march 2, 2018
FIRST STEPS FOR FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS
I was once a first-time home buyer. And I was the one figuring out a budget and searching for a house, unsure of what I wanted. Luckily for me, my father-in-law was a real estate agent. And he helped me walk through all the steps, right down to the decision to buy an old, victorian home in Honey Brook. See, I knew I wanted to live in Honey Brook, but that’s about it. I had looked at old ranchers and ugly two-unit apartment buildings. But one day, we stepped inside a foreclosed, victorian home and I knew this was the one. My father-in-law said, “This is what you want.” And boy, was he right. I don’t know if I would have ever gotten into real estate or renovations without buying this house.
Buying your first home is not an easy process. However, there are several things you can do to make the process as smooth and focused as possible. There are also several things you should not do. I’ve learned through trial and error- so you may as well hear before you make the same mistake.
My mistake- when I bought my first house, that old Victorian on main street, I didn’t realize how much money it would take upfront. My lender would have let me buy a more expensive house- but getting started with a home is more expensive than you think. Houses are an expensive investment that needs to be made wisely. If I could go give myself some advice, I’d tell myself that it takes more money upfront than what it may seem.
As I said, there are also several things you can do to ensure a good experience the first time you buy a home.
First, Trust your agent. For me, that was easy, seeing he was my father-in-law and one of the best realtors around. He was an expert in the market and apparently, an expert in knowing what I needed.
Second, Be patient. Take the time to figure out exactly what you want. Then take the time to explain that to your agent so he/she knows what you’re looking for. Being able to define your needs/wants will go a long way in lessening the amount of time spent in home searching.
Third, have fun with it. Treat this process like a great adventure, because it is. This is your own quest for your own space- a place that you will spend a lot of time and make a lot of memories in.
Fourth, visit a lot of homes. I strive to not just be an expert in the market myself but to train my clients to be experts themselves. Educate yourself through this wonderful tool we have called the internet, find a knowledgeable agent, ask questions and look at multiple properties.
“Treat this process like a great adventure- because it is.”
So, what about the nuts and bolts of actually buying a home? We have a seven step outline for you to check out that describes what each step is in the home buying process. We’ll hit the first three here, and then let you take a look at how the rest of the process develops.
The first step is to be approved by a mortgage lender. This will be based on your debt to income ratio. I advise clients to pay off those credit cards and get as much cash on hand as possible. Your mortgage lender will be looking at those things. Be prepared and ready before meeting with a mortgage lender.
The second step is to choose a good real estate agent. This agent doesn’t just need great credentials, they need to be someone who “gets” you. One thing that my father-in-law has exemplified is the importance of honesty as a real estate agent. If an agent encourages you to bend the rules, find someone else. These same agents will bend the rules on you, before you know it. Finding a home is not a brief or easy process- so find someone who’ll walk through it with you the whole way.
The third step is nailing down what you need in a home. This is often hard to do when you are purchasing your first home. One of the best ways to do this is to tour multiple homes. Compare the layouts, main features, curb appeal and defining characteristics. What catches your eye? What do you dislike? Be specific with what stands out to you and what turns you off. You can also discuss this with your real estate agent. Remember that these agents have seen hundreds of homes in your neighborhood. They know the ins and outs of good spaces. They know the cost to benefit of different features. For example, kitchens make a home, but you will pay a lot more for a really nice kitchen. Take loads of notes and intentionally observe the houses around you. There’s no cut and dry way to get past this step. Sometimes it’ll take weeks to nail it down. Other times, you will know as soon as you step inside a house that it is the right one for you.
To view the rest of the steps in this process, head over here.
The Chris & Claude Co. is excited to help you find home- through whatever step of the process. So, whether you choose to go further with us or not, we wish you the best in your home buying process.
Instead of cringing at the thought of buying a home, may you be encouraged. This is an adventure that’s just waiting to happen.