People buy homes for many different reasons. Most buy for the sole purpose of living the American dream! I understand that the process of buying your first home can be stressful, frustrating and very emotional! You’re making the biggest purchase of you life, to date, and you’ll probably look at a lot of houses before you find the perfect one for you!
After helping a lot of first time home buyers, a few tips stick out to me as the best ways of improving your chances of having a good experience. Here are my top 10.
- The loan comes first. Unless you’re paying cash, you’re going to need to go through the mortgage process. Get a recommendation for a good mortgage lender before you start looking at homes. This puts you in a much better negotiating process, relieves your stress because you know when you find the perfect home, you can afford it, and also allows you time to correct any potential problems on your credit report. Most lenders do not charge anything for loan pre-approval, and you can still shop around with other lenders should you choose to.
- Take a look at your budget and be realistic. Can you afford a house payment and all the expenses that go with owning a home? If you’re comfortable and qualified to buy in the $200,000 range, the best way to become unsatisfied is to go out looking at $300,000 homes. Don’t do this to yourself!
- Location, Location, Location. It’s the most important thing! Unless you plan to live in the house forever, eventually, you or your estate will want to sell it. You want the home to appreciate in value. You also want to be able to sell quickly. What you don’t want is a house for sale sign sitting in your front yard for years. It doesn’t matter how wonderful your property is, you’ll have a very difficult time trying to sell your home for top dollar in a bad neighborhood in a reasonable amount of time. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad home. It simply means that there will be less demand. That’s not what you want when you decide or have to sell your house. One needs to apply a neighborhood litmus test when buying a home. Things to consider include schools, nearby growth and development, and convenience. Local governmental agencies often list a school district’s rankings. This information can also be found on the Internet. If all else fails, real estate agents have access to this information and can be very helpful. The value of your home will appreciate much more if it is located in a neighborhood with good schools.
- Think resale. People usually don’t make money when they sell real estate; they make money when they buy it. So, when you look at homes, look at them with an eye for what you like, but also keep in mind that you will need to sell it down the road.
- Be honest with yourself. If you don’t have a knack for home improvement projects, you might not want to buy a “fixer upper”. If you do like home improvement projects, you might want to talk to your mortgage lender about a 203(k) mortgage, which combines a traditional mortgage with a home repair loan into one allowing you to buy that “fixer upper” home and make it into your “dream home”.
- A New Build or New Construction. If a “fixer upper” is not right for you, maybe new construction or a new build is the route for you. New housing is available in all price ranges.
- Yard Work Not Your Thing? Consider a Condo or Townhome. If yard work isn’t your thing, maybe you want to consider a condo or a townhome. There are many options out there that might be right for you.
- Limit the Opinions. When you begin your home search, you will no doubt receive an abundance of opinions from people on where you should live, why type of property you should live in, etc. Just thank them for their input and make your own decision. While everyone means well, they will not be the ones paying the mortgage and only you can pick the perfect home for you!
- Choose your own real estate agent. When purchasing a new home, you spend a great deal of time with your Realtor. Therefore, it’s important that you like the Realtor that you’re working with; don’t let someone else pick your Realtor! Will you allow this person to be chosen by chance, by you, or by the seller of the home you’re buying? Do yourself a favor and do some research, ask for recommendations, talk to agents about their experience level and what their beliefs are about service, and pick one that you feel comfortable with. The right agent can make all the difference in your home purchase experience and overall satisfaction; it’s definitely worth the effort.
- Hire a home inspector. They are another key player in the process and are there to help protect you from buying a home with significant problems. Look for someone that has several years of experience and a background in the trades such as a general contractor. They will investigate the overall structure, check the roof and heating/cooling system and provide a detailed report on the condition of the home. You may also wish to inspect the home for termites, radon gas, mold or other contaminants that would affect not only your health but the resale value of the home.
As I mentioned above, purchasing a home can be somewhat stressful, especially for first time home buyers, but with the help of these tips and with the right Realtor by your side, I believe that the process can move along much smoother. Remember, it’s never too late to turn back should you feel that the time is just not right, but again, those are concerns that you should be able to address with your Realtor.
Good luck, and happy home buying!