Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life. It’s a life-changing experience that requires thorough research and thoughtful consideration. Here are 5 things you should know before taking the big leap and buying your first home.
1. Choose a real estate professional you can trust.
It’s essential that you hire a real estate professional who will guide and educate you through the home buying process. Meet with several real estate agents in your area and ask them about their licensing credentials and how many homes they’ve helped people buy or sell in the past year. Test their real estate knowledge. How much do they know about the local real estate market? What’s their specialty? Once you’ve thoroughly talked with different agents, choose the professional whose experience, knowledge, and personality you trust.
2. Determine how long you plan on living there.
When searching for a home, it’s helpful to consider how long you plan on living in the area. If you plan on starting a family, consider the nearby schools. What family amenities are accessible in your community? Is the neighborhood safe? Consider your personal interests (e.g. where is the closest bike path? Is there a library nearby?), proximity to your place of employment, and the local community. When you buy a home, you’re not only investing in a property, but you’re also investing years of your life.
3. Find a home you know you can afford.
Before you begin your home search, determine your budget. Don’t settle on a budget based on the maximum amount you can borrow, but rather what you can currently afford to repay. You might be able to swing it now, but your expenses of living or starting a family could increase in the coming years. It’s typically preferable to live a life you can comfortably afford than be scrambling to pay your travel expenses and credit card bills.
4. Consider the added costs of the home.
Paying the listing price is one thing, but any renovation or fixer-upper costs is another. Before you buy your first home, consider the added costs of repairs (e.g. chipped paint, scratched floors, water stains) or areas that need to be renovated. Has the backyard been maintained? What’s the condition of the driveway? Are there any leaks or cracks in the foundation? If there are areas of the home that need improvement, be sure to talk with your Realtor about negotiating the price based on added costs as a new homeowner.
5. Never settle!
The purpose of working with a Realtor is being able to look at and consider many different homes. You may love the first home you see, but there might be another that you’ll love even more. When it comes time to make an offer, be sure to be clear with your agent and communicate exactly what you want when negotiating. You might feel like you want to sign away, but never settle or yes your agent to death.