Buying a home is still considered a key aspect of the American dream, as a home is typically an appreciating asset that grows in value over time. Being a first-time buyer can open the door to tax breaks and federally-backed loans. Once you are ready financially here’s what to look for:
Location. Decide on this first to eliminate “buyer’s remorse” down the road. Do the homework and research neighborhoods. School districts, local safety, and crime statistics can affect a home’s value. Even if you have found your “dream home”, the neighborhood could be completely wrong. Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and night and watch the traffic, how are the streets and sidewalks? What are the neighbors like and how do they take care of their homes? Is the home close to places you might frequent (gym, grocery, schools)? Are there children playing safely outside?
Shop Online: Now that you know where you want to buy a home, there are plenty of online options to start the search. Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and any local real estate agency. Narrow down the Realtors that you want to connect with by reading their online reviews, looking at their websites, social media platforms and googling. The Realtor you choose will be the expert you will rely on most. Interview several before settling on one.
Be Frugal: Zero in on homes that are listed for less than the amount of money you have been approved for. Many first-time homebuyers don’t calculate the other monthly expenses or problems that go along with homeownership (broken appliances, etc). Furthermore, other than the down payment, there will be money needed at closing.
Negotiate: This is where having the best Realtor will come in beautifully. Once you make an offer, the seller might come back with a counteroffer and after discussing the pros and cons with your Realtor, you will know if you should offer more or walk away. Keep your emotions out of the entire process. Too many people pay too much for a home because they have “fallen in love” and this type of emotion can lead to very bad financial decisions.
Do an Exhaustive Inspection: Do the homework and find the very best Home Inspection Company with the top ratings. Be there with the inspector and learn about the home, ask questions – you need to know that the home you are purchasing is structurally sound. See the good and the bad – what repairs will be needed? Is the electric wiring adequate for today’s use? How are the water pipes, heating, and air conditioning systems? When the inspection is complete, get a verbal and written report. Bonus – the company will be available at a later date for more questions.
The Bottom Line: The above tips are just a few important ones to help navigate the process, save money and avoid common mistakes. Find a Realtor. While it’s easy to go through online homes and narrow down what you want, it’s not so easy to get from that point to the closing. There is the transfer of the deed, title search, negotiating, asking for “extras” that you might be entitled to, completing all paperwork and being the single point of contact with the seller.