House Hunting Tips for First-Time Buyers
For most people, buying a home is a once-in-a-lifetime investment. Yet, many of us have little idea how to go about this endeavor. It’s understandable, especially if you’re a first-time buyer: there are so many decisions to make, steps to take, and emotions to handle!
Besides deciding on how many beds and baths you want, there are many other things, one should consider when buying a home. Here are some house hunting tips for first-time buyers:
1. Affordability: One major mistake many home buyers make is buying too much home. Do not buy a bigger home or one with every bell and whistle just cause your friends are doing it; buy what you can afford and budget, or you’ll struggle to make your mortgage payments. We want to enjoy home; it shouldn’t be a source of daily stress.
2. Make a list of your needs: Before you look at a single home, make a list of what you must have. Things to consider include the size, location, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, indoor garage, kitchen type, etc. Do not deviate from your needs because this will sabotage your budget and cause a great deal of confusion and apprehension regarding home buying.
3. Credit Score: One of the eligibility criteria for a mortgage is a good credit score. Before you start searching for homes, know what your credit score is. You can get a free credit report from Equifax, Credit Karma, and Experian. When it comes to your score, the higher, the better, so take care of any items (e.g., outstanding debts, erroneous entries) that you can ASAP.
4. Down payment: Do you have 20% to put down? Start saving! Lenders are increasingly going back to this model - but there are instances when you can put less down, depending on your loan type. Investigate, and see what you need to save. Don’t forget to factor in closing costs!
Bottom line: The more money you save for a down payment, the lower your monthly payments will be.
5. Preapproval letter: Go to a lender and see if you can get a preapproval letter. Getting this letter reveals that you have qualified for a loan, and most home sellers will realize that you are a bona fide buyer who has the financial wherewithal to complete the transaction.
6. Location: Buying a home in the right area is critical. One needs to consider schools nearby, shopping centers, nearby traffic, public transport, ease of access to the highways, noise, and most importantly, the job distance.
7. The exterior: Most buyers usually consider the home’s interior, but the exterior is vitally important. Is the home very close to other homes, which allows the neighbors to look directly into your bedroom or bathroom? Is there a backyard, and is it suitable for other things besides just storing the garbage bins?
8. Your neighbors: It is essential to check out the local neighborhood to ensure that it is safe and welcoming. If your neighbors keep the place messy, it can affect the value of your home. Walk around the neighborhood and determine if it is safe enough for people to walk, exercise, or kids to play outside.
9. Size of the home: While it is nice to have a large home with endless bedrooms and baths, this may not be practical if you have a small family. Remember, the larger the home, the more cleaning it requires. Besides, your utility bills and property taxes will also be higher.
Be practical and buy a home that suits your lifestyle, or you may end up with more bills than you dreamed of. Remember: don’t buy more home than you need (now and into the future).
10. Consider renovations and updates: Some people buy an older home with the idea of renovating it later. However, consult with a builder first who may advise you on space planning and the local city regulations, which may not permit some types of renovations.
11. Does the home have HVAC? The North American climate is one of the extremes- it gets hot and humid in the summer and icy cold in the winter. Hence you want to make sure that the home already has an HVAC system installed; many older homes may not. If not, you will end up thousands of dollars to install an HVAC system.
12. The kitchen: For many buyers, the kitchen should be spacious, open, and modern. Unfortunately, some buyers may buy a home with a small dark, dreary kitchen with the hopes of remodeling it later. Well, kitchen remodeling will set you back a minimum of $20,000. If you do not have that kind of spare money, look for a kitchen that already meets your needs. Or hone your DIY skills!
13. Storage space: Another factor often missed by potential buyers is storage and closet space. We live in a world where most people have way too much stuff, and thus storage space is essential. Many older homes do not have decent storage space or closets. Remodeling these homes for large spaces can be a costly venture. So if you have many items that need storage, look for a home with large closets.
14. Windows: Many older homes appear dark and dull because the small windows do not permit adequate light. Well, if you love nature, sunlight, and brightness, then make sure the home has plenty of large windows. Other things that can brighten the home include a roof window, cove lighting, or chandeliers. While you can always have these additions done later, it will save you money if the home already has these features.
15. Realtor: There are good realtors, and there are some exceptional real estate agents. So start your search for a realtor at Homes & Land. These professionals can help you with the process of home buying, educate you on the finances, and help negotiate a price for the home. You should not proceed with home buying without a great realtor, as you may end up paying significantly more than what the home is worth.
Homes & Land has a comprehensive list of homes with prices across the nation, and we can connect you with realtors who can help make your dream of homeownership a reality. For the resources, information, and connections you need, there is no better one-stop site.
There are many free online checklists available for first-time home buyers. With a checklist, house hunting is simplified, painless, and a fun process. The key to home buying is to know what you want and stay within your budget.
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