Buying your first home can be a nerve-wracking affair. This is compounded by the fact that many first-time homeowners are relatively young. Today, Americans are buying their first homes at the average age of 33. At this point, they are at the height of their careers and most have young families. They hardly have time on their hands to do all the due diligence required for this process. If you’re looking to buy your first home, here is a first-time home buyer guide to make the journey less stressful.
- Have a Budget in Mind and Stick to It
The first thing you should work out even before you start shopping for a house is the maximum amount of money you’re willing to spend on it. You will avoid wasting time viewing homes you won’t be able to afford anyway. Start off by using an online mortgage calculator to determine how much house you will be able to afford based on the monthly payments you’re able to make.
Consider the total costs of the mortgage as well as the maintenance costs of the property. If it’s not clear how much you should be working with, talk to your bank’s loan officer. They will help you arrive at a reasonable figure. If you’re on a tight budget but need a modern and classy home, you should consider checking out a few lofts.
- List Down Your Must-Haves
You probably have a list of features you’re not willing to negotiate on when buying a home. Establish what your values and lifestyle wouldn’t allow you to live without and write them down. This could include location, amenities, and size. This list will make it easier for your realtor to find homes that check all the right boxes. It will be hard to find everything you want in one home. Nonetheless, make a point of checking out homes below and above your budget in your desired location to get a clear picture of what is available. Re-evaluate the list you had made after establishing what’s available.
- Use a Pro Realtor
If you want to have a horrible experience the first time you buy a home, go with a bad realtor. It’s not hard finding a realtor who knows their stuff and has worked in the area you want to move into. The simplest way around this is to use referrals. If you have friends or family living in the area, they must know a few realtors you can contact immediately. You can also get ratings for local realtors on websites such as Zillow, Trulia, and StreetEasy. A good realtor will be a good listener and have a good knowledge of the area. They might also be able to provide you with contacts for real estate attorneys and loan officers in the area. They should be able to hold your hand through the whole process.
- Check Out Similar Homes
Before you put your John Hancock on the dotted line, make sure you’re getting value for your money by checking out similar listings in the area. They should fall within the same price range. You can use this information during negotiations with the seller.
- Find Out About Closing Costs
Your realtors should help you work out the expected closing costs on the home. They can vary widely depending on the property and location. They include the cost of an attorney and a home appraiser. Remembered that the realtor’s commission is paid by the seller and not you.