There’s a first time for everything, and “firsts” tend to be memories that last forever. Your first kiss, your first car, your first day of school, the first dance at your wedding*, or the first time you saw your child. While these memories have the potential to be wonderful, firsts are also unknown, intimidating and come served with a potential for disaster. Planning ahead can pave the path for fabulous firsts.
*Take it from me – if you haven’t had your first dance yet, invest in a few dance lessons and save yourself three minutes of awkwardness.
Buying your first home is no different, and we, like your dance teacher, are here to help guide you through the steps you need to take in order to cha-cha through the process. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Make Sure Buying is for You
Buying your first home can be tempting, but be honest with yourself when reviewing your situation. If you are planning to move in the next year, or are unsure of your job situation, you may be better off waiting to buy. In the meantime, focus on saving for a down payment and touring a variety of homes so you’ll know what you’re looking for when your time comes.
Check Your Budget
If you are looking for a great deal on a first home, make sure that you have the cash in hand for a down payment and a lender who is willing to provide an affordable loan. Sit down and take a serious look at your budget and how you are spending your money. Go ahead and take the next step by being pre-approved by a lender to expedite the closing of your purchase. Pre-approval will help you to understand how much you can expect to borrow and give you a better idea of your price range when shopping for your first home.
Find Your Style
Whether for fancy new shoes, a shiny new car or a date to your best friend’s wedding, we all love to shop, and looking for your first home can be a lot of fun. But, just like how you do not need supple Italian leather shoes, granite counter tops and crystal chandeliers may not be functional for you right now. Make compromises in your budget by creating a checklist of yours needs versus your wants, including peripheral items, like the neighborhood, school system and commute.
Cut Down Your Payments with a Bigger Down Payment
Putting 20% or more into your home’s down payment adds immediate equity to your first home and can lower your monthly payments significantly. If you can’t afford to do this, there are still alternatives and we can work with you and mortgage agents to find something that fits your situation.
Explore Your Options
Good news! Banks and government organizations often offer perks, like lower interest rate loans, low down-payment options or assistance programs, for first-time home buyers who meet certain criteria.
What is this Crazy Process?
Unlike shoe shopping, where you can bring your purchase home and jump right into them, finding the perfect home is only the beginning of process that can seem daunting. When making your initial offer, realize that negotiation is inevitable. There is no way to know exactly what type of offer the seller will accept.
Have it Inspected
When you think you’ve found “the one,” get inspected! Spending a little bit of money on a quality home inspection is key to understanding your new home and can leave you confident in your investment or alleviate the stress of potential problems down the road. Check with national associations, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors when looking for an Inspector to be sure they abide by certain standards and ethics. Of course, we can always steer you in the right direction when it comes to hiring an inspector.
Fun’s Not Free, But it CAN be Affordable
One of the most exciting aspects of buying your first home is settling in and making it uniquely yours. A Pottery Barn inspired living room doesn’t come cheap, but flea markets, yard sales and consignment shops are great places to find unique furniture and decorations. Shopping on the cheap also ensures that you are leaving yourself enough money for other costs, like insurance, maintenance and taxes.
Buying a first home is one of life’s big “firsts,” but doing your research and having the right team of Realtors at your back can make or break the experience. We are here to help make sure that this memory is perfect.