If you’re in the market for your first home, now is the perfect time to begin looking. Most sellers are desperate to get a contract, there are more homes available to buy than ever before, and affordability is at an all time high. For first time buyers, the home purchasing process can be a bit daunting- but if you follow these simple dos and don’ts, you should be able to find your dream space with minimal hassle.
- Be over informed. Browse relentlessly for housing information, because your greatest asset in the home buying process is knowledge. Read as much as you can about the market, utilize home price comparison indexes, and don’t be afraid to join a real estate forum or too. The internet has a wealth of information about real estate that is absolutely invaluable to first time buyers.
- Know your credit score. You can get your credit report from a number of websites, and depending on the results you might need to make some adjustments to your financial habits before you can begin to think about applying for a loan.
- Consider a mortgage pre-approval. An early go-ahead on a loan will help you stay within your budget while you shop for a new home, and put you in a great position for potential negotiations.
- Assemble a dream team. When in doubt, trust the professionals. Look into hiring a real estate agent, attorney, mortgage broker and a home inspector to help clarify and smooth out the process for you.
- Buy for your lifestyle. Keep your goals in mind when shopping for a house. Anticipate how long you’ll be living in your home and what you’ll accomplish there. If you’re thinking about raising children, housing in laws or running a business from your basement, these will affect your property choices.
- Prioritize! Be sensible when deciding what you want out of your future home, and don’t forget to separate your needs from your wants. Once you figure out what is really important to you, it will make finding the right place so much easier. Once you have a list of narrowed down essentials, it’s a lot harder to be overwhelmed.
- Fall in love with the first place you see. You might end up with buyer’s regret. If you find a place you love right away, research the neighborhood as best you can. Look at other options before rushing into anything. Always try to be objective about your own long term housing needs and not your feelings.
- Buy more than you can afford. It’s far better to have a smaller place with a manageable loan than a big house that puts you in crippling debt. Remember, just because you can get a bigger loan, doesn’t always mean you should.
- Treat your home like a stock portfolio. You should never buy a house just because it’s a good investment. Homes accumulate and deprecate value in cycles that are rarely predictable. If you bought your home just so you could turn a profit after a few years, you’re likely to be disappointed. Buy a house because you love it and need a roof over your head. Not because you might make money off it.
- Sign up for a confusing mortgage. Shop around for the loan that suits you and your needs. Avoid multi-option “creative financing’ loans, they just spell trouble and will give you a headache in the long term. If you don’t understand something, don’t sign it until you’ve had a professional you trust explain it to you.