Buying your first home is undeniably thrilling. You probably can’t wait to get your own space that you can decorate, paint, and renovate however you please. But before you make that big step, there are a few things you need to know as a first time home buyer. Make sure to use this advice to get the best fit for your family when you’re looking at houses.
Choose Your Location
Photo via Flickr by douggarner08
Before you decide to buy a home, make sure you find a place where you’d like to live for at least five years or longer so that you can get as much as possible out of your investment. Look at your chosen area’s schools, local resources, climate, and proximity to the other things you enjoy to help you make a decision about where to live. Choosing a spot can also affect how long your search may take. New homes for sale in Phoenix, Arizona, and other popular cities often sell quickly, so you’ll want to be ready to buy when you start looking.
Check Your Credit Score
Don’t start setting up appointments or going out to look at open houses just yet. Before you start your search for your first home, it’s critical that you take a good, hard look at your credit score. A high credit score will help you secure great rates and conditions on a home loan. If you look at your scores and both you and your spouse are at 700 or above, you have an excellent score and can move ahead with your home search.
But what if your score isn’t so great? Even a moderate drop down from 700 to scores of 660 or 640 will significantly affect the quality of the deal you’re getting on your home loan. Bring that credit score up by getting rid of outstanding debt, paying your bills on time, and working with creditors to get certain collections off your report.
Hire a Real Estate Agent
In the age of DIY, many first-time home buyers believe that they can go about finding and securing a place all on their own. The truth, however, is that a real estate agent is incredibly important for your first home purchase. Here’s how real estate agents can help you get the right home for your needs:
- They have access to more listings, which increases the chances of your finding a home that fits your criteria and budget.
- They have local expertise, which helps if you don’t know the city or the neighborhood.
- They’ll help negotiate to get you the best deal possible.
- They’ll go through the contracts with you to make sure that you’re protected.
Account for extra costs as a first time home buyer
Your lender might say that you have enough money for a $200,000 home, and the monthly mortgage rate at that price might fit into your budget. However, have you also accounted for property taxes, home repairs, mortgage insurance, and homeowner’s insurance? Once you add all that to the mix, that initial mortgage rate might not sound so affordable, so consider looking at homes well below the price suggested by your lender.
Besides these ongoing costs, you should also consider the up-front costs of a home purchase. Besides your down payment, you’ll also need enough to cover a home inspection, closing costs, and movers.
Once you’ve gone through these steps, it’s time to start your search. Happy house hunting!