Congratulations! You’ve decided it is time to buy your very first home! Soon you will have the key in hand, rooms ready to be made cozy, bones ready to settle in. But, you may discover you need to pay thousands for fixes you didn’t know about. You will run out of eggs one morning, and “oh no!” the closest grocery store is 7 miles away! And, your new friend living down the street somehow got a much better mortgage rate than you! What could I have done differently to avoid these hassles? What did I not know?
The first thing you need to know when buying a home is that an open mind and realistic expectations are going to make you the happiest. While many people do find a place that they love, no home is perfect. But going into the process well-informed will make it easier, not to mention more enjoyable. Here are some of the best tips for any first-time homebuyers looking to find an abode to adore!
- Be prepared to buy a home before you look for one. Does this mean no street shopping or Zillow browsing? When you genuinely want to find a home, there are so many avenues to consider, especially finance-wise. What is your income? Total debt? Unfortunately, those student loans and car payments won’t just disappear. Do you have a decent credit score that will get you the best mortgage rate? And, of course, the down payment… without a small (or large depending on what you can afford) stash of funds set aside, the chances of qualifying for loans are slim. If you have been working on this already, you’re heading in the right direction!
- Secure a pre-approval letter. Not only does this tell sellers that you are seriously searching for a home, but it also assures them that you can pay for one. You get an idea of the interest rate for which you qualify and a mortgage estimate which will detail the total costs. Better to jump in knowing what to expect!
- Make a list of your top priorities in a home. This one can be fun! Go to a café, talk about your wishlist, and decide what your ideal home would look like. What is essential here is to determine what is a necessity and what is not.
Pro Tip: consider the neighborhood as a high priority! Or at least make sure the grocery store is accessible, so you don’t have to run a marathon for your breakfast. The home itself is the main event, but the location can make or break both your happiness and the resale profits.
- Find a local realtor. Someone who knows the area you are looking to buy in like the back of their hand will be able to recommend everything from the best plumbing service to the restaurant you should go to celebrate! The best realtors will guide you step by step to assure you don’t miss a thing and will advise you honestly and sincerely.
- Look at all of your mortgage options. You have the right to shop for a mortgage loan consultant and a mortgage program. Never settle for the first offer you receive if you are not 100% confident about everything. You should review the costs, terms, and consider your relationship with the loan officer. If you have a good relationship with your loan officer, you have a much better chance of having a smooth transaction!
Pro Tip: Be wary of having your credit report pulled too many times; this could hurt your credit score and is unnecessary to do with every mortgage professional you meet.
With the right knowledge and people behind you, running out of eggs in the morning will never leave you walking seven miles you didn’t know it took to get to the nearest store. Go into the buying process excited and prepared to come out with a (nearly) perfect home!
This article was written for MEP by our guest blogger Susan Register. Susan is student at St. Lawrence University majoring in Liberal Arts and Global Studies.