually owning a home, including monthly mortgage payment, utility bills, property taxes, and the cost of renovations and general maintenance. Taken together, these can significantly inflate the price tag of a home and put real estate you thought was in your budget suddenly out of reach.

So, what’s the best way to determine the real cost of your next home purchase? The answer comes down to plenty of research, saving, an understanding of each extra fee, and buying from a service that’s upfront with you every step of the way.

How to prepare for the costs of home buying

The homebuying process isn’t just something you can jump into. Instead, you’ll need to plan ahead, get an understanding of what will be expected of you and the current state of the real estate market. Hopefully, your reconnaissance mission confirms what you already knew — that you have the finances to buy — right now.

Do your research

Research, research, research. At every stage of the buying process, it’s important to remember that the more information you have, the better. If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the homebuying process, getting acquainted (by reading sources like the Bungalo’s blog) will be a good starting point. From there, take a look at listings in the area you want to move to get a good idea of what the real estate market is like.

Make a savings plan

Making a savings plan is a good way to ensure financial stability moving forward. The cost of owning a home will remain even after the closing documents are signed, so having a strong savings account will be essential. How much of each paycheck you want to put away will depend on how much you’re currently spending on housing (ideally it should be less than a quarter of your monthly income) and what kind of debt you also need to pay off.

Get pre-approved

You may think there’s a certain amount you can spend each month on your mortgage. Your lender, however, may have other ideas. The preapproval process is when a lender looks at your financial information — including factors like salary, credit score, and existing debt — and tells you how much you’re able to take out a loan for. In some cases, it may make sense to talk to multiple lenders, get a loan estimate from each and see which offers you the best rate.

The upfront cost of buying a home

Once you’ve been preapproved, it’s time to start looking for a home in earnest. Even once you’ve found your dream house and reached an agreement with the owner, you’ll need to secure the purchase by paying out the upfront costs — or the initial payments. These include:

Earnest money

Earnest money, also known as good faith money, is the money that you give to the seller before a deal is finalized to show you’re in a financial position to pay the rest. This payment is usually made through an escrow account, which means that a trusted third party holds on to your money until the deal is finalized.

Down payments

While they’re often talked about similarly, there’s actually a big difference between earnest money and your down payment, if you have one. While earnest money is put on the table to incentivize a final deal and down payment is the initial payment you’ll be making on your home. This can be anywhere from 3-5% of the purchase price to a full cash offer if you have that kind of money on hand. Remember, the more you can pay upfront the lower and shorter your monthly mortgage payment will be.


It’s always good to know what exactly you’re buying when you’re buying it. The flat fee of hiring an inspector could potentially save you thousands of dollars down the road.

In today’s competitive market, many buyers are trying to get the edge in the bidding process. A great way to sidestep this problem entirely? Purchase a Bungalo home. All Bungalo homes come with a third-party home inspection report that was performed upon the completion of the renovations. Having this information gives buyers peace of mind and an advantage on today’s market since they can act quickly on purchasing a Bungalo home. Bungalo also recommends that all buyers get their own home inspection.

Closing cost

At this point, you’ve inspected the home, been approved for the mortgage, and reached an agreement with the seller. Now it’s time to seal the deal. This stage is called closing and, while essential, it can add significantly to the total price of your new home. Much of this will come in the form of fees associated with your mortgage loan — including fees for a real estate attorney and an application fee. You’ll also need to pay what’s called either an origination or loan origination fee. This is a payment for the cost of evaluating your loan application and determining that you’re able to pay what you say you can. A part of this fee is typically used to cover paying for a notary. Many lenders will also charge you in advance for the interest on the first month of your mortgage during the close.

In addition to the mortgage-related costs, there are several other fees and extras that will add to the total closing cost. These include:

  • Recording fee: Every home or land purchase needs to be recorded by the state — a cost typically covered by the buyer. According to the Home Buying Institute, the average cost nationwide is $125, although the amount in your state could vary greatly.
  • Title services: The process of transferring the title of a home from its previous owner to you can be an expensive one. This will usually include optional title insurance (notably, this is different from homeowners insurance) and a transfer tax.
  • Appraisal fee: An appraiser is a professional hired to identify the “true” value of a home.

A handy checklist or closing cost calculator tool can help you determine what to expect for closing in your area.

Recurring costs associated with homeownership

The furniture’s in the right place and the walls are painted just the way you want. The family’s all here. Your new house is starting to truly feel like a home. Just because you’re out of the home buying process, however, doesn’t mean you’re done paying

Some recurring costs you’ll probably see once all the ink has dried on your title and mortgage include:

  • Your monthly mortgage payment: This is the big one. Each month, you’ll be expected to pay a set share of your mortgage loan. The amount will depend on your interest rate and how many years your mortgage is for.
  • Utilities: Day after day, month after month, your utilities, such as electricity, internet, water can add up. Each is a part of homeownership that can’t be forgotten.
  • HOA and other membership fees: If you’ve purchased a home in a community with a homeowners association (HOA) or condominium association, you’ll have to pay dues. These fees vary in price depending on what the association offers its residents. Services can include anything from lawn care to trash removal.
  • Property taxes: You’ve probably heard the expression, “there’s nothing certain but death and taxes.” The idiom stands, even in the unpredictable world of homeownership. What’s a little less predictable is the amount of property taxes you’ll need to pay each year. In fact, there’s quite a bit of variance across states and municipalities. In most places, your taxes will go up with the value of your home.
  • Maintenance costs: Once upon a time, you probably called on a landlord when a dishwasher stopped working or you noticed a hole in the attic wall. Those days are over. As a new homeowner, it’s now on you to handle any maintenance issues that come up and put in the regular work to prevent extra expensive surprises. This can mean anything from having your roof regularly inspected to buying new appliances.

With so many recurring costs that need to be factored into your calculations, it’s important to understand that getting approved for a mortgage loan is just the beginning.

Move-in ready vs. a fixer-upper: Which offers the most value?

The costs that will come with your new home after close will also vary depending on the kind of home you’ve purchased. Will you need to do significant work on a new abode to turn it into your dream home? If so, is it the kind of work you can do yourself or will you need to hire contractors? If you answered yes to both those questions, then you’ve probably purchased a fixer-upper.

The appeal and challenges of a fixer-upper

We get it: There’s something truly romantic about turning a run-down piece of property into the home of your dreams. Buying a fixer-upper — a term for a home that’s on the cheaper side and a little rundown but has a lot of potential — may mean a lower monthly mortgage but it also means an additional time commitment, extra costs in contractor fees, and potential quality control issues.

Of course, the total costs of renovating a fixer-upper may wind up being far more than you bargained for. Depending on the state you live in, your property taxes will also increase as the value of your home does with each renovation.

Value you can trust in a move-in ready home

In contrast to a fixer-upper, move-in-ready home is a property that will take no extra work or payments on your part to live in. In addition to not requiring a contractor for basic needs like insulation or a foundation, move-in-ready homes are more likely to have the features and amenities you’re looking for.

At Bungalo, we ensure that all of our homes are move-in ready and meet the standards of our Bungalo Certified guarantee. That includes:

  • Multiple rounds of inspections: Before we even list a home on Bungalo, it undergoes multiple rounds of inspections — including by a third party. You can view our final inspection report on the home’s listing page before even setting foot inside.
  • 90-day Post Close Protection: If any part of your new home doesn’t meet our Bungalo Certified standards, we’ll cover it for the first 90 days after close. That’s plenty of time to uncover any issues that may arise.
  • A one-year warranty: Luckily, our assistance doesn’t end at the 90-day mark. Your purchase also includes a free third-party home warranty. How’s that for added peace of mind?

From a sturdy foundation to top-of-the-line renovations you can move into any Bungalo home with confidence.

Buying the easy way with Bungalo

Post-close peace of mind isn’t the only way Bungalo can make the search for the next home simpler — and maybe even cheaper — than you ever expected. We do things a little differently at each stage of the home-buying process. Here’s how it works:

  • Work with the mortgage lender of your choice: Get preapproved with the lender of your choice. Whoever offers the best deal for you, we’re happy to work with them.
  • Make a paperless offer: You can submit your offer online in minutes. No guesswork needed.
  • “No Hassle” pricing: Bungalo homes accept the list price on a first-come, first-served basis. That means every willing and able homebuyer has an equal opportunity to own one of our homes.
  • Closing assistance: We offer an easy-to-use closing checklist that ensures you’ve done everything you need to hit your move-in-day target.

There’s a lot that goes into buying a house. Bungalo takes a few of these logistics off your checklist. If you know you have the finances to make buying a reality, Bungalo can help you close like a pro.

Learn more about who we are, and how we help potential buyers find the home of their dreams.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.