If you are ready to buy your first house, congratulations! This is an exciting time that can bring you sweet rewards. It’s also a time, however, full of questions. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to get you started.
Before you shop, you must decide what type of home is best. Are you looking for a condo, with a strong sense of community, extra amenities, easy maintenance, and willing to pay a monthly HOA fee? Would you prefer a larger house in the suburbs, even if it means a longer commute? Are you looking for older charm or newer construction?
After you’ve decided this, write down a list of your wants and needs. This is a time to be honest with yourself. Rarely does a homebuyer get everything they “want” in a home. You will need to compromise. For example, you may need 3 bedrooms, but want a fenced back yard. If push comes to shove, you may have to forgo the fenced yard to get the bedrooms.
When you begin to shop, have a budget in mind. While prices are always negotiable, you don’t want to waste your or a seller’s time. Be realistic about a home’s price. Let your real estate agent compile a list of homes to visit that fit your criteria, as well as your budget. As you make your way to and through the homes, be sure you don’t judge a home until you’ve been through the entire place. There are homes that seriously lack curb appeal, but with a few cosmetic enhancements can be real showstoppers.
Pay close attention to what repairs the home may need. Don’t get swept up by fantastic staging. Keep your list of criteria in mind the entire shopping process.
Once you have decided on a home, it is time to begin negotiations. Do not hesitate. Desirable homes don’t sit on the market for long. Hesitation may translate into missing out on a property that you really love. That said, you must be confident with your decision. This is not a time to buy a house simply because you feel pressured.
Your agent will help you put in an offer. By researching area comparables (that’s other homes that have sold or are selling in the area), they can come up with a reasonable amount to pay. How much are you willing to pay for this home? Set a top number in your mind and don’t let emotion push you to buy past your budget. And leave room in your coffers for closing costs, a down payment, initial repairs, as well as a home inspection.
Home buying can be a stressful process, but keep the end goal in sight and you’ll do great!