Buying your first home is a big deal. There are many moving pieces and you want to be confident so that you are always using your better judgment. Here is a list of what first time home buyers need to know:
1. Assemble a team of quality professionals that you can trust.
You can choose who represents you in the following areas:
Real Estate Agent
Often the source of referrals for the other members of the team. (Make sure their recommendations are based on performance and value rather than as part of their broker’s pay-for-play referral network.)
Your agent will represent your best interest in the screening, evaluation, selection, and negotiation processes. It’s best to select an agent who focuses primarily on buyers so you’ll know they are concentrating their efforts for your success.
The advice and counsel you receive from an experienced loan officer will far exceed any savings you think you’re getting from shopping online for a lender. There’s no way to compare rates or closing costs until you’re actually under contract on a home, so find a loan officer that will help you every step of the way. Your long term success depends on the quality of information you get from your lender, and when it comes time to lock the rate, you can still work with whomever you choose.
Though not mandatory, it’s pretty important to check the integrity of the property you are going to buy. The real estate contract generally allows a few days for a potential buyer to obtain a full report from a licensed building inspector. Any deficiencies or issues can be negotiated during this “due-diligence period.”
The real estate agent normally assigns a closing attorney at the time the purchase and sale agreement is signed. Interestingly, the attorney represents the lender in the transaction (if you are using a mortgage to buy the home.) Any yet, you can choose the closing attorney if you wish.
The attorney performs a title search, provides title insurance to the lender and home buyer, sometimes performs a survey on the property, and helps you execute the documents on closing day.
2. Build a household budget
It is important to know how much you can consistently pay on a monthly basis. Consider any anticipated changes to income and that you will incur additional expenses in owning a home.
3. Establish a comfortable price range before looking at the first home
Having a range will give you some room to breathe when you’re out looking at properties. Start at the low end of your range rather than “dream home shopping” before you know what you can really afford. Even though every $10,000 in home price only equates to about $65/month (including taxes, insurance, and PMI), you’ll want to set a firm upper limit and avoid crossing that line unless your financial advisor give you the nod.
4. Keep your emotions in check
Many first time home buyers fall into the “dream home” trap. It starts with a tour of homes – often new home subdivisions that draw in the would be home owner with attractive model homes that contain the scenes (and scents) of a happy and successful home.
The truth is, you will create your home in whichever house you buy.
You’ll be happier in your new home if you don’t let your emotions carry you through the process into a home that is too large or expensive for you to manage without creating financial stress.
As a first time home buyer, it’s hard to imagine what your actual experience will be after you move in. Your ideas about the type of home, general area, yard, and other things will change as you grow into the space. You’ll adjust – but you will also want to make some changes, and probably buy new things to make the place more of what you have in mind.
Buying the right home will alleviate some of this post closing stress. Take your time – and surround yourself with people you can trust. Do your research, and don’t get carried away.