Home Buying 101

Laurie WallBuying and Selling

Buying your first home is exciting, but it can also be daunting. There are a lot of factors to consider when looking for the right place. Costs can add up quickly as you put together your wish list, including hidden costs. It’s also easy to be swayed by others’ opinions and by your own emotions. Before you embark on this journey, here are some tips to get first-time homebuyers started on the right foot.

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Location, Location, Location

The first thing to consider is where you want to live. You might want to live near family or close to your work or maybe you have a specific neighborhood or area in mind. Where you live will affect the price. A place in the city is likely to cost more than a home in the suburbs and much more than a house in a rural location. You also have to factor in transportation costs and homeowners’ association fees.

What Sort of House Do You Want?

Each housing option has pros and cons. And with each, you have to pay for maintenance and upkeep. You have to decide which cons you’re willing to accept in exchange for the benefits the home has to offer.

  • You might want to live in a single-family home where you can have a yard and not share any walls with your neighbors. You’re likely to get the best return on your investment if you choose a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Just remember that a single-family home involves maintenance and upkeep as well as taking care of a yard. In an up-and-coming neighborhood, you may have to join a homeowners’ association and pay its regular fees.
  • You could live in a townhouse where you share walls with your neighbors but enjoy the convenience and energy of the city. Some townhouses even have a yard or a patio area, which is nice for relaxing and entertaining.
  • In a condo, you can enjoy the convenience of the city and not have to worry about maintaining a yard. You may have to share walls with neighbors and you’ll probably have to pay regular maintenance fees.

Settle Your Financing First

One of the most important tips for first-time homebuyers is to secure financing before you start serious house hunting. Once you know how much the bank is willing to lend you, then you can adjust your hunt accordingly. Also, real estate can sell overnight. If you’ve settled your finances first, you don’t have to worry about your dream house being sold out from under you while you’re waiting for your financing to come through. It’s also wise to consider how much you’re willing to pay for your monthly mortgage before you even approach the bank and what your financial goals are. It can be tempting to take as much as the bank is willing to lend you, but you’ll regret it later if you’re struggling to make your mortgage payment every month.

Look It Over Carefully

Another one of the most important tips for first-time homebuyers is to remember that buying a home can be a very emotional process. Emotions may sway you, especially the first time you see a house. Once you’ve found a home that you like, go see it a second time so that your head has a chance to catch up with your emotions and be involved in the decision-making process. You’re likely to see things more clearly the second time around that you may have missed in the heady rush of the first visit.

Once you’ve found “the one,” get it inspected. An inspection is a must-have, especially for an older house. It’s a relatively small investment to make toward what is likely going to be the biggest investment of your life.

Bid Like a Pro

One of the smartest tips for first-time homebuyers is to find out what similar homes are selling for. If your seller is overpriced, you may be able to make a lower offer.

Buying your first home does not have to be an overwhelming process. With these tips for first-time homebuyers, you can go ahead with confidence because you know you’re prepared to make a sound financial decision.  

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