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Helpful Tips for a First-Time Home Buyer

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Helpful Tips for a First-Time Home Buyer


After a good deal of thought, you have decided to purchase your first home; however, seeing as this process is entirely new to you, you are, not sure where to get started. 

That is why you are reading this article; you need first-time home buyer tips. Fortunately, we can provide them to you. Without further ado, here are a handful of tips for a first-time home buyer. 

Get Pre-approved

First and foremost, you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This way, when you are searching for houses, and finally decide to put in an offer, your offer will be taken seriously. 

Pre-approval shows that you will have the necessary funds to pay for the house. It shows that a mortgage lender is, indeed, planning on lending you a mortgage. 

How do you get pre-approved? Find a bank, or a credit union, or some other lender, fill out the requisite paperwork, and wait for an offer. Your lender will provide you with an amount that you can spend up to, which can then be used as leverage when putting in a bid on a house. 

Hire a Real Estate Agent

You do not technically need to hire a real estate agent in order to purchase a home. That said, purchasing a home without a real estate agent can be a real pain. 

Not only do real estate agents help you to scope out potential homes but they also handle the grunt work of the home buying process. This includes filling out and filing the necessary paperwork, negotiating the price with the seller, and submitting formal offers. 

Another downside of foregoing a real estate agent is that you could miss out on a number of valuable resources. For instance, the real estate agent might know mortgage brokers that are able to get you the best long-term deal possible. 

For your second or third home purchase, you might be able to get the job done without a real estate agent. For your first home buying experience, hiring a real estate agent is highly recommended. 

Research First-Time Home Buyer Programs

In most areas, there are first-time homebuyer programs that will enable you to save money on your first home purchase. These are typically offered by local and state governments, though there are private programs available as well. 

For instance, if you buy in a specific town, they might give you a few thousand dollars to help cover closing costs. Or, if you make under a certain amount of money, your state might give you funds to help with a downpayment. 

To find these programs in your area, simply go to Google and type "first-time homebuyer grants/programs [your location]". You should get all types of results. A real estate agent can help you find these programs as well. 

Pay Off Your Debt

Generally speaking, it is advised that you do not purchase a home until all of your debt is paid off. This is so for a number of reasons. 

For one, paying off your debt enables you to wipe the slate clean, giving you the best chance possible of making your mortgage payments in the future. It is much easier to cover, say, $1,500 a month when you do not also have to pay a $200 credit card bill and a $500 student loan bill. 

The other big reason for paying off debt is that it will help you get a lower interest rate on your mortgage. The lender will trust you more and will reward you with a lower payment over time. 

Now, this is not a hard and fast rule. There are some situations in which it is wise to buy now, regardless of whether you are in debt or not. 

For instance, if it is going to take you 20 years to pay off your student loans, you should not wait 20 years to buy a house. Or, if you have kids and want to get them settled into a permanent neighborhood, you should not sacrifice their well-being just because you have a few thousand dollars worth of credit card debt. 

The real point here is to not hinder yourself. Do not put yourself in a position where you are not able to pay your bills comfortably. 

When that mortgage begins, you will be expected to pay it. Payments will be due monthly, and if you are not able to pay them in a timely manner, your lender will eventually foreclose on the house. 

You do not want to go through a foreclosure. So, just make sure you are in a decent financial position before buying. 

Consider the Future

When you buy a home, you are likely looking to put your roots down, at least for a decent amount of time. If you sell a home too quickly after buying it, you could actually end up losing money in the long run. 

As such, before you purchase, you need to consider the future. Are you planning on being here for the next 5 years or so? Will your planned equity in the home allow you to break even in the event that you sell? 

In addition, are you planning on having children someday? If so, you might want to opt for a home with more rooms. 

Do you think your lifestyle might change within the next few years? For instance, do you think you will start prioritizing gardening and bonfires over public events and restaurants? If so, it might be a good idea to opt for a home with a bigger yard. 

The point is: you should not just live in the here and now. That works for a lot of purposes but not for buying a home. You need to think about where you will be in a few years and determine whether your prospective home will be able to serve your needs. 

Scope Out the Area

There is a lot that you can find out about an area by just researching online; however, this will never give you a true feel for the place. If you want to know exactly what you are getting yourself into, you need to scope out the area in person. 

Hang around your prospective home for a few hours every day leading up to the purchase. Make sure there are not any abrasive neighbors; determine whether you like the amount of activity that happens around the house; ensure that you would actually be happy living there. 

Yes, this requires a decent time commitment; however, considering the size of the investment you are about to make, that time commitment is well worth your while. 

Take All Costs Into Account

When you purchase a home, you are not just purchasing a home, you are also purchasing property taxes and home insurance and maybe even private mortgage insurance. There could be Homeowner's Association fees to boot, not to mention the closing costs. 

As such, before you decide to purchase a home, make sure that you receive a full run-down of the costs. In some areas, property taxes can add $300 to $1,000 a month to the mortgage. Add interest to this, and your payments can skyrocket. 

There are a number of non-home-purchase costs that you will need to consider as well. For instance, the home will eventually require repairs and replacements. Swapping out an air conditioner, for instance, can set you back several thousands of dollars. 

You will want to make sure that you have an emergency fund available so that you can cover these inevitable costs. They can crop up out of nowhere, and if you do not have the necessary funds, they can put you into serious debt. 

Schedule an Inspection

Except in the direst of circumstances, you need to have your prospective home inspected before buying. Inspections are important in that they help to spot underlying problems with the home, such as foundation damage, water damage, plumbing damage, electrical damage, and the like. 

If these problems exist, you could have to pay thousands of dollars in order to fix them. This can directly impact how much you are willing to pay for the home. It might even bring you to decide that you do not want the home. 

Considering how big of an investment residential property is, you want to make sure that you are getting a decent deal. It is worth paying a few hundred bucks at the beginning of the transaction to ensure that you are getting what you are paying for. 

Put These First-Time Home Buyer Tips to Good Use

And there they are, a handful of first-time home buyer tips for you to utilize. Put these tips into action and you are sure to get the home you want at a price you can afford. 

In need of other real estate tips? Hommati has you covered. Check out our other blog posts now!