8 Home Buying Tips for First Time Buyers
Buying a home is a huge process and a substantial financial one. As a first time buyer there are some important things you should do in order to have a good experience and be successful in your quest to become a homeowner.
So, assuming you have made the decision to buy your first home, and are serious about it, let’s talk about what you need to do.
GET ALL YOUR PAPERWORK IN ORDER
You will be surprised at how much paperwork lenders require these days, so any upfront work you can do to get it all in one place, whether hard copies or online, will save you some time. At a minimum this includes all recent bank statements, recent paystubs, information about all loans, and 2 years of taxes for starters.
GET PRE-APPROVED WITH A GOOD LENDER
Most buyers need financing to purchase a house and you need to know right up front how much you can afford BEFORE you start the home search. And not just the loan itself but interest, taxes and other costs that are part of your monthly housing expense. Be sure to ask lots of questions and if the lender does not take time to educate you and answer all your questions consider moving on. You need someone by your side throughout the purchase process.
You should also know your personal budget. You may qualify to borrow more than you want to spend when you look at the monthly payment versus how you budget for other things. Maxing out your house budget will make you miserable and is certainly not a prudent thing to do.
WORK WITH A QUALIFIED REALTOR®
You no doubt have found a wealth of information on the Internet about real estate, but it is NOT the be-all-end-all of information. Indeed, there are plenty of gaps, discrepancies, and contradictions, and understanding what it all means for you and your purchase is a major challenge.
Since you have never bought a home before you need a trusted, knowledgeable REALTOR® to answer all your questions, educate you, guide you through the process, and help find solutions to problems that might arise. This person can do a far better job of protecting your interests, negotiating on your behalf, and helping you make the best decision than your friend, neighbor, or the listing agent.
ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s a lot you don’t know, and there may be things that are confusing, terminology you don’t understand, and more. While a good REALTOR® will take the time to explain things, don’t be shy about your questions, even if you think they’re silly or you feel stupid. The more you know, the better!
DECIDE WHAT YOU NEED IN YOUR FIRST HOME
You probably have some ideas about what you need in your first home. This is critical so you can search for homes that meet your needs effectively.
Did you notice I said “what you need.” Too many buyers have a long wish list of things they want, but don’t necessarily think enough about the things that are really important to them. That’s not to say you shouldn’t dream a little, but know that you will have to make trade-offs. And if there is too much on the list you will surely become frustrated in your search.
As part of this list you should consider the community and local neighborhood, too. It’s not just about the house itself but the lifestyle. And think about those deal killers…the things that would make you walk away.
UNDERSTAND LOCAL MARKET CONDITIONS
“Real estate is local” is one of the better known truths about housing. Local market conditions affect you as a buyer in significant ways – the amount of inventory available to you that fits your budget, competition from other buyers who want the same thing you do, prices, the strategy to use when making an offer, and how your agent will negotiate your offer.
You need to do plenty of research – indeed finding a home is like a full-time job - and looking at homes will help you better understand the market, value, and your needs. But the most reliable source of information about the local market and HOW this affects you is your REALTOR®. Not the media, your best friend, your family or your neighbors. Ask lots of questions so you understand.
BE AWARE OF THE COSTS OF BUYING A HOME
There are plenty of costs associated with buying a home. The major cost, of course, is the price of the house…and your mortgage. But there are costs during the due diligence phase after you have a contract, the down-payment, and closing costs required by the lender and escrow.
Here are the buyer’s expected costs in a real estate transaction.
HAVE THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
If you are going to buy a home you need to take it very seriously, and have an attitude of commitment to: research; asking questions; getting financially prepared; spending the necessary time to look at homes and neighborhoods; and to the process itself and working with your REALTOR®.
This may not be your dream home so be realistic. You won’t be living in your first house forever. You should plan on there being some trade-offs, and things about the house you are not in love with. But keep focused on your long-term goal – buying your first home!
You should be excited! This will be fun, although you’ll also experience some anxiety and nerves.
Remain positive. In our competitive market with limited inventory and competition it may take you a while to find the right home. And some buyers have to make more than one offer before they are successful. DON’T GIVE UP! Your REALTOR® will be able to help with this.
Are you ready to start YOUR search for a new home in Carlsbad or elsewhere in North San Diego County? Please give me a call at (760) 840-1360 so we can set a time to sit down and discuss your needs, answer your questions, and craft a plan that will get you into your first home this year.
You can start your search in Carlsbad or nearby using the link to the right with listings updated 24/7. Just CLICK on the photo and you are on your way.
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