First Time Home Buyer Advice 

If you have never purchased a home before then the chances are good that you will go online and search for homes, search for realtors, search for tips, tricks, hacks and all around good real estate advice.  I have found that there is a lot of great information out there, but a lot of marketing junk and misleading information.  I will cut through the crap and tell you the most important pieces of the puzzle.  When you first start searching for your home, the sky is usually the limit. You want walk-in closets, a screened porch, a fireplace, a fenced in backyard, and a Jacuzzi in the master bath. Unless you balance those wants with your absolute needs, you may be disappointed, even discouraged, after a few weeks of searching. You may find that the cute, two-story on the corner has a screened porch but no Jacuzzi and a tiny backyard. Or that the great rambler has a huge backyard but no fireplace. Before you start looking, determine exactly which features you can’t live without. I also make a list of your “wants” in the order of importance. These parameters help narrow the search so you don’t waste time touring homes without the amenities that truly meet your needs.

Real Estate Agent Types to Avoid

Steer clear of Realtors that push you into, or require you to sign an exclusive right to represent agreement or try to "sell you a home." Make sure they are transparent about their commission and how they get paid.  If you do agree to sign a buyers representation agreement be sure to get a copy of it.  If you can it would be wise to have the agent add verbiage into the contract that you may cancel the agreement at anytime and for any reason.  Do a Google or Bing search for the agents that you are considering working with, be cautious of working with a family member, a friend or a friend of a friend.  DUE YOUR DILIGENCE!

Find a good local mortgage broker that you can trust

A great mortgage professional will always look out for your best interests and won't treat you like a number.  One of the most frustrating situations you may face while house hunting is finding your “dream home,” negotiating an offer everyone is happy with…and then failing to qualify for the needed financing. The best way to avoid this disappointment is to pre-qualify for a mortgage through a lender. Then you’ll know exactly what you can afford, and you can limit your search to that particular price range. Prequalification doesn’t mean you are obligated to finance your home through a specific lender. You can still shop for the mortgage deal while you continue house hunting. But it makes sense to start the loan application process as early in your search as possible. The process can be lengthy, with lenders requesting detailed information about your debts, assets and credit history. By starting early, everything will be in place when you find the right home. When it’s a seller’s market with multiple offers and quick sales, prequalification through a lender is vital. It guarantees the seller that you can afford your offer. Prequalification always increases a buyer’s standing because the seller has security that the deal will not disintegrate at the last minute because your financing falls through.

Educate yourself thoroughly about the first time homebuyer process

By doing this you will learn how to protect yourself from all of the real estate predators and rookie agents that disguise themselves as "first time home buyer specialists." Find a top local Realtor that will represent you, the buyer, and only you.  The best first-time homebuyer agent should be committed to serving your best interests throughout the purchase process. This responsibility includes providing you with any information, whether positive or negative, about properties you are investigating for purchase. 

Keep your home buying emotions in check 

This takes practice and comes with time.  Do not rush the home buying process.  Do not let anyone try to convince you that you "must act quickly."  You can alter the course of your life with one good real estate purchase and can ruin your financial situation with a bad one.  Most real estate companies train their agents on how to sell as many homes as possible with the least amount of work and in the shortest amount of time.

What not to do when buying your first home

You should not have to talk yourself into a home.  It is not a good sign if you find yourself trying to talk yourself into liking a home, condominium, townhome or multi-family property.Do not buy a home because you are sick of "throwing your money away" or "paying off someone elses mortage."  I cannot tell you how often I hear buyers say that the reason they want to buy a home is to stop wasting there money.  The biggest waste of money is if you buy the wrong home at the wrong time.  Remember that there are fees going in and fees going out.  Home ownership can be expensive to get into, costly to maintain, and even more expensive to get out of. I see homebuyers everyday thinking that they are going to buy low, pay down their mortgage, sell high, and walk away with a bunch of money for their next house.  While this is possible there are several things that need to fall into place in order to turn this concept into a reality.  Do not trust the advice you get from people that are not experienced experts with honest, ethical and documented reputations.  It has been said that 92% of all real estate licensees that get into the business are no longer in the business after 2 years.  Remember that the average agent in Minnesota sells 4-5 homes a year and while it may seem like they are experienced and great realtors the chances are good that they are barely getting by. Remember that perception is not always reality.