Buying your first home can be stressful, exciting, and confusing all at the same time. And unless you know what to expect it can be incredibly overwhelming and scary. As a first time homebuyer, don’t underestimate the importance of doing your due diligence, talking with knowledgeable sources, and learning everything you can about the process.
Prior to House Hunting
Before really starting the process, it’s critical that you prepare yourself financially and mentally. Can you get approved for a loan? How much liquid cash do you have for a down payment? Do you understand everything that the conveyancing process involves? These are all important questions to consider and can reveal a lot about where you are. After examining certain financial aspects, many people will find they aren’t quite ready – and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you find that you’re ready to buy, it’s time to start the house hunting!
Tips for House Hunting
Here are some helpful tips to guide you through the house hunting phase:
· Find an agent. Partnering up with a knowledgeable local real estate agent is one of the smartest things you can do. They can help you avoid mistakes like paying too much, purchasing in the wrong neighborhood, or forgetting about additional expenses.
· See multiple homes. Can the first house you see be ‘the one?’ Yes, but it’s important to see a handful of listings before making a decision. Patience is key and you have to remember that it takes time to find the right home.
· Keep the future in mind. While you can’t plan for everything, you should at least keep the next 5-10 years in mind when you purchase a home. This means accounting for things like children, work, and school zones.
· Minor vs. major issues. A real estate agent can help you determine the difference between minor and major issues, but use your common sense. Never touch a house with structural damage, major plumbing issues, or other serious risks. However, buying a home with cosmetic damage is fine. In fact, as long as you’re willing to put in a little work, it may allow you to save some money on the purchase price.
Before Heading to the Closing Table
After finding a home that you like, there are still plenty of considerations to keep in mind before placing an offer and heading to the closing table. Chief among them is understanding how much home you can realistically afford.
While you may qualify for a $300,000 loan, does it make financial sense? Think about your future living expenses and how the projected mortgage payment will fit into your lifestyle. Will it keep you from enjoying other necessities, or is it worth it? Just because you have the money, doesn’t mean you should spend it.
Furthermore, you should work with your agent to negotiate a favorable deal. Never offer exactly what the seller is asking. There is almost always some wiggle room and you should attempt to identify the seller’s weaknesses and stand strong in your offer.
While buying your first home can be stressful, it’s equally rewarding when handled in a diligent, patient, and responsible manner.