The process of buying a home can feel intimidating, especially for first-time buyers. You are committing to a major purchase and want to make the right decisions. Here is a practical guide to buying your first house while avoiding common pitfalls along the way.
Steps to Buying Your First House
1. Select a Buyer’s Agent
A real estate agent’s job is to represent your best interests. When you are purchasing a home, have a buyer’s agent on your side. The agent will help you find listings, set up showings, advise you on fair pricing, and help you through the closing process.
Look for an agent who has experience with clients who are buying their first house. Choose someone who you are comfortable talking to about your questions and concerns.
2. Make a Wish List of Features
When taking steps to buy your first house, creating a list of must-haves is helpful in finding the right home. Make a list of the things you want and things that you need. For example, you may want a pool on your new property, but you may need a certain number of bedrooms for all of your family members.
3. Buying Your First House? Get Your Mortgage Approved First
Applying for a mortgage loan takes time. Get pre-approved before you start house hunting. The lender can pre-approve you for a certain amount so you’ll know the price range you can afford. When it comes to buying your first house, this is a step many people overlook.
Sellers take pre-approved buyers more seriously, which can give you the edge in a bidding war. It also makes the closing faster since the approval is already in place.
4. Determine What Monthly Payment You Are Comfortable With
The bank will tell you the maximum they think you can afford to pay for a new home. However, you should feel comfortable that you can make your mortgage payment while keeping any other financial obligations current. Keep in mind that you will also need to pay homeowners insurance and other maintenance costs associated with owning a home.
5. Make a Fair Offer
It is tempting to lowball your offer to save money. But, unless the home has been on the market for a long time or has serious issues, a low offer will not help you buy a house. Offer the seller a fair price based on what your agent tells you the home is worth.
6. Don’t Act Impulsively
Deciding too quickly about buying a home can be a disaster. You may pay too much for a house that’s not right for you, or buy one that you can’t really afford. New listings appear on the market every day. If your first pick doesn’t work out, don’t get discouraged.
7. Get a Home Inspection When Buying Your First House
Don’t buy a home and find out later that it needs major repairs. A home inspection will give you a thorough assessment of the property before you buy it. This gives you the chance to opt out of the deal or negotiate a lower price based on the cost of any needed repairs.
Talking with a real estate agent, hiring a home inspector, and following these steps will help get you safely through the process of buying your first house.