The decision to buy a home in Saint Charles or a surrounding area is an exciting one! At Meyer Real Estate, it is our goal to be an advocate for our clients, and ensure their wants and needs are met in the property they choose.

Our agents understand that there are deal breakers and must-haves when buying a house. They work with clients to navigate their options and set expectations. Our agents also know the process can be overwhelming for first-time homebuyers (and those who haven’t purchased a home in a while!). We strive to make sure questions are answered and concerns are addressed.

When selecting a real estate agent to help you buy a home, it is important to find someone who is familiar with the area. Factors such as zoning laws, flood planes, the local scene, homeowner association fees, safety statistics and more can change depending on the neighborhood or municipality. Meyer Real Estate has agents who specialize in helping people buy homes throughout the St. Louis metropolitan region, including in:

  • St. Charles City
  • St. Charles County
  • New Town St. Charles
  • Historic St. Charles
  • St. Peters
  • Cottleville
  • Wentzvillve
  • Lincoln County
  • Chesterfield
  • North County
  • Florissant
  • St. Louis County
  • Lake St. Louis

 

Connect with an Agent

Meyer Real Estate has been helping people find and buy their homes since 1959. It all comes down to experience and knowledge, and our agents have both. Learn more about our skilled team here or contact the Meyer Real Estate office below to schedule a time to meet with one of our realtors.

How to Buy a Home: FAQs

Getting pre-approved is not required, but it is a very good idea. Many people assume lending won’t be a problem, especially if they’ve borrowed money for a car or a large purchase before, but real estate lending is much more involved. And it is incredibly difficult to search for a home if you don’t know how much money you will be able to borrow or what lending program will give you the best results. A good lender can help you determine what price range you can afford, exactly what you will need to do to secure a loan and what down payment options are available to you.

If you need advice on which lenders to contact, do reach out to a real estate agent. We are always happy to recommend lenders who have done a good job for our clients in the past, and we usually know who has the best track record in the industry.

The best thing to do is ask a lender. However, to establish a general guideline, you can use basic ratios of income. A bank will usually look at what is called a debt-to-income ratio or “back-end ratio” to determine your borrowing potential. The ratio consists of your total monthly debt payments, including the potential home payment, compared to your monthly income. Most banks and lenders are looking for a debt figure that does not exceed approximately 45 percent of your monthly income. Remember: This can be used only as a general guide, because there are far more factors that will ultimately determine your loan.

For example, some types of debt and income can be excluded from the ratio. Also, overtime is counted differently, and a 1099 earner will be handled differently than a W2 earner. Additionally, ratio requirements vary between lending programs and depending on credit scores. For all of these reasons, it is always best to ask a lender directly. A professional lender will be able to walk you through the process rather quickly and help you much more effectively determine what purchase price range you should be envisioning.

The ideal is to have 20 percent of the purchase price of a home saved for the down payment, which will qualify you for the best loan rates and require no private mortgage insurance (PMI). But that goal can be unrealistic for many people, and luckily there are other options.

Some special loan programs, like loans through the Veterans Benefits Administration (VA) or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), may require qualified buyers to put down as little as 0 percent. And a combination of loans from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) can yield a very small down payment. However, for all of these loans, there are specific qualifications you have to meet. Find the programs you qualify for by consulting a lender and having them explain what your best course of action is and (especially) why.

Most of the fees involved in purchasing a home are related to the loan and loan escrows, and they vary widely, but there are a few other costs that you may not know to factor into your plans. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Inspections: You will want to do inspections on the property before buying it, and the cost to conduct these inspections varies depending on your level of comfort with the property. Our realtors have found that general and termite inspections in the St. Charles area begin around $550 for a modest-sized house and can run to well over $1,400 if you add radon, sewer line, natural gas, water and septic inspections.
  • Closing costs: There will be upfront fees related to closing on the transaction, including lender fees, escrows, transferring the home’s title to you and any applicable subdivision fees and taxes. In general, you can expect the total closing expenses to be around 2-5 percent of the home’s purchase price.
  • Realtor fees: Some real estate companies will charge you a fee for buying through them. Remember, Meyer Real Estate does not!

You can read more here about what to expect when buying your first home here. When in doubt, it’s always best to ask your lender and real estate agent to explain all the costs you will be responsible for.

It is a common misconception that purchasing a house through a realtor is more expensive than attempting to do it all on your own. While some companies do charge a fee to assist you in buying a home, many, including Meyer Real Estate, do not. Instead, these companies are paid by the seller through a commission split with the listing agent. That means a buyer can be represented by a professional real estate agent at no additional cost. Representation includes:

  • Professional expertise and advice
  • Viewings of available homes
  • The completion of necessary paperwork
  • Guidance through a confusing process

Just be sure to discuss commission with any agent who offers to show you a home and determine if they intend to charge you a fee. Remember — Meyer Real Estate does not! Learn more about our real estate agents here.

First-Time Buyers

The first-time buyer program at the Missouri Housing Development Corp (MHDC) is an incredible opportunity to secure a secondary loan to help cover the down payment or closing costs on a new home. The best part? The loan is forgivable over time! When combined with other loan programs, it can bring out-of-pocket costs very low. And it’s a little-known fact that MHDC loans can be given to anyone who has not owned a home for the past 3 years!

First-time homeowners should also ask their bank about discounts for which they may be eligible.

Military & Veterans

The VA can assist service members, veterans and surviving spouses secure funding to purchase a home. Eligible individuals can use the VA for 100 percent financing and some favorable ratios. However, this benefit may be partially offset with an up-front charge, depending on the individual’s military status.

First Responders & Teachers

First responders and teachers may be eligible for the Good Neighbor program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program is area specific, so it is best to consult the listings on their website.

Rural Purchasers

Individuals looking to purchase a home in a rural area can utilize loans from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). There may be income requirements and the home must be located within a USDA-defined area, but this is a great 100-percent loan program to promote rural real estate.

Even if you don’t qualify for any of the above, many buyers use the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to lower their down payment needs. No matter what, a lender is best positioned to assist you in finding the loan that is most suitable to your situation.

There are many benefits to buying a home instead of renting, but just a few of our favorites include:

  • The rent won’t go up — unless you decide it should (by refinancing)
  • You’ll realize a potential capital gain (without a capital gains tax – mostly)
  • There are other tax advantages (like mortgage deductions)
  • You can take pride in ownership and the condition of the property
  • You’ll have the freedom to do whatever you want with it!

Of course, deciding when to rent and when to buy is a personal decision that should be made only after careful consideration of your own unique situation. Meyer Real Estate is proud to manage some wonderful rental properties in St. Charles County and the surrounding area. You can view available properties here. And when you decide you’re ready to buy, we’ll be ready to help you find the home of your dreams!

While the home-buying process will look different for everyone, most people find it follows a general path like this:

  1. Pick a lender. The homebuying process usually starts when you find a lender and figure out your price range. This may involve getting pre-approved.
  2. Start house-hunting! With the finances worked out, it’s time for the fun part: looking for your dream home. The time frame for this varies wildly. Some people look for one day, and some look for a year — it just depends on your personal goals and timelines.
  3. Make an offer. Once you find a home you love, you and your realtor will make an offer to the seller. An experienced realtor will be able to help you negotiate a fair contract. This takes, on average, around five days.
  4. Make a loan application and order inspections. When both parties have come to an agreement, you will make a formal loan application to your chosen lender, order the title to the home and order the appraisal and any building inspections you wish to have done on the home.
  5. Request repairs and wait. You and your realtor may decide to request the seller makes certain repairs to issues discovered during the inspection. This and the appraisal phase generally run together, taking about 15-25 days. After that, you will mostly likely have to wait for the formal loan commitment from your lender.
  6. Close! Three days before closing, you should have your closing figures. At closing, you will sign all the necessary paperwork to complete the purchase of your new home!

This entire process takes about 45 days, on average, but this timeline can be several weeks shorter or many months longer, depending on your loan. For example, a Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) or Veterans Benefits Administration (VA) loan will add a week to the process, while a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan can take even longer. It’s a good idea to speak with a lender about your timeframe before starting the process.

Homes are sold year-round, but trends show that most people buy houses in the spring, while almost no one buys around Christmas and New Year’s. This means it is likely there will be fewer houses on the market in the dead of winter, which will limit your choices but may allow you to secure a cheaper purchase price. On the other hand, you will have a much larger selection of houses for sale in the spring and summer — but there will also be more buying competition.