You’ve decided that you’re ready to purchase your first home, but have no idea where to start. Well, you’re certainly not alone. Many first time home buyers end up learning that finding and purchasing the home of their dreams is a lot more complex than they thought. It requires a series of steps and several professional services to come to fruition. One oversight could put the process on hold or put you back on the drawing board. From locating the right property to hiring a real estate agent and securing a mortgage, there’s a lot to be done, and these tips will make your journey a bit easier.
Determine What You Can Afford
There’s nothing worse than finding a house you like to find out that it’s way out of your budget. Prior to shopping around for properties for sale, it is ideal to determine exactly how much house you can afford. Though you’ve already set aside funds for the down payment and the closing costs, once you close on the home, there are a lot of other associated costs you’ll need to pay for. You should factor in expenses like property taxes, interest rates, homeowners insurance, maintenance and repairs, and utilities.
Not sure how much all of this would cost? You can get some ballpark figures to work with. Start by getting quotes or pre-approvals from a home mortgage company to see what you’d pay for a mortgage and interest. Property taxes can easily be assessed online while averages of homeowners insurance and utilities can be gathered from local service providers. Leave room in the budget for maintenance and repairs and this should give you a roundabout idea of how much you can afford to dedicate towards a home.
Hire a Real Estate Agent
Since it is your first go-round purchasing a house, it is recommended that you hire a real estate agent to help. They are aware of the housing market you’re most interested in moving to and can help you narrow down your search to find a home that meets your needs. Charging based on commission, you can negotiate a reasonable rate to pay your agent for their services. With a database filled with local listings, foreclosures, and short sales, a realtor has a network of resources that they’ll utilize to get you in a home.
If you’re going to work with a real estate agent you should know what to look for. You want to hire someone who has experience in real estate and more importantly, in the housing market you’re looking to move into. You should look for someone who has a great rapport and positive reviews from clients they’ve previously helped. Lastly, you want an agent who offers reasonable rates and utilizes all their resources to help you purchase the home of your dreams.
You know the true cost of homeownership and how much you can afford. You have taken the time to find a real estate agent to assist you with your search. The next step would be to begin shopping for your home. As there are literally thousands of listings across the country to view, to narrow down your search it is recommended that you have a list of preferences. This includes your price range, the area you’re looking to move to, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, whether you want to live in the city or suburbs, the school systems and level of crime, and anything other personal accommodations you need.
Your agent will be supplying you with a list of properties and scheduling visits, however, you can feel free to search for your dream home online through various databases. Using the information from above, you can filter your search to show properties that best match your needs. As you find properties you’re interested in, jot down the contact information so your real estate agent can reach out. Open houses are also a bonus to look for as you can see the house fully furnished to get an idea if it’s somewhere you’d like to live.
Once you’ve found a home you’re interested in, be sure to visit it, have it inspected, and then make an offer. If your offer is accepted, you’ll go through what is known as the closing process in which the transfer of ownership will begin. Before long you’ll be handed the keys and deed to your new property.
If you thought that the steps you took before deciding to purchase a home were plentiful, you should know that actually buying a home involves a lot more effort and discipline. That being said, if you follow the above-mentioned steps and rely on the services of a reliable mortgage company and real estate agent, you should have no problem in finding a home to make your own.