Thinking About Buying Your First Home? Consider These 3 Things Before Taking the Leap
There are three essential steps to consider when buying your first home.
All of the steps are closely tied to one another and are essential, so remember that one without the other is likely to lead you down a disappointing path.
The first step is a bit like going in for your annual physical. You dread going, but in the end, it ends up not being so bad after all. Step #1 is about money, money, money. Without knowing your buying power, you really can’t begin the search so getting qualified for a mortgage is always where you should start. There is nothing more frustrating than falling in love with a home that is not within your reach.
Even though your head will understand the dollars and cents of affordability your heart will be stuck on something you can’t have (for a while) so you will always feel as though you settled. A second peril of not being pre-qualified is finding the perfect home and not being allowed to submit an offer because most sellers require that a pre-approval letter from a lender accompany the offer. There is just no getting around Step #1.
Determining Your Needs
The next critical step is defining your needs. I have worked with a lot of first home buyers that are enthralled with the idea of home ownership and are ready to start the search thinking that defining size and the number of bedrooms and baths is enough, it’s not. Here’s what I recommend, start by brainstorming what’s important to you in a home and make a comprehensive list.
Once your list is complete go back and identify each item as a “need” or “want”. Needs are non-negotiable item or must haves. The wants are items that you would like to have but that you could live without. The final step is to rank your wants from most important to least important because you’ll soon learn that there is no perfect home and you really can’t have it all.
Finding The Right Agent
The final consideration is finding the right agent. I’ve been in this business for 20+ years and the difference in agents’ experience, knowledge, & negotiating skills can be vast. The best way to find a qualified agent is to ask for referrals (the internet is not the place to find referrals). Ask your colleagues, family and friends for their recommendations. Check out the agents experience & it’s okay to be bold in doing so. Ask how many buyers they represented in the last 12 months. Ask for names and phone numbers of their recent clients and talk to their clients about their experience with the agent. Ask your agent how many buyer and sellers they have represented in the community where you would like to live. Agents are licensed by State and as such can work in vast areas.
You need an area expert. Your agent should know where the nearest schools, walking trails, restaurants and parks are to your future home. Your agent should know area demographics and be versed in changes coming to the area (road improvement, planned residential and commercial expansion). When you work with the right experienced agent, they can guide you to the right lenders, inspectors and a variety of tradesman who you’ll need during and after the transaction. The right agent is essential.
If you’re overwhelmed with getting started, go to #3 first and everything else will fall into place.
Happy house hunting! 🙂