My Best Advice For First-Time Home Buyers

My Best Advice For First-Time Home Buyers

Joy. Joy is the first word I think of when I hear the term first-time home buyer. It’s what my wife and I felt moving into our first house. It’s what I always hope my clients feel at closing because buyer remorse has never been on anyone’s bucket list.

The process of buying a house has a lot of moving parts and involves many people. It can be stressful and intimidating even when it’s going well. When the pieces do not fall into place as you expect, it will be frustrating and even overwhelming on occasion.

Over the years, I have shared all those emotions with my clients on their journey to home-ownership. No two experiences are ever the same. However, it becomes glaringly evident that buyers who have the best outcomes are those that are most prepared. Knowledge is power. Here is some of my primo advice if you are buying your first home or even your last.

Make an Appointment with a Mortgage Broker

Before you get serious at looking for a home, you need to know if you qualify for a mortgage and how much the bank will lend you. You will also discuss what type of mortgage will best suit your financial circumstances and how you can receive the best interest rate. Shopping lenders is wise. Some offer better deals and options. A half-point or even a quarter-point less on your rate can generate significant savings over the life of your loan.

Decide How Much You Can Afford

The amount your mortgage lender is willing to finance may be more than you can comfortably afford. Make sure your mortgage payment and other monthly expenses associated with your home are within your financial comfort zone. If you are currently renting, it is common to have services like water, trash collection, and even some utilities included in the rent. As a homeowner, it’s all on you. Add the cost of utilities, water and sewer services, and trash collection to your loan payment (which will include taxes and insurance) to make sure you will have enough income left over each month to support your lifestyle comfortably.

Also, remember that when anything needs to be repaired or replaced, there is no landlord to come to the rescue. You may also face assessments from the municipality that will add to your taxes. It’s wise to have some savings left over to cover emergencies after you pay all the fees associated with buying your home.

Write a List of Needs and Wants 

A typical needs list generally includes things like the number of bedrooms, location, descent schools, desirable neighborhood, proximity to work or family. Wants can consist of almost anything. Features such as granite counters, stainless appliances, hardwood floors, updated kitchen or bath, deck, or patio are standard on many buyer wish lists.

Do not let a home that checks off many of your wants but doesn’t check off all the boxes on your must-have list turn your head. Remember, you can’t change the location of a home or the school system. If you know your future needs will demand four bedrooms don’t convince yourself you can make do with three. You can always update your home with all the extras as time and money allow.

Research the Home Buying Process

How fortunate are we to have information at our fingertips thanks to the internet. Read articles on all the phases of the home buying experience. The more you know about the process of buying a home, the more confident you’ll be, and the less stress you will feel.

Be Ready and Be Patient

It is an extremely competitive market for homes in the lower pricing tiers. The fact is that a shortage of homes still plagues most markets across the country. Desirable properties receive offers quickly and often multiple offers. Be ready to move on a property that you want but be patient because it might take a while. Prepare for the possibility that you might not have your offer accepted on the first, the fourth or even the fifth home you want to buy. Stiff competition for homes is one of the more frustrating aspects of today’s market for first-time buyers. 

Keep Your Emotions In Check

Don’t let your heart make all the decisions when you buy a home. When this happens, it often results in feelings of regret at some point down the road. For example, don’t be so invested in a particular home that you pay more than you know you can afford. Don’t buy a home that doesn’t suit your needs because you’re in love with the new kitchen and blinded by all the other ways the house may not be suitable. And please, before you decide to buy a fixer-upper be aware of the cost in time, money and stress involved in the process. 

Don’t Do This Alone

There is no reason a buyer should not have an experienced real estate professional as a companion on their home buying journey. The advice in this article is the tip of the iceberg. A Realtor has been down this path hundreds of times and knows how to avoid the bumps in the road and how to maneuver the detours. Find one you like and feel you can trust and avail yourself of their experience.

Good luck on your home buying journey. I wish you joy!

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