Buying a home for the first time is a big adventure. It’s exciting and fun, but it’s also complex. You’ve never done this before, so you don’t know all the tricks and tips that help the process go a bit smoother. Hopefully, we can help you out a little by giving you some great first-time homebuyers advice.
They say home is where the heart is, and that’s true. Your new home is the place you’ll come home to after a long day of work, the place you’ll create lasting memories, and live your life. It’s your haven. When shopping for a new home and dreaming about starting this new phase of your life, it’s easy to get swept up and make a few mistakes.
Below you’ll find 8 tips and a bonus shortcut that help you learn what to do, and not do so you can avoid those common mistakes.
Make a List
It’s easier for a Realtor to help you find the perfect house if they know what you want. So, take a day or two and really envision what you’re looking for in a home. Be practical. You don’t want to make an outrageous list that no home could possibly live up to, but you do want to figure out those essential details that really matter to you. Do you want a really big laundry room? Or is a big backyard something you can’t live without? Think about these things, and then give that list to your Realtor. It’ll help both of you find a home that delivers most or all of the desires on your list.
When you decide you’re serious about looking for a home, contact a lender. (And lucky for you, I know some really good ones, just ask for an introduction.) A lot of first-time home buyers put off talking to a lender until they’re deep into the house hunting process or until they find the home they want. That’s a mistake. You want to get pre-qualified early so you know exactly where you stand financially, and you have time to correct any mistakes that might have been made with your credit score or application. It’s smart to get all your ducks in a row before you find that perfect house, including pre-approval, otherwise, you might find yourself scrambling to acquire it and that’s a headache you really want to avoid.
Know Your Budget
You need to know exactly what you can spend on a mortgage. Hopefully, you won’t have to settle for a mortgage payment that’s right at your maximum, but you should know what that is so that you don’t exceed it. A lot of people forget to factor in certain costs when they calculate their budget. They look at what they’re paying for rent now and think that that’s enough. It’s not. You have to factor in everything, including added gas in case the home is further away from work, etc. Factor in a higher utility bill if you’re hoping to upgrade to a bigger place. Allow for HOA fees if you’re planning on looking at homes that have Home Owner Associations. Little extras can add up quick, so you don’t want to overestimate your budget. Also allow for emergencies such as car trouble or home repairs. Don’t get blindsided, figure it all out now, or at least as best as you can so you have a plan.
Ask a lot of Questions
Your Realtor has done this before. It’s their job to know the ins and outs of the buying process. Use their knowledge to your advantage. If you’re confused about something, just ask. They’ll probably know the answer, and if they don’t it’s likely that they can figure it out for you. Home buying is a lengthy and complex process, but knowledge and helpful advice can make it go a lot smoother.
Don’t Let Emotions Rule Your Decisions
It’s been done time and time again. You look at a house that’s a little more than what you’d like to pay, and you fall in love with it. That’s fine if you can get the price down. But if you can’t, you need to move on. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Don’t try to talk yourself into something you know you can’t afford. If you follow this list, you’ll know your budget. You’ll know exactly what you can and can’t afford. You’ll sit down at the computer, look at all your bills, and factor in the variables. You’ll do this with a clear head and provide yourself with a number. Stick to that number. No matter how much you love a house, it’s just not worth it to put yourself in a financial situation that’s going to cause you a lot of problems down the road.
Get the House Inspected Before You Commit to Buy
You’ve heard the phrase don’t judge a book by its cover, and that’s equally true for houses too. Just because you don’t see any problems, doesn’t mean they’re not there. The majority of home issues happen in places you can’t see in a simple walk-thru. Within the walls, in the ceiling, under the floors, and in the ground, these are the places that costly issues begin and grow. If you buy a house before looking deeper than the ‘cover,’ you could end up with a very expensive mess on your hands. If the inspection uncovers costly problems, you’ll be glad that you took the time and spent the money to get the house inspected. And, if it doesn’t, you can rest assured that you’ve made a good choice and that your home is safe. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. So, don’t assume everything is fine. Get an inspection, and know for sure.
Know Your Credit Score
You can’t get a loan without first knowing your mortgage credit score, which a great lender can get for you. If your score is lower than ideal, there are steps you can take to raise it up. It can be worth spending the effort to improve your score. The alternative is not qualifying for a loan at all or qualifying for a loan that’s going to cost you a lot more long term. Don’t get stuck with a crappy deal because you got impatient. Do the responsible things and get your affairs in order before you make such a big step and huge commitment. And a good lender can guide you to the fast track on making any necessary loan qualification improvements.
Pay Attention to the Neighborhood
It doesn’t matter how beautiful a home is if you don’t feel at home in the neighborhood. Do you feel safe, welcome, and comfortable? You should make a list that applies to your ideal neighborhood to accompany the list of things you want in a home. It’s just as important. Your dream home won’t be nearly as enjoyable if you’re stuck in an environment that you’re not comfortable in. Factor in the area when you make your decision. You’ll be a lot happier because of it.
Buying a home isn’t something you should walk into without preparation. Take some time to go over this list, and do your part to ensure that buying a house doesn’t become a complete nightmare. Then you can get excited and hopeful about finding a house you can call your own.
TAKE THE SHORT CUT: Talk to a Great Realtor…
If this list feels like a burden, don’t fret. Your first step is to simply find a really good Realtor that will point you in the right direction, explain the process, answer your questions, and advocate for you throughout the process. For help making that dream a reality, please contact me. We look forward to making this process enjoyable and helping you find the home of your dreams.