Buying your first home can seem like an overwhelming or even scary process, but don’t let it intimidate you. The pride you’ll feel as a new homeowner, not to mention the long term financial benefits of homeownership, will be worth the effort. These practical tips will make the whole process easier and will help ensure you end up in a home you love.
Decide on your target area
Knowing exactly where you want to live will help you narrow your home search, and keep you from wasting time looking at too many houses. If you’re not sure of the area you prefer, spend some time driving around the different neighborhoods you are considering. If you have children or plan to have children, research the school districts and make sure they are up to your standards. And before setting up an appointment to look at a home, do a drive-by to make sure you like the setting and specific part of the neighborhood.
Prioritize your preferences
Come up with a list of the most important aspects of a home, for both you and your family. Whether it is layout, amenities, location, condition, or price, decide what matters most. And be prepared to make sacrifices, particularly in areas that are less important. It’s highly unlikely you’ll find a home that matches every single one of your preferences, but if you can meet the top 5, you’ll probably end up very happy.
Be willing to accept defects
No home will be perfect, and to get a great deal on an ideal home, you may need to accept some defects. Asking the seller to pay for repairs will weaken your offer, and make it more likely they will sell to someone else. In cases of VA or FHA loans, you’ll need to ask for certain repairs relating to safety concerns or missing appliances, due to federal regulations governing these loan programs. But don’t ask for more than is necessary.
The home buying market, particularly on the more affordable end, is very competitive right now in many areas. You or your realtor should be checking for newly listed properties regularly, and don’t delay when you spot a property that suits your needs and desires. Waiting even a few days to look at a home can mean missing your chance to make an offer before its sold.
Take the time to learn about your local housing market, and stay current on trends. This can give you an advantage over more experienced buyers who assume they know enough and don’t bother to stay current. This will also make you more able to spot good deals and spot suspicious deals that seem too good to be true.