How to Buy a House in Kansas: A Homebuyer’s Guide

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Edited byAshley Jacobs
Edited byAshley Jacobs

Updated: April 26, 2023

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Zillow's home value index shows that Kansas's average home value is $216,078. MoneyGeek found that the average cost of a home in a state has increased by 10.1% in the last year.

However, Kansas is one of the cheapest states to buy a property, as the average home value across the U.S. is $357,589. There was a 13.5% increase in average home value across the country compared to the previous year.

Before you buy a home in Kansas, you must have information about mortgage rates, your ideal location, a home inspection, mortgage pre-approval and other essential details.

Key Takeaways

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MoneyGeek’s analysis shows that the average home value in Kansas is $216,078, which is an increase of 10.1% since last year.

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Before applying for a mortgage loan, consider if you meet the lender’s income, credit score and debt-to-income ratio requirements.

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The homebuying process in Kansas involves finding a suitable location, fulfilling mortgage requirements, conducting a home inspection and closing the mortgage loan.

Choose an Ideal Location

Your home’s location plays a vital role in not only its value but also your mortgage rates. Homes in busy cities tend to be more expensive than those in rural areas.

Besides location, other factors like neighborhood culture, recreational activities and access to amenities also significantly affect a property’s price.

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WORK WITH A REAL ESTATE AGENT

You can contact a real estate agent for assistance if you don’t understand where to start looking for your ideal home. The agent can negotiate the home’s price on your behalf, help you with the paperwork, give you an idea of the type of home you want and assist in the mortgage closing process.

Finding a suitable agent might be challenging. MoneyGeek recommends having a solid understanding of your needs before looking for an agent. You can ask your loved ones for recommendations.

A competent real estate agent should have the following characteristics:

  • Good communication skills
  • Knowledge of the local area
  • Understanding of the client’s needs
  • References
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CALCULATE THE COST OF LIVING

The cost of living generally varies depending on how rural or urban the neighborhood is. Since each area has a different cost of living, it’s best first to analyze your spending habits to know how much money you will need to live in a specific area.

Keep the following factors in mind when calculating the cost of living in a location:

  • Medical expenses
  • Taxes
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Insurance premiums
  • Education expenses

You can use MoneyGeek’s cost of living calculator to estimate how much you will spend based on your current location, the area you’re planning to move to and your yearly income.

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CONSIDER AFFORDABLE NEIGHBORHOODS

MoneyGeek’s research shows that the cost of living in Kansas is $1,745 per month, which is less than the national average cost of living of $2,112. This makes Kansas one of the most affordable places to live in the U.S. However, to save money, you can live in less affluent neighborhoods in the state.

Although you will save more when living in these areas, you most likely won’t have access to public services, recreational activities and other essential utilities. Some of the cheapest cities in Kansas include Geneseo, Chase and Bushton.

Calculate Mortgage Rates

Before applying for a mortgage loan, it’s essential to know the current mortgage rates. Since there are different types of mortgages, rates will vary based on which one you decide to apply for.

Lenders analyze your credit score, property price, location, down payment, loan amount, term and more to determine your rate.

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SEE YOUR MORTGAGE OPTIONS

Depending on your profile, lenders might offer you different types of mortgages, each having varying rates. If you want affordable rates, applying with a strong profile is best. For example, lenders will consider you less risky and give you cheaper rates with an excellent credit history.

On average, each 30-year mortgage loan type currently has the following interest rates:

Although some loan types have more favorable terms, they might have strict eligibility requirements. For instance, lenders only offer VA loans to veterans, active-duty service members and military officers' spouses.

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USE A MORTGAGE CALCULATOR

Compiling the necessary information about your mortgage rates and monthly payments is essential before applying for a loan. You can use MoneyGeek’s mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly mortgage payments and understand how adjusting your loan details will affect the cost of your loan.

Borrowers who can’t decide the best loan type based on their situation can benefit from MoneyGeek’s FHA vs. conventional loan calculator. It breaks down which loan will suit you best based on your profile.

You can start looking for different lenders when you get an estimate of your payments. The best way to choose the ideal lender is to shop around and compare rates.

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KNOW YOUR QUALIFICATIONS

Lenders will determine your loan terms after assessing your profile and financial standing. Based on MoneyGeek’s analysis, the following factors are important when applying for a mortgage loan with any lender:

  • Employment history: A stable employment history demonstrates that you have a regular source of income and are less likely to default on your debt payments.
  • Income level: Your income level must meet the lender’s requirements.
  • Credit score: Lenders analyze your credit history to understand if you will be a risky borrower. A strong credit score also lets you qualify for a better interest rate.
  • Debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: You must generally have a DTI ratio of 43% to qualify for a mortgage. However, each lender has different requirements.
  • Down payment: It’s usually 20% for most loans. However, some low-down-payment and no-down-payment options are also available.

Prepare Down Payment Requirements

Each mortgage loan has different down payment requirements and how much you put down affects your loan’s total cost. For example, if you opt for conventional loans, you must put in a 20% down payment. On the other hand, FHA loans only require a 3.5% down payment.

A higher down payment means lower monthly mortgage costs, while a lower down payment means higher monthly costs.

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DETERMINE DOWN PAYMENT REQUIREMENTS

To figure out your down payment requirement, you should consider loan types since each one has different requirements. Typically, conventional loans require at least a 20% down payment. On the other hand, you can opt for FHA loans if you can only afford a 3.5% down payment. VA and USDA loans do not require borrowers to put in a down payment.

It's also essential to consider the eligibility requirements of these types of loans. For instance, you can only get a USDA loan if you purchase a house in a USDA-designated rural region.

If you pay a high down payment, the monthly payment for your mortgage loan will be lower.

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CALCULATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE

Depending on your down payment, lenders may ask you to purchase mortgage insurance. This protects the lender if the borrower cannot repay the loan.

Low-down-payment programs, like USDA and FHA loans, make it mandatory for borrowers to purchase a mortgage insurance policy. If you opt for conventional loans and put down less than 20%, you must purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Although mortgage insurance isn’t mandatory with VA loans, only borrowers with a military background are eligible for this type of funding.

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DOWN PAYMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

While many lenders offer low-down-payment loans, it’s possible that many first-time homebuyers can’t afford a down payment due to their circumstances. Many national and state homebuyer programs are available in Kansas to make homeownership easy for these borrowers.

Based on MoneyGeek’s analysis, Kansas has the following programs for first-time homebuyers:

  • State of Kansas first-time homebuyers program: Income-eligible Kansas residents can get down payment assistance to purchase their first home through this program.
  • USDA loans: These help low-income individuals purchase their first home in USDA-designated rural areas across the U.S.

For more information, you can research first-time homebuyer programs in Kansas.

Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

You can apply for pre-approval once you have chosen your ideal lender. A pre-approval shows the seller that you can secure a mortgage loan, proving that you are a more serious buyer.

When you prequalify, the lender will let you know your loan terms and amount after analyzing your provided information. It doesn’t indicate that you can actually get a loan.

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GATHER NECESSARY DOCUMENTS

Applying for a mortgage pre-approval involves providing the lender with essential documents about your personal and financial information. You can contact the lender to ask which documents you might need to ensure you apply with sufficient information.

Based on MoneyGeek’s analysis, it’s best to prepare the following documents:

  • Social Security number
  • Photo ID
  • Bank statements
  • Tax returns
  • W-2 forms
  • Payroll stubs
  • Proof of real estate income
  • Investment account statements
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TIME YOUR PRE-APPROVAL

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is ideal before you start shopping around and comparing rates. Getting your pre-approval early will help you understand the essential details about your loan amount and give you enough time to prepare the necessary documents.

After you apply for pre-approval, the lender generally takes up to ten days to verify your information and issue you a pre-approval letter. However, the pre-approval letter expires in 60 to 90 days, so you will want to time your application accordingly.

Lenders don’t limit the number of times you can apply for mortgage pre-approval. However, they might perform hard credit checks for pre-approval, which can hurt your credit score.

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RECEIVE PRE-APPROVAL LETTER

A mortgage pre-approval letter demonstrates your financial ability to purchase a home. It includes an estimate of how much you can get based on your profile and other important factors. There’s no limit to how many pre-approval letters you can request, but each letter you get may hurt your credit score.

Pre-approval letters are typically only valid for 60 to 90 days and include the following information.

  • Loan amount
  • Loan Type
  • Interest rate
  • Maximum home purchase price

Each lender includes different information in the pre-approval letter. Some lenders may add more details.

Conduct a Home Inspection

There are many reasons why conducting a home inspection can significantly benefit the homebuyer.

A thorough home inspection by a licensed inspector can determine if the property you’re looking to purchase has any defects or safety issues. If any issues are detected, you can negotiate with the seller to lower the home price or fix them.

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CONTACT A LICENSED INSPECTOR

It’s essential to get your home inspection done by a licensed home inspector. They can evaluate your home’s structure and other features, making it easy for you to understand if the house has no issues and if purchasing it would be a safe investment.

A home inspector generally analyzes the following features of a house:

  • Doors and windows
  • Ceilings
  • Roof
  • Foundation
  • Interior
  • Cooling and heating systems
  • Overall structure

There are many types of home inspections, including the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems inspections, septic system inspections, plumbing inspections and more.

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FOLLOW KANSAS-SPECIFIC INSPECTIONS

Based on Kansas state laws, a home inspection isn’t mandatory to get a mortgage loan for first-time homebuyers. However, MoneyGeek still recommends getting a home inspection done to save money and stress in the long run. It’s also possible that your local laws may require it based on your location.

On average, getting your home inspected by a licensed home inspector can cost around $200 to $500. If your lender requires additional inspections, the cost will be higher.

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GO THROUGH APPRAISAL

To qualify for a mortgage loan, you must get a home appraisal done by a professional. This involves the evaluation of your home based on its structure, condition, location and other important factors. The appraiser then presents a report of how much your home is worth.

Home appraisal benefits the lender and the homebuyer because it ensures that you are not purchasing a home for more than it’s worth. The home appraiser completes the process and presents a report in seven to ten days.

Most lenders require you to have an appraisal done on the home you want to buy prior to releasing your mortgage loan.

Close Your Mortgage Loan

Once you go through your mortgage loan documents and review the details, you can begin closing your loan. Before you do that, it’s essential to analyze the appraisal report and provide the necessary documents.

You will also have to pay closing costs between 2% to 5% of the loan amount. These costs include various fees and expenses, including taxes, loan origination fees and more.

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SIGN ALL DOCUMENTS

Your lender will ask you to sign various documents during the closing process. You can have a look at them and sign them after going through them thoroughly. Although paperwork might differ based on the lender, you will generally sign the following documents:

  • Mortgage loan application
  • Deed of trust
  • Property transfer forms
  • Mortgage or promissory note
  • Closing disclosure

Although most of the information will be pretty straightforward, you can ask your lender for clarification if you don’t understand anything.

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PAY CLOSING COSTS

Mortgage closing costs include various expenses associated with finalizing a property's purchase. MoneyGeek found that the following fees may make up the closing cost:

  • Appraisal fee: This refers to the fee that a professional home appraiser charges, ranging from $200 to $500.
  • Attorney fees: This is the service fee of the attorney who prepares the home purchase contract and other mortgage-related documents.
  • Loan origination fees: The lender charges this fee for analyzing your information and preparing mortgage documents.
  • Mortgage insurance: You might have to pay the first year's mortgage insurance premium upfront, or the lender might ask for a lump sum payment.
  • Homeowners insurance premium: Before you finalize a mortgage loan, you must have purchased a homeowners insurance policy.
  • Lender's title insurance: The lender might require you to purchase this policy to protect them in case of any error in title search or dispute after the home is sold.
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COMPLETE YOUR HOME PURCHASE

You can find the best place to buy a house in Kansas by looking for the perfect location based on your needs, analyzing mortgage rates, assessing the lender’s down payment requirements and closing the mortgage loan after getting a home inspection conducted by a licensed home inspector.

You will get home ownership when the lender disburses the funds and the closing agent receives them. Then, you can begin making monthly mortgage payments according to your loan terms. To ensure you don’t miss a payment, consider setting up autopay.

Kansas Homebuying Details

Before you search for the best place to buy a house in Kansas, consider your lifestyle and other needs to determine which location and home will suit you best. The average home value in Kansas is less than that in the U.S., which means that the state is one of the cheapest locations to purchase a home.

Various national and state homebuyer programs can help borrowers purchase their first home. You can benefit from these programs if your financial situation doesn’t allow you to make a large down payment.

1
State of Kansas first-time homebuyers program

This provides down payment assistance to low-income borrowers in Kansas looking to purchase their first home.

2
Kansas Affiliates of Habitat for Humanity

If you qualify, volunteers will help you build or improve your first home through this program. You can begin by searching for your local Habitat for Humanity.

3
U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Housing

First-time homebuyers looking to purchase a home in eligible rural regions can benefit from no-down-payment loans provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Housing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Buying a Home in Kansas

It might be overwhelming to go through the process of becoming a homeowner in Kansas. MoneyGeek answered the following frequently asked questions to help you understand how it works.

What are the most important questions to ask when buying a house in Kansas?
Is buying a house in Kansas a good idea?
Is it wise to buy a house in Kansas in 2023?
How much income do I need to buy a house in Kansas?
How much is property tax in Kansas?
Which Kansas city is the cheapest to buy a home?
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