Buying your first house is an exciting experience! Making sure that it remains positive and is a great investment for your future can be easy by following a few a simple pointers:
- Get Your Own Agent – Once you’re serious about shopping for a home, secure an agent to protect YOUR interests. It’s important to understand that almost all of the costs associated with buying a house are paid for by the seller. Therefore, you, as a buyer, incur almost no additional costs by having someone represent you. Furthermore, having a real estate agent you trust will help you with #2-#10 on this list!
- Know What You Can Afford – What the bank says you can afford and what you are comfortable with paying are not necessarily the same. If you don’t already have a budget, make a list of all your monthly expenses (excluding rent), including vehicle costs, student loan payments, credit card payments, groceries, health insurance, etc.. Subtract this total from your take-home pay and you’ll know how much you can spend on your new home each month.
- Get Mortgage Pre-Qualification – Make sure to get pre-approved for a loan first so you can be looking at houses in your price range and are in a position to place an offer on a home when you find it. Be aware that even if you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, your loan can fall through at the last minute if you do something to alter your credit score, like finance a car purchase. Get Pre-Qualified!
- Consider Additional Expenses – Once you’re a homeowner, you’ll have additional expenses on top of your monthly payment. Unlike renting, homeowners are responsible for paying property taxes, insuring your home against disasters and making any repairs the house needs.
- Be Picky But Not Too Picky – Go ahead and put everything you can think of on your new home wish list, but don’t be so inflexible that you end up continuing to rent for significantly longer than you really want to. First-time homebuyers often have to compromise on something because their funds are limited. You may have to live on a busy street, accept outdated decor, make some repairs to the home, or forgo that extra bedroom.
- See Potential -Even if you can’t afford to replace the hideous wallpaper in the bathroom now, it might be worth it to live with the ugliness for a while in exchange for getting into a house you can afford. If the home otherwise meets your needs in terms of the big things that are difficult to change, such as location and size, don’t let physical imperfections turn you away.
- Have a Buyer’s Eye – Minor upgrades and cosmetic fixes are inexpensive tricks that sellers use to play on your emotions and elicit a much higher price tag. Look for homes whose full potential has yet to be realized.
- Don’t Compromise on the Important Things – Don’t get a two-bedroom home if you know you’re planning to have kids and want three bedrooms. While you’ll probably have to make some compromises to be able to afford your first home, don’t make compromises that will be a major strain.
- Make Sure You Inspect -It’s tempting to think that you’re a homeowner the moment you sign a purchase agreement, but before you close on the sale, you need to know what kind of shape the house is in. Keeping your feelings in check until you have a full picture of the house’s physical condition and the soundness of your potential investment will help you avoid making a serious financial mistake.
- Consider the Future – It’s impossible to perfectly predict the future of your chosen neighborhood, but paying attention to the information that is available to you now can help you avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.
Buying a first home can seem stressful and overwhelming. However, if you’re aware of these ten points ahead of time, you can protect yourself from costly mistakes and shop with confidence. For many people, a home is the largest purchase they will ever make.
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