7 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers
As an undeniable step in the traditional adulting dream, purchasing a home is something many hard-working professionals look forward to. While owning your own place is an exciting milestone, it requires a process that few people understand until they’ve done it themselves. We’re here to help you confidently navigate the home-buying process!
You can’t put a price on a great Realtor.
As with any industry, reading reviews and asking for recommendations is vital to finding a quality Realtor, but you should also meet with potential Realtors before agreeing to one. Working with an agent who understands the market, has tons of experience, and is only a call away will greatly reduce your stress, from day one all the way to closing. Realtors are required, by law, to work for you and your best interests.
*Note – not all real estate agents are Realtors, and this is an important distinction. Realtors are held to higher standards and have to pass a more rigid certification process.
Set financial limits for yourself.
Getting approved for a big mortgage may actually be a problem for first-time homebuyers who don’t manage their finances. After all, you don’t want to be stuck with a mortgage that you can’t afford. It’s up to you to be conscious of your budget and project all your future expenses to see what you can afford.
Get a home warranty.
Not so fun fact about being a homeowner: You can’t call your landlord when something breaks. (You’re the landlord now!) Typically, during closing, the seller and buyer will negotiate adjustments to the listing price based on damages or potential maintenance needs that could prove costly in the future. One way to protect yourself as a buyer is through home warranty insurance, sometimes offered by the seller.
Be prepared to move fast.
Your Realtor will be able to outline specific market conditions and predict how swiftly the buying process will move once a bid is accepted, but as a general tip, be prepared to ‘move fast, then wait’.
As you proceed in the home buying journey, there will be deadlines to meet, with bid due dates and when submitting paperwork. You may need to move fast to get everything in order, but then wait until processes are sorted out on the other end. This is another example of the importance of working with a good Realtor.
If you see something, say something.
Listening to your gut is your best defense during critical decision-making. If anything concerning comes up during your showing, speak up. Your home inspector will of course look at things more closely, but you should always be looking out for:
- Cracks in the walls
- Uneven or damaged floors
- Signs of water damage or mold.
Take note of minor issues you notice as well, such as:
- Old, or chipped, or peeling paint
- Water pressure in the taps
- Light switches that don’t work.
Voice your concerns to either the person leading you through the viewing, or with the inspectors to determine if you are comfortable proceeding with the deal.
Why is this so important? Once you sign the papers, those problems become your problems. You don’t want to be blindsided by maintenance expenses. Speak up in the early stages so you don’t make a mistake during one of the biggest financial transactions of your life! (No pressure though!)
Be willing to walk away.
Whether it’s out of your budget, too far from work, or just doesn’t feel right, you need to be willing to walk away from any property you view. There will be amazing aspects of almost every house you see, but stay focused on the bigger picture of your needs and budget.
Buying a home is a huge decision, and you should treat it as such by doing your due diligence, talking to people close to you and your Realtor, and imagining yourself living there for the next 10+ years.
Listen to your opinion above all others.
It might seem like everyone has an opinion, on postal codes, price ranges, styles, and beyond. Most of the time, family and friends have kind intentions, but once you sign on the dotted line for your mortgage, that’s it. It’s yours—and your responsibility alone. While asking for feedback, remember to trust your gut and follow what feels right to you, your goals, and your future.
- Working with a Realtor will make the home-buying process much easier for you, and will guarantee your interests are protected.
- Just because you can get a big mortgage doesn’t mean you should. Consider all your income and spending to determine how much you can really afford to spend on your house.
- Holding back concerns will result in disappointment later.
- When in doubt, go with your gut. Don’t rush if you don’t 100% believe it’s the property for you. Remember, once you sign, it’s yours!