What is the biggest investment you will ever make? Buying your home. Two years ago we decided that we didn’t want to rent any longer and wanted to become homeowners. Also, our family was expanding, and we felt it was a perfect time to pursue owning our own home.
We learned so much along the way and have a lot of handy tips to assist you with your first homebuying experience.
Crunch the numbers
Before you even start doing the fun part of touring homes, get your financial stuff in order. And this means finding out what your credit score is and figuring out what you can afford. When figuring this out, don’t forget to factor in costs like escrowing for property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and anything else appropriate for your situation. Your mortgage payment will not strictly consist of just a principal and interest payment.
Also, this is a perfect time to see if you qualify for any special home loan programs in your state. Sometimes there are great programs for first-time homebuyers. All in all, do your research.
Notes and organization are a lifesaver
Chances are you’ve already been looking at homes, driving past ones in neighborhoods you like, and this is the time to see as many homes as possible. I should warn you that after awhile all the homes will start to look the same and become blurred in your mind.
You won’t remember which house had the great yard, which one had the weird fencing, and which one had the strange walkway.
To combat this, I took the information sheets and jotted notes on them right away and used a ranking system. Then I stored them in a binder.
I also encourage you to hold on to the fact sheet of homes you may feel you don’t like because there’s a good chance you could change your mind down the road. You’ll also find that your preferences and taste will change throughout this process. If you were only going to accept homes with four bedrooms, then after realizing that 80% of the homes you’re seeing are only three bedrooms, you’ll realize that the number of bedrooms is not such a deal breaker after all.
Realize you won’t get everything on your home wishlist
When you’re working with a budget, be willing to accept that your home is not going to meet every one of your wants. Some must-haves will win out against others.
I didn’t get my open-concept home, and my kitchen doesn’t have a huge center island like I wanted, but I fell in love with other aspects of the home — maybe not the fact that I have four bathrooms, but you win some, you lose some.
Don’t be afraid to fire a bad realtor
It’s difficult to tell whether the realtor you reach out to will be the one who looks out for your best interests or one to sour your homebuying experience. Here are some clues it’s time to fire your realtor:
- She hardly sends you home listings, and you have to find 95% of them yourself.
- She arrives late to showings.
- When she finally does arrive, she is unprepared and unsure of how to even get into the house (I kid you not).
- She scolds you, tells you to be patient, and says she has other clients too.
Unfortunately, our first realtor didn’t have our best interest at heart and did every one of these things I mentioned. When we switched to someone else and pulled up to view a home and saw that he was already there, the lights were on, the door was opened, and he had all sorts of information sheets ready for us, it was quite the breath of fresh air.
Finally we were working with someone who cared about us!
Make an offer that’s fair and works for you
Let’s face it, we all want a deal. But I encourage you to research, stick to your budget, and do your best to bid fairly. You don’t want to offend the seller and potentially lose out to other bidders too.
This can get tricky so my advice is to go with your instincts. Also, keep your emotions in check so you don’t do anything you’ll regret.
Homeownership is a big step and one of those things no one ever teaches you how to accomplish. You can read all about it until the cows come home, but going through it is something else. Don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy this journey. You’re going to be making lots of memories in your new home. You’ll never get to buy your first home again.
As long as you’re knowledgeable and prepared before embarking on this cumbersome process, it’s not so scary after all. You want to make sure your numbers are in order, you stay organized, disengage yourself from unhelpful people, find a home you’re comfortable with, and enjoy this process. You’ll soon be opening the door to your beautiful home!
If you’ve already gone through purchasing your first home, what are some takeaways you learned?
Please share this if you found it helpful!