Are you done paying someone else’s mortgage (goodbye, rent money!) and ready to find a home to call all your own? As a first-time homebuyer, the process of purchasing real estate can be daunting.
If you’re soon to buy your very first home, check out these tips to prepare for the tremendous (and exciting!) journey ahead.
Saving up and budgeting accordingly is the smartest way to enter the home-buying process, especially as a first-time buyer unaccustomed to the extra costs associated with buying – and moving. In addition to a down payment (which can be as little as 3%), ensure you have saved adequately for the closing costs, brokerage fees and the moving process.
When the time comes to submit an offer on a home, stick close to your budget. Any home you move into will have surprise costs down the line and especially as you get acquainted in the new space and decorate, so spending more than you bargained for upfront can usurp funds for maintenance and repairs.
Speak to a mortgage professional
Over the past year, mortgage rates have dipped to record lows, making it an appealing time for homebuyers who planned on taking out a mortgage to do so.
Before the home-buying process begins, first-time homebuyers should consider consulting a mortgage professional of their choice. A mortgage broker will be able to advise buyers on the advantages of pre-approval or pre-qualification, which can be important in today’s market where homes are selling quickly (and over asking price). Doing so will also help shape and determine a realistic price range of properties.
Start the property search online
Over the past year, buyers have taken to online shopping more than ever – especially for their future homes. Use advanced online resources – like remax.com and the RE/MAX Real Estate Search App – to jumpstart your home search. Combing through listings online allows you to see a wider range of properties – and rule out some before it’s time to tour.
The “Favorite” feature on the RE/MAX app, for example, allows you (and any home search partner) to like, dislike and save properties all in one organized digital space. It’s truly helpful when it comes to perfecting the home search from home.
Use a trusted real estate professional
When it’s time to make one of the largest purchases of your lifetime, don’t go through the process alone – especially in today’s fast-paced, competitive market. Working with a full-time agent who has expertise in all facets of real estate can help make the experience more streamlined and less stressful.
A trusted real estate expert knows the ins and outs of your local housing market, has fine-tuned negotiation skills, can identify (and tackle) issues along the way, and is prepared to find the best fit for you and any family members (pets included). Plus, real estate agents have tips and tricks specifically for submitting offers in a seller’s market.
Be ready to compromise
Remember that your first home won’t necessarily be your last. Know that you may not find a home with all of your dream features within your price point. This is why it’s important to make a list of “wants vs. needs” to help guide your home-buying journey.
What features can you live with in the meantime until you can renovate? And what features are a deal breaker? When reflecting on these factors, consider what budget-friendly DIY projects you could complete upon move-in to help make some of those less-desired features work for you. It could be fixes as simple as a new coat of paint, peel-and-stick wallpaper, resurfaced kitchen cabinets or new hardware.
Look at the whole picture
With the prospect and excitement of homeownership on the horizon, it’s easy for first-time buyers to get emotionally attached to properties throughout the search process. Remember to analyze each potential home holistically, considering location, accessibility, commute times and proximity to frequented places – in addition to the house itself.
Right now, homes are selling fast. This means it’s wise to not get too attached to any particular home in the event of being outbid or losing the sale. But don’t worry – your perfect first home is out there. It just may take you (and your RE/MAX agent!) a little bit of time to find the right one.