If you’re reading this you may be a first-time buyer, and you probably have scoured the internet for information about what to expect. The majority of my business in the last two years have been first time home buyers, and I’ve come to understand some of the major problems they face, what their concerns are and how to resolve them. That is why I put together this “tip guide” to assist before you start your search.
Establish a Comfortable Budget
This is always priority # 1, before you fall in love with a home that exceeds your comfort level, make sure you have the “money talk”. It’s important to understand the intricacies of home ownership and what you can afford. Things like home repairs and utility bills should play a factor in this decision as well. I’ve also included a detailed article called 4 reasons you should buy a house (and 4 reasons you should not) You might find this useful when making a decision.
This step should ALWAYS be high up on the list, when you Speak with a reputable mortgage loan officer it will clear up many questions you have, and answer some you may not have thought of. When making the decision about which lender you are going with, make sure you do your research. You can use a referral from a friend or family or look at reviews online.
Know What Is Available to You
Customer service seems to be a lost art when it comes to the mortgage industry. Not to say it’s gone, but I’ve seen many lenders provide a single option to their clients, avoiding other loans because they are not as easy on the loan officer. That shouldn’t be the case at all, knowing what loan options are available to you is a huge advantage when it comes to you long term plan. Make sure you are working with a reputable loan officer when going over this.
Find a Real Estate Agent You Trust and Like
This one is just as important as meeting with a loan officer. You can click “find a good real estate agent“ to get in touch with a local professional that has the tools necessary to meet your needs. You are going to be making a large, emotional purchase with this person and it’s important you trust them and get along with them on a personal level.
Don’t Believe What You See Online
Pictures can be worth 1,000 words, but you never know what words those are until you see it in person. Try not to get head over heels about a house you only see online. Seeing something in person can really change your perspective on a property. It goes both ways too, if you see a home with sub-par pictures, but the location and style (and price) are in your realm, maybe it’s worth checking it out. Sometimes a property didn’t photograph well but has the charm and charisma you want.
Avoid Foreclosures and Short Sales
I see a lot of first-time buyers looking at foreclosures and short sale homes. These are not bad investments, but keep in mind they are “AS IS”. This means when you purchase one, the seller (lender / bank) will not be willing to fix or repair anything. This can be especially difficult during the winter months when these homes have been winterized. Some types of mortgages, like FHA loans, require that all utilities be on. That can be difficult when the home is vacant, and the seller is reluctant to spend the money to turn on electricity. The typical rule with foreclosures is to avoid them unless you have the money to fix them (if needed).
Look at an Appropriate Number of Homes (Before You Buy)
Whether it’s buying a car or a house, you should rarely buy the first one you see. Do your homework on your needs and wants. (know the difference) To be a smart buyer it takes experience and patience, two things that can only come from taking your time and making the right decision. Your real estate agent will help you significantly with this, but sometimes you do not know what you want in a home until you see it. That is why in person visits are priceless and necessary. Factors like price, Monthly payment and a good Real Estate Search Engine are valuable tools.
Don’t Lock Yourself into One Place
There are certain zip codes and areas that are “hot”, and everyone wants to be there. These areas are usually the most difficult to find a home, and also the most expensive. If your budget is limited and your needs are extensive, it may be smart to expand your search outside of the zip code you originally desired. Often times you can make sacrifices on location with things like open enrollment for your children, or a different route to work (that may take 10 extra minutes). If you expand this search a little further, you are likely to find a well-priced home that fits your needs. When buying our first home we did this, originally wanting to be in a certain school district we found a home on the outskirts of the area we wanted. The difference in price for the home was over $50,000 and the home we bought has much more room. It catered to everyone one of our needs EXCEPT school district, so we made a sacrifice and take the time to drive our children to school every day.
I hope this article has been helpful, there are some other resources I’ve written to assist. Including the First time home buyer survival guide. It has some valuable time lines and a downloadable template you can put in your home buying folder to use.
As always if you have questions you can Email me or contact me using the information below. Have a good new year!
- C) 920-530-4484
- O) 920-490-8823
- F) 920-490-8967
909 . E Walnut Street
Green Bay WI 54301