Buying

Advice for First-Time Buyers

The first time you buy a home can be the most exciting and the most nerve-racking experience. In order to make the process a positive one, take this helpful advice for first-time buyers to heart.

It can help you avoid many of the mistakes that first-time homebuyers make and can ensure that you buy the house that is right for you. Here is the general roadmap for happy house hunting!

Financing First

Before you even begin to start saving properties and calling agents, you have to get your finances in order. That begins with cleaning up old debts, improving your credit score, and building up a healthy savings to put down a 20% down payment if at all possible. Get this done first.

At the very least, most banks will require 5% down. Just know that lenders will typically require you to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) if your down payment is less than 20%

Once you have your financial ducks in a row, it’s time to start preparing for the house hunt. The first step is actually going to a bank and getting pre-approved for a home loan.

Keep in mind that pre-approval and pre-qualification are two different things:

  • Pre-Qualification: Only tells you how much you can afford for a home.
  • Pre-Approval: Tells you how much the bank will guarantee to lend you for a home.

When you go to an open house with a pre-approval letter in hand, the seller knows that you are a serious buyer. Plus knowing exactly how much you are approved for can help you stay within your budget. When budgeting for your home purchase, don’t forget to include other costs that will arise like:

  • Inspections
  • Repairs
  • Closing Costs
  • Contingencies
  • And Other Fees

Know What You Are Looking For

Now comes the fun part for first-time homebuyers. Now you get to put together your wish list for the house that you really want. You will want to have two lists to work from. One list is your list of needs:

  • Specific Number of Bedrooms
  • Specific Number of Bathrooms
  • Square Footage
  • Location, Etc.

These are the things that you cannot budge on. These may include a lot of other things like specific school districts or distance from your place of employment. That is your primary list. Your second list is your wants; things that you would love to have but are not a deal-breaker if they are not included. Things like:

  • Pool
  • Attic Bedroom
  • Finished Basement
  • Multi-Car Garage, Etc.