Opening New Doors: Homebuying Tips for the First-Time Buyer
By Karen McDorman from Irongate Inc., Realtors
Buying your first home is extremely exciting, but it can also feel a little bit terrifying. After all, it’s probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. Not only do you need to find the perfect home, but you also have to worry about details like saving up for a down-payment, securing a mortgage, and knowing how to handle the negotiation process.
While this might seem overwhelming, it’s certainly doable. Take a deep breath and get started with these five simple tips for first-time homebuyers.
- Prepare Yourself Financially
Unless you’re sitting on a huge pile of cash, it’s very likely that you’ll need to apply for a loan to buy your home. Make sure you’re financially ready by checking your credit score, paying down debts, and building up your emergency fund.
Once you’ve completed these first steps, review your budget in detail and decide how much you can afford to pay for a home. Consider consulting with a lender or mortgage broker to calculate your approximate monthly mortgage payment and help you determine how much of a down-payment you’ll need.
- Make a List of Your Must-Have Features
Once you have a feel for your price range, make a list of any must-have features you’re looking for in a home. If you’re not sure, think about going to open houses so you can get a feel for what’s available on the market.
It’s also a good idea to decide which type of home best suits your lifestyle and preferences. There’s no sense wasting time looking at sprawling homes in the suburbs if you really want to live in a bustling downtown area. This is also a good time to consider the importance of things like commute times, school districts, and local amenities.
- Contact a Qualified REALTOR®
Working with a REALTOR® is a great idea for all homebuyers, but it’s especially important when you’re buying your first home. Experienced REALTORS® know all about local neighborhoods and have their finger on the pulse when it comes to pricing, contract terms, and more.
Not only is your REALTOR® the best person to help you find your dream home, he or she will also walk you through the complexities of the negotiating process. If something isn’t right, REALTORS® are often the first to notice and are prepared to go to bat on your behalf.
- Research Your Potential New Neighborhood
When you’re looking at potential properties, remember that a seemingly perfect home in a less-than-ideal neighborhood is NOT the perfect home. While you can always add another bathroom or re-do the flooring, the one thing you can’t do is pick up your house and move it.
Before you consider buying a house, do some research and check out the neighborhood. Check online rating sites and read local crime reports. Walk or drive around the area and speak to any neighbors you run into. Remember to visit both in the light of day and at night. Check to see whether the other homes in the area are well-kept and if any red flags make you nervous. If you don’t feel completely safe, it’s probably best to keep looking.
- Make a Competitive Offer
Once you’ve found “the one” it’s time to make an offer. Although this is a scary step, your REALTOR® will help you through it. Before making an official offer, confirm that the price fits into your budget, is appropriate for the home’s value, and that you’re approaching it with a clear head instead of getting caught up in the emotions.
If your offer is accepted, you can prepare for closing. Your REALTOR® will take care of most of the details including scheduling a home inspection, coordinating the final walk-through, and helping you deal with any roadblocks you hit along the way. In almost all cases, this process takes less than two months. Once your closing date arrives, you’ll be the proud owner of your first home!
Karen L. McDorman – REALTOR®
Irongate Inc., Realtors
5 W. Wenger Rd.
Englewood, OH 45322
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