Ahh your first home… Such an exciting time! We’re here to help you answer questions about buying your first home. With that in mind, if you have not read part 1 of First Time Home Buyers Guide, we recommend you start there then continue on! Thanks for reading and happy home hunting.
What to keep in mind when you’re on the hunt for your first home.
1.Money – at this point, you should have been pre-approved by your lender (if not, click here). Make sure you have an understanding of the costs associated with buying a home. Keep in mind that, as a first time buyer, your budget will probably dictate many of the decisions you make, and that’s okay. Your home doesn’t need to be perfect, and HGTV is not the norm. This is most likely not your forever home. Most people will move 3-4 times in their adult life – and sweat-equity is a very real thing. If you continue to make improvements to your home, you can reap the benefits of that when it comes time to sell.
– Get pre-approved by your lender
– Determine sustainable monthly payments
– Sweat Equity: Most people move several times in their adult life, what can you do to build value before you sell?
2. Location – Where do you normally go? Work, school, recreation, shopping, etc. Like I said, your budget may limit the areas you are able to afford, but be mindful of your normal routine. How far are you willing to commute? Consider seasonal weather conditions and potential traffic. Don’t be afraid to drive around town, just to get the lay of the land. Once you feel you’ve found the right area for you, drive or walk through the neighborhood at different times of the day. This allows you to see what’s really going on so you can make a more informed decision.
– Proximity to lifestyle
– Commute times
– Future developments (if any)
3. Needs vs Wants – it may not be the sexiest part of the home buying process, but be sure to write down your needs and wants. For the first-timer, those lists have a tendency to bleed together, but make sure you focus first on the needs. If price range is a need, can you compromise on the size of the home? If you’re firm on the number of bedrooms, can you give a little on the location? The best thing to do is draw a clear line between your needs and wants and find the homes that meet all of your needs. Then, from that list, find the homes that include at least some of your wants, and begin narrowing things down from there.
– Stay within your budget
– Room to grow
– Focus first on your needs, then add wants as your budget allows
4. The Future – none of us have a crystal ball, but here are a few questions worth considering that may really pay off in the future. How will my life change in the next few years and, based on those changes, will this house still work for me? When it comes to resale, is this home near something that could be a turnoff to future buyers (i.e. a busy road, future development, etc.)? Is this the nicest home in a so-so neighborhood? Are there cosmetic changes I could do to help improve the value over time? Take at least a few minutes to step back and take inventory of what the future will hold for you, the neighborhood, and the home, so you can make the best decision possible.
– Where do you want to be in 5 years?
– Resale, is it in a desirable location?
– Potential equity opportunity
The process of looking for a home can make even the most experienced buyers’ head spin. Just try to keep these important factors in mind and enjoy the ride – You are only a first-time buyer once!