Buying your first home is a huge milestone, and it requires preparation and planning. But that doesn't mean it needs to be stressy!
Here are some of our best suggestions for first-time buyers:
This is the least exciting part, and it's easy to jump ahead into searching for and dreaming about your home before you're ready to make an offer. Understanding your finances will help you to make better financial decisions in the future—you'll feel empowered and know why you should say no when the Ulta cashier offers you 20% off to apply for a store card at checkout.
To qualify for your home mortgage, lending institutions want to see a low-risk customer. Focus on paying down debt, making your payments on time, and avoiding opening new lines of credit in the months leading up to when you apply for mortgage financing. Having a variety of account styles will help improve your score, but don't open new credit cards before you plan to apply for a mortgage, as the length of your existing credit history helps boost your score.
Use free tools like Credit Karma and AnnualCreditReport.com to monitor accounts, scores, and payment history.. Some suggest strategies to pay down your debt more effectively. Apps like TrueBill can help you track your budget, trim expenses, and prioritize savings.
Take A Hard Look
talk to a mortgage broker
even if you've owned your home before, You may be considered a 'first-time' buyer again if you haven't owned your home in the last three years — be sure to ask!
Not only can a mortgage broker help get you pre-qualified and pre-approved, but they can also recommend opportunities to save money! There are many types of loans available when purchasing a home, including some that are specialized for first-time home buyers. These loans can include reduced down payment requirements or lower interest rates.
Ask about first-time homebuyer assistance programs—this can save you thousands of dollars by credit or voucher to provide help with your down payment.
Find the best fees and interest rates by shopping around! Each lending institution sets its own fees and interest rates also vary from bank to bank, which means that comparing several for both rates and fee structures can truly pay off in savings. Don't worry about your credit report getting 'dinged' as you do—multiple inquiries within a 45-day window are recorded together to minimize the impact to your credit score and report.
When you're ready, start with pre-qualification. This means you're a contender in getting approved for a mortgage. After you've shopped around for interest rates and fees to fit your budget, you can then apply for a pre-approval. This will result in a letter from your chosen financial institution, indicating they are willing to lend to you up to a certain amount.
Consider how this pre-approval budget will fit with your finances, as it can be higher than what you actually want to spend. This letter will be submitted with your offer, to show the seller that you have a strong likelihood of being approved for the purchase loan. It's time to start shopping!
Seeing past what is in front of you and envisioning what you could make it doesn't come naturally, even for experienced homeowners. There is something to be said for focusing on 'good bones.' Affordable, quick changes like carpet, wallpaper, paint, and hardware are often where homeowners make unique choices that can deter buyers at face value.
Our advice: Put on your best 'Joanna Gaines' face and look at the layout, location, systems, outdoor space, parking, and amenities. A home inspection and home warranty can help dissuade worries about costly repairs like the roof, systems, and foundation. The rest can be made your own with a little bit of elbow grease on the weekend!
There's nothing more satisfying than sipping a cool drink, while you're covered in paint splatter and proudly admiring your new living room color. Trust us, painting is like caring for a houseplant—seems daunting and might take a few tries (and fails), but once you figure it out, you just want more!
don't let shag carpet
Bring in the professionals
don't be afraid to walk away if you can't come to an agreement on costly repairs that are uncovered during an inspection. you'll be glad you waited for the right home when you do find it!
As a buyer, having a professional represent you is FREE, and is one of the smartest decisions you can make when buying a home. The rise of internet-based companies may lead to feeling like the importance of the personal connection and depth of trust you should feel with your Broker has diminished, but that's simply not the case. Your Broker will be working exclusively for your best interest; telling you if the home is properly priced, how the area is growing and developing, and what the market history and outlook are for an investment in that neighborhood. When you're ready to write an offer, it's crucial to have a strong contract that protects you well, and also is the most attractive to the seller.
Your Broker can make visual assessments of your home's condition and have a bevy of vendors to recommend, but nothing compares to a Home Inspector. Waiving an inspection may have been a tool in desperate times when inventory was trickling onto the market, but it leaves the buyer walking in blind. As a first-time buyer, you want to know if the home has any issues with structure/foundation, roofing, plumbing, electrical, and more—these potential repairs are about to become your headache! Take the mystery out of the equation and hire a reputable Home Inspector. You'll receive a detailed report of any issues uncovered and can return to the seller with any repair requests.
Here's where your Broker comes in clutch yet again! When you have a list of repairs needed, you can work with your Broker to prioritize and negotiate these repairs with the seller in order to continue the purchase. Knowing what's reasonable to ask for and how to ensure repairs are made in a timely fashion will keep you on track for a smooth closing while ensuring you don't lose any earnest monies you have put down.