Starting the Journey
Being a first-time homebuyer can make you lose your mind: So many choices! Never enough budget! So much paperwork!
But with the right approach, you can keep your hold on sanity throughout the difficult journey as a first-time homebuyer. Planning, homework and the professional guidance of a licensed REALTOR® are key. The tips below will help you stay focused on the main goal—getting into your dream home.
1. Get Mortgage Pre-Approval
Ease the mortgage process by getting your finances in order beforehand. This means you can jump on any offers you see, since you’ve got some paperwork already in-hand. It also will help negate any potential big surprises—you don’t want to find out you didn’t qualify for the loan you wanted while in the middle of the deal. Make sure to settle all outstanding debts and make any current credit card or loan payments on time. And don’t fret if the bank’s answer isn’t instantaneous—the process can take time.
2. Set Clear House-Hunting Goals
Before you start shopping around for your dream home, decide what’s important to you. How many bedrooms? Modern ranch or historic Victorian? What aspects of a neighborhood are important to you? How long is your commute? What are the property taxes? Which details are non-negotiable, and which can you drop? If you’re buying with someone else—a partner or spouse, for example—each of you should make a list and then compare notes so you can hammer out differences before they grow into stressful disagreements.
3. Budget, Budget, Budget
Once you’ve settled your budget, plan how to spend it. Does the house need repairs? What about real estate taxes? In order to devise an expense plan, avail yourself of all the resources that exist for first-time homeowners. REALTORS® who specialize in first-time homebuyers have great resources and suggestions. Many local agencies offer workshops, and websites (like realtor.com®) are teeming with useful information.
4. Use the Agent Advantage
Find a REALTOR® you like—and trust them. He or she can help match your must-haves with the market, while saving you precious time. Agents have access to homes not yet on the market, so you’ll be among the first to see the newest listings. An agent will also have a good idea of current price ranges and can protect you from falling into the trap of overpricing.
5. Delegate to Your REALTOR®
Your REALTOR® will hold your hand through the whole process—putting down a deposit and down payment, setting a closing date, figuring closing costs, and arranging inspections. Let them facilitate these steps and take a load off your shoulders. A good REALTOR® is honest, confident and accommodating—with your best interests in mind. Try to get a recommendation for a good agent from someone who had a positive experience buying their house.
If you do your homework, get focused and organized and find a great agent, then buying a home is a wonderful adventure. You’ll feel confident about becoming a homeowner, and you can find yourself purchasing the house you’ve always wanted.