If you’re buying a home for the first time, you may be understandably overwhelmed — or may easily get carried away by the excitement of it all. But whether you’re looking at downtown real estate, new construction in the suburbs, or historic real estate for sale, there are some important tips that all first-time buyers should know. Using these tips along with an experienced real estate agent will ensure that you make an informed decision on the home you end up purchasing.
- Calculate your budget (and stick to it)
First thing’s first. Before checking out listings for houses or condos for sale, you’ll need to determine what you can afford to pay for a home. Don’t forget to include the cost of insurance, taxes, and other applicable fees. Be sure to make it clear to your realtor that you cannot go above your limit and do not want to be shown any houses above your budget. Don’t risk falling in love with a house that’s not a financially sound option.
- Figure out what you’re looking for
Make a list of your must-haves. Although these may represent unrealistic expectations for many first-time buyers, write down your non-negotiables and consult with your realtor about what you’re looking for. He or she can give you an honest assessment about whether you can expect to find what’s on your list in your price range. Keep this list in mind (or bring it with you) when you look at properties. It can be easy to forget about some of your must-haves if you’re taken in by visually appealing staging or extra features. But having a pool in lieu of a second bathroom might not be the best decision in the end. This list can keep you from experiencing buyer’s remorse.
- Research the neighborhood
Before looking at real estate for sale, do your research on the area. Figure out what’s important for your needs. Do you want to stay in the same school district? Do you want to be closer to work? What kinds of grocery stores, shopping, or night life is in the area? Your realtor can probably give you a lot of information about a given area, but if you want to be in a certain neighborhood, that’s an important place to start.
- Get finances in order
You’ll need to gather all financial documents like credit reports and identify any problem areas. If you see any issues, you should fix them before trying to buy a home. That way, you’ll have a much better chance of securing a loan, should you need it. Experts suggest that you should have 20% of the home’s purchase price saved for a down payment. Although it’s not always necessary, it’s definitely a good idea. Hold off on any other big purchases, as they will deplete your savings and can affect your credit.
- Don’t get too emotionally invested
Although it’s a difficult task when looking at real estate for sale, try to avoid getting emotionally attached to a home. For many people, it’s important to feel a connection to a property, but for many first-time home buyers, this can result in disappointment. If your offer is rejected or you find yourself in the middle of a bidding war, falling in love with a house you lose out on can be a trying experience. In addition, until you get a home inspection, keep your expectations in check. If an inspector finds a major issue with your home, you need to be detached enough to be able to walk away if the solution is too costly.
These tips can help inexperienced buyers navigate the process much more smoothly. If you’re a first-time home buyer, be sure to seek out help from a professional agent for additional expertise when looking at real estate for sale.