Buying your first home is a huge step in life. It is one of the biggest investments you will ever make, so it's important to be fully educated on all aspects of buying real estate before you sign on the dotted line.
1. Do your research on the neighborhood you want to live in
To make the home-buying process easier and less overwhelming, be sure to do your research and learn about neighborhoods and home prices in the area. Read online reviews and talk to your realtor for insights on what homebuyers in your desired price range think about living in that neighborhood. If there are any questions you have about the neighborhood, always speak up and ask questions. Talk to people that live there on a platform like Nextdoor, check the walkability score on a site like Walk Score, walk the neighborhood yourself, check local crime rates on City Protect, and most importantly - give your commute a test run!
2. Get pre-approved from a bank or home financing agency
The first step to home ownership is to get pre-approved for a mortgage from a home financing institution. The home financing institution will look at your credit rating and how much you have saved for a downpayment and estimate how much of a mortgage you will be eligible for. A home financing agency can also help you find the best type of loan whether it's a fixed or adjustable rate mortgage, a 15 or 30 year mortgage, or any other type of home loan which may not be available from banks. You can check out platforms like Credit Karma for help doing this.
3. Find a realtor that specializes in your desired location and price range
Finding a home is all about finding the right home for your needs. After you have identified the features of home you want, find a realtor who specializes in those features. Whether it be home size, home price, home builder, or any other feature that you are looking for in a home.
4. Be prepared to offer full asking price
When home hunting, be prepared to offer full asking price for any homes you're interested in. It may sound like a lot of money, but homes in these times are not staying on the market for very long, and this means that inventory is currently lower than we have seen in years as demand dips but prices remain constant. If you want the home, put in the offer because it likely will not be there the same time next week.
5. Ask questions about the neighborhood
Are people in this neighborhood helpful, kind, and always willing to lend you a helping hand. Are there grocery stores within walking distance of the home which boasts fresh produce on-site every day. Is there a city bus route. Are there public transportation options nearby. How good is the school system, etc. You want to be knowledge about about what you're about to move into - if your offer is accepted.
6. Hire a home inspector who is thorough and has a history of positive reviews
Hire a home inspection team that is thorough and has a history of providing homebuyers with positive experiences. The biggest hassle for a homeowner to take on is purchasing a home without knowing the ins and outs of what may be wrong with it. A thorough home inspector will be able to give you their best assessment of the home. Things happen, but going in with a solid understanding of the status of the home will ease both your mindset and your wallet. A good home inspection will include notes on any detectable issues with the home, which can save you thousands of dollars in repairs later on down the line.
Bonus: Know what you can afford upfront before jumping into anything
It may be tempting to jump right into home ownership, but it's important to know what you can afford upfront before making any big decisions. As home prices are not decreasing, it's best to take your time when home shopping and make sure that home is perfect for you AND your budget.
Use a tool like Nerdwallet's "How much house can I afford?" tool to help figure this out quickly and thoroughly.
I hope these tips will help those of you out there who are first-time homebuyers! Home buying can seem overwhelming, but as long as you do your research, get pre-approved, find a great realtor, get it properly inspected, and ask all your questions--it's an enjoyable process!