If you're an apartment renter ready to take the plunge into home ownership, there are a lot of reasons to be excited! Owning your own home does bring with it additional work and responsibilities, but the feeling of pride that accompanies it makes it all worthwhile!
Once you get used to the idea that "the buck stops here" and that there's no landlord to handle repairs and maintenance any more, it won't take long to get into the rhythm of being an established property owner. Here are a few tips to help ensure that your first experience with home ownership is a satisfying one.
- Get a good real estate agent. A real estate professional can provide you with valuable guidance, advice, and information about houses you're considering in your desired neighborhoods and price ranges. A buyers' agent can help you avoid many of the potential pitfalls of buying your first home and help you stay within budget. They'll assist you in clarifying your priorities and work on your behalf to find homes that meet your requirements. A service-oriented agent will not only point out the positive aspects of houses you're considering, but they'll also discuss ideas for adapting the home to your specific needs and lifestyle.
- Hire an experienced property inspector. A seasoned home inspector can take a close look at the condition of the house and property you're considering and help make sure there are no major structural defects, safety issues, or operational problems with the home's systems and components. Although every property inspector approaches their job a little differently, their inspection service should include everything from the roof and foundation to the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. They may also report to you on the condition of the home's insulation, its exterior, and any existing or potential drainage problems on the property. Certain aspects of the house may be excluded from the inspection if it's difficult or unsafe to gain access to them. A top-notch home inspector can also provide useful insights into repairs that need to be made on the house. As a side note, professional property inspectors are often members of The American Society of Home Inspectors and follow the organization's Standards of Practice.
- Visit a lot of different houses for sale before making a final decision. It also pays to have a checklist with you to keep track of how each house stacks up to your requirements and expectations.
If you've set a goal of buying your first home within the next year, there are several things you can begin doing now to set the stage for a positive experience.
While it pays to familiarize yourself with everything from your credit score to mortgage options, choosing a good real estate agent will prove to be an invaluable advantage when navigating through the process of buying a home. An experienced, knowledgeable agent will help keep you on track, prepare necessary documents for you, and answer the myriad of questions that will occur to you.
Should you choose the first real estate agent you talk to? People occasionally find a perfect fit right off the bat, but it's often a good idea to interview a couple agents before you make your final decision. Having one or two points of comparison can provide you with a wider perspective of available choices.
Not only would you want to work with a professional who has a successful track record in helping first-time home buyers, but you also want to make sure your personality is compatible with your agent's communication style and energy level. Unless you stumble on the home of your dreams on the first day, you're probably going to be spending a lot of time with them. Most real estate agents do tend to be knowledgeable, resourceful, and service oriented, but your journey will be a lot smoother and more satisfying if you sign on with an agent who's a good match for your individual needs and personality.
One of the most effective ways to prepare yourself for a real estate search is to create lists of things you need to do, have, and schedule. It's also helpful to prioritize what you want in your ideal house. By identifying and reminding yourself of the features that are most important to you, you'll have a greater tendency to recognize what you want when you see it. You'll also find yourself communicating your needs and wants more clearly to your real estate agent. As is the case with any professional or personal relationship, good quality communication usually yields the best possible results.
As a home buyer, there are many property features and priorities you'll want to ponder and discuss with your significant other. In addition to your future home's square footage, bedroom space, and number of bathrooms, you may also be interested in the reputation of school districts, the character of neighborhoods you're considering, and the amount of privacy each property affords.
Another list worth compiling before you get too far into the house hunting process is a personal budget. By seeing how your income stacks up against your monthly expenses, you'll be in a stronger position to determine a realistic price range for your next home.
Are you thinking about buying your first home but completely overwhelmed with where to even begin?
Buying your first home is a big, and exciting, decision. It’s also one that comes with a big learning curve you need to get down quickly.
There are many steps to the process and even though your agent is always here to help you and give advice it’s critical you do your own research. You want to be able to take action quickly when you find your dream home. To do this you will need to be able to keep up with the process by having everything done neatly, orderly and on time.
So where to start?
Start by sitting down with your budget. What do your current finances look like? What sort of wiggle room for spending do you have? What can you afford for a monthly mortgage payment?
And perhaps more importantly, do you have enough saved to cover a down payment and closing costs? Depending on which programs you qualify for you don’t necessarily have to put the traditional 20% down. With that said, you should know how much you would need to put down and if you have money in the bank to cover those costs.
Smooth out any credit snags. Your credit score doesn’t need to be out of this world, but it should reflect that you are actively improving and financially responsible.
Find a mortgage professional you trust to help you make the right moves throughout the process. Again, you want to be able to take action quickly once you find a home you love. And you don’t want to miss out because your mortgage professional hasn’t prioritized you.
You will also want to have a preapproval prepared, with the help of your mortgage professional, when you are ready to start looking at houses. Having a pre-approval in hand shows your agent that you are serious about this process.
Calculate the costs. Yes, more math! You will want to take into consideration real estate taxes, HOA fees, home repairs and maintenance as you refine your budget to see which homes make the most sense for your lifestyle.
When looking at homes focus on the “bones” of the house. Look past paint, hideous wallpaper and yes even the granite countertops. Are there enough bedrooms? Bathrooms? A laundry room? Is there enough garage space and driveway? Do you like the floor plan? The neighborhood?
Know what’s important to you. In an ideal world, you will find a home that ticks off every item on your wishlist. And not to say that it’s entirely impossible, but know which items on your list are negotiable. Which are you willing to budge on and which are make or break?
The prospect of buying your first home is both exciting and nerve-wracking. On one hand, owning your own house is the final step of financial independence. You’re no longer accountable to a landlord and their rental agreement. On the other hand, buying a home is a huge financial decision that will determine where you live for the next several years.
As a first-time buyer, there’s a lot to learn about buying a house. You’ll often hear homeowners say, “I wish I knew that before buying this house.” So, in this article, we’re going to give you some common mistakes that first-time buyers make so you can have the best possible experience in the home buying process.
1. Underestimating the costs
When first-time buyers get preapproved for a mortgage, they sometimes see this as permission to spend whatever amount they’re approved for. However, even after closing costs, there are a number of other expenses you’ll need to account for in your budget.
You’ll be responsible for maintenance, utilities, taxes, and repairing things when they get old. If all of your money is tied up just paying your mortgage and other bills, you won’t have anything left over to maintain your house.
Furthermore, living your life just to make your mortgage payments is draining. Instead, buy a house that gives you enough room to save for retirement, vacations, a family, or whatever else you see in your future.
2. Prequalify first
Before you start shopping for homes, make sure you meet some basic prerequisites. You’ll need a solid credit score, steady income history, and money saved for a down payment. You might set yourself up for disappointment looking at homes that are outside of your spending limit if you don’t get prequalified first.
3. This probably isn’t your last home
While it’s okay to dream about the future, don’t set unrealistic expectations for your first home. You can always upgrade later on, and building equity in your first home is a good way to help you do that.
4. Don’t get too attached to your “dream home”
So, you’ve been shopping around for a few weeks and finally found the perfect house. If everything goes well your offer could get accepted. But if it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. There are constantly new houses appearing on the market, and there’s a good chance you’ll like one even more than this one.
5. Don’t waive contingencies without good reason
Contingencies are there to protect you. They might seem like a way to needlessly complicate a contract. Or, you might think that waiving them makes you look better in the eyes of the seller. However, both sellers and their agents know that contingencies serve an important purpose.
The three main contingencies you’ll want when buying a home are an appraisal contingency, financing contingency, and an inspection contingency. Unless you’re buying under special circumstances, you’ll want to keep all three in your contract.