Advice for First-Time Buyers
Buying a home is a major step in anyone's life. You should
prepare yourself by making a few preliminary decisions to determining what
you want and can afford. Following the steps below can make your life much
Tips on Buying a Home
1. Determine How Much You Can Afford
- Plan ahead: List
out your sources of income, savings, monthly expenses, and other
Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay
for a home.
knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much
more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved.ï¿½Also
you'll avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of
your price range. For pre-approval, the buyer actually applies for a
mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way,
assuming that the house you desire is at or under the amount you are
pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious
buyer for that property. Costs for preapproval are generally nominal and
often lenders will permit you to pay them when you close your loan.
2. Start Your Home Search
- List of Needs & Wants:
Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the
number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story
house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wish
list, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that aren't
absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably
won't get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track
for what you're looking for. Be mindful of the location of your place of
business, preferred schools, proximity to doctors and hospitals,
restaurants, entertainment, and other things that are important to you.
Answer the following questions to help narrow your home search:
- What style of home do you prefer
- two story, ranch, split-level, something else?ï¿½
- What size of home do you need -
number of bedrooms, baths?
- What are your priorities in home
features - garage, gourmet kitchen, main level master, etc.?
- Is it important to you to have
additional space that could be finished such as an attic or
- What outside natural features
are most significant to you - woods, hills, streams, lakes, others?
- How close to work, shopping,
schools or recreational facilities do want to be?ï¿½
- How long of a commute do you
3. Contact an Agent
- Representation by a Professional:
Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you,
the buyer, not the seller. There are significant advantages to being
represented by a well-trained agent who acts on your behalf, and it
usually doesn't cost you a dime!
- Representation by aï¿½Buyer's
Agent assures that your very best interests will be handled
in a professional manner.
4. Find Your Dream
- Focus & Organization:
In a convenient location, keep handy the
items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such
items may include:ï¿½
- One or more detailed maps with
your areas of interest highlighted.
- A file of the properties that
your agent has shown to you, along with ads you've cut out from the
- Paper and pen, for taking notes
as you search.
- Instant or video camera to help
refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you're
attending a series of showings.
- Location: Look at a
potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer
find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to
positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned
properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area?
- Visualize the house empty & with your decor:
Are the rooms laid out to fit your
needs? Is there enough light?
- Be Objective:
Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with
- Does this home really meet your
- There are many houses on the
market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
- Be Thorough: A few
extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run.
Don't forget such essentials as:ï¿½
- Include inspection & mortgage
contingencies in your written offer.
- Have the property inspected by a
- Request a second walk-through to
take place within 24 hours of closing. You want to check to see that
no changes have been made that weren't agreed on. For example, a
nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been
replaced by a cheap ceiling light.
All of the above may seem rather
overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep
track of all the details for you is highly recommended.