What to consider when starting your home buying journey
You sit down at your computer (or whip out your smartphone), open your search engine of choice, type in “tips for first-time home buyers,” and in about 1.5 seconds you’re delivered more search results than the amount of pine needles you’re still sweeping up from the holidays. Three years ago.
When you’re just embarking on the home buying journey, it’s easy to get overwhelmed from the flood of information that turns up in your Google search, so we’re going to give you our top 5 first-time home buyer tips to cut through the noise and get you on your way to finding your dream home.
1. Find a Reputable Real Estate Agent
One of the most important things you can do as a first-time home buyer (and this applies even if you're not a first-time home buyer) is to work with an experienced, reputable agent. A real estate agent will help you set clear expectations and goals and be able to guide you through the entire process—from finding great neighborhoods to negotiating the best deal on your dream home. There's only so much internet research you can do and when you're looking at making a huge purchase like a home, you need expert guidance. A great agent will also help you avoid common home buying mistakes and make the whole process as smooth as possible.
2. Determine if You’re Ready to a Buy Home
Buying a home is an exciting yet big decision. You’ll want to take a look at your financial situation and life stage to determine whether or not now is the best time to buy a house. This is not something you want to rush into because when you’re in a hurry—especially when homes are selling fast—mistakes are made and you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. The process of buying and selling a home can get expensive so it’s important that you’re in a good place financially to take on the responsibility of owning a home.
3. How Much House Can You Afford?
This may seem obvious, but you’ll want to figure out how much house you can afford, save for a down payment (typically 20%), and ensure you’re financially ready for the adventure of home ownership. You’ll also want to take into consideration other home expenses in addition to your mortgage payment, like home insurance and private mortgage insurance (PMI), principal, interest, and property taxes.
4. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will give you an idea of how much you can actually afford to spend on a home. It does take a little more work to get pre-approved at the front end, but it makes the shopping experience so much easier. This is because pre-approval shows you’re a serious home buyer, giving you a competitive advantage over other shoppers who are not pre-approved.
5. Don’t Get Emotional
We get it. Buying your first home can come with a roller coaster of emotions—sometimes it feels as pleasant and happy as the It’s a Small World ride at Disney World and other times it’s more like the Tower of Terror. Which is why it’s important to keep your emotions in check and not let them take over your home buying decision. It’s easy to fall in love with the first property you see, but that doesn’t mean it will be right for your needs or budget range. This is another reason why working with a great real estate agent can help you stay on track to stay within your budget and to reach your goals.