Buying a home—especially in a unique market like New Orleans—can be a little overwhelming if you don't know what to expect. Here are our answers to some of the most-asked questions from Big Easy buyers. And if you don't see the information you need, you can always reach out to us via phone, text, or email!
Frequently Asked Questions About Buying a Home in New Orleans
Where should I begin?
Good news—you've already started! Before you formally begin your search, it's crucial to gather plenty of information about the home-buying process through videos, articles, and other resources from local agents. Here are a few more ways you can prep for your move:
- Get familiar with your finances
- Research potential neighborhoods
- Reduce your debt
- Save up for a down payment
You may also want to take some time to connect with a real estate agent who specializes in your preferred area. By establishing a connection early on, you'll be able to ask plenty of questions and benefit from their home buying expertise.
How do I choose a loan?
Contrary to popular belief, mortgages are not a one-size-fits-all type of loan. There are actually dozens of different home loans, some of which are backed by banks, the government, or another type of lender. It's worth researching the types of mortgages you could qualify for—the more you educate yourself, the more money you'll save.
The type of loan that's best for you depends on several factors. You should consider:
- Interest rates (fixed or adjustable, as well as the percentage)
- The type of loan (conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, etc.)
- How much money you can spend on a down payment
- Your credit score
- Down payment/loan assistance programs
After you've settled on a mortgage, it's time to get preapproved. Being preapproved for a loan means you've been cleared to borrow a specific amount of money at a set interest rate by a lender. Once you have your preapproval letter in hand, both sellers and agents will view you as a more qualified buyer.
Why should I work with an agent?
Even if you're an experienced buyer, it's almost always worth working with an agent. The right real estate agent won't just help you find a home—they'll represent you at the negotiation table, answer any questions you might have, and guide you through any complicated paperwork at the closing. Here are a few more advantages to using a local agent for your next move:
- Having someone by your side that knows the NOLA market
- A local perspective on the unique neighborhoods in New Orleans
- Referrals to highly-rated service providers
- Getting answers to your questions during every step of the transaction
What should I look for in my next home?
This varies from buyer to buyer! Depending on your individual needs, you'll want to consider a home's size, location, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. It may also be helpful to create a list of wants and needs to narrow down your options. Here are a few more factors to keep in mind:
- What's around
- Local schools
Does New Orleans have any programs for home buyers?
Some of the best buyer assistance programs in New Orleans are actually offered by the government or local organizations. Let's take a look at some of the most popular options in our area:
- Direct Homebuyer Assistance Program: Eligible buyers can qualify for down payment and closing costs subsidies through the Office of Community Development.
- Own New Orleans: First mortgage and down payment assistance programs offered through Finance New Orleans, a local charity.
- Market Rate Conventional Program: A 30-year, fixed-rate loan available to buyers with a maximum allowed 80% AMI (Area Median Income) by Parish and household size.
What will I pay for my home upfront?
There are certain expenses you'll need to pay before getting the keys to your new home. Here's a basic breakdown of what you should expect:
- Earnest money: This is a type of security deposit you pay to the seller to show that you're serious about buying their home. After your offer is accepted, it is applied to your down payment or closing costs.
- Down payment: This is the amount of cash you have on hand to pay for a portion of your home. Most experts recommend putting down at least 20% of a home's purchase price, but some loans require no down payment at all.
- Closing costs: These are typically low for buyers and represent the fees for paperwork and lender charges.
What else should I expect to pay?
As you budget for your new home, a few more monthly expenses will be rolled up into your mortgage payment:
- Your lender may also collect property taxes and homeowners insurance.
- Don't forget to factor in the cost of utilities and HOA/condo fees, if applicable.
- Ask your agent about any other costs associated with your neighborhood.
I Still Have Questions!
We're here to help! Contact the Nugent-Freeland Team today to get the ball rolling on your next move. We've got plenty of resources to guide you in the right direction, and we're always on hand to chat with you about your real estate goals.
Need to sell before you buy? We can certainly help with that, too!