Home Buying Tips

Being a first-time home buyer is exciting! But I know it can also feel overwhelming—especially when you see homes being purchased at a median of $450,000 and available homes flying off the market in just three weeks.

Buying tip #1: Get Pre-Approved for Your Home Loan

There’s a big difference between a buyer being pre-qualified and a buyer who has a pre-approved mortgage. Anybody can get pre-qualified for a loan. Getting pre-approved means a lender has looked at all of your financial information and they’ve let you know how much you can afford and how much they will lend you. Being pre-approved will save you a lot of time and energy so you are not running around looking at houses you can’t afford

Buying tip #2: Keep Your Money Where It Is

Do not make any huge purchases or move your money around three to six months before buying a new home. Lenders need to see that you’re reliable and they want a complete paper trail so that they can get you the best loan possible. If you open new credit cards, amass too much debt or buy a lot of big-ticket items, you’re going to have a hard time qualifying for a loan.

Buying tip # 3: Don’t Try to Time the Market

Don’t obsess with trying to time the market and figure out when is the best time to buy. Trying to anticipate the housing market is impossible. The best time to buy is when you find your perfect house and you can afford it. Real estate is cyclical, it goes up and it goes down and it goes back up again. So, if you try to wait for the perfect time, you’re probably going to miss out.

Buying tip # 4: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Everyone is drawn to the biggest, most beautiful house on the block. But bigger is usually not better when it comes to houses. The largest house only appeals to a very small audience and you never want to limit potential buyers when you go to re-sell. Your home is only going to go up in value as much as the other houses around you. If you pay $500,000 for a home and your neighbors pay $250,000 to $300,000, your appreciation is going to be limited. Sometimes it is best to is buy the worst house on the block, because the worst house per square foot always trades for more than the biggest house.

Buying tip #5: Be Aware of all your expenses

Most people just focus on their mortgage payment, but they also need to be aware of the other expenses such as supplemental taxes, utilities and homeowner-association dues. New homeowners also need to be prepared to pay for repairs, maintenance and potential property-tax increases. Make sure you budget for additional costs so you’ll be covered and won’t risk losing your house.

Buying tip #6: You’re Buying a House – Not Dating It

Buying a house based on emotions is just going to break your heart. If you fall in love with something, you might end up making some pretty bad financial decisions. There’s a big difference between your emotions and your instincts. Going with your instincts means that you recognize that you’re getting a great house for a good value. Going with your emotions is being obsessed with the paint color or the backyard. It’s an investment, so stay calm and be wise.

Buying tip #7: Give Your House a Physical

Would you buy a car without checking under the hood? Of course you wouldn’t. Get a home inspection. It’ll cost about $350 but could end up saving you thousands. A home inspector’s sole responsibility is to provide you with information so that you can make a decision as to whether or not to buy. It’s really the only way to get an unbiased third-party opinion. Seller’s generally aren’t required to make repairs if problems are discovered during a home inspection. But sometimes a seller will agree to repair or reduce the sales price rather than blow the deal when a buyer makes a request for repair. It’s better to spend the money up front on an inspector than to find out later you have to spend a fortune.

Buying tip #8: Stalk the Neighborhood

Before you buy, get the lay of the land – drop by morning noon and night. Many homebuyers have become completely distraught because they thought they found the perfect home, only to find out the neighborhood wasn’t for them. Drive by the house at all hours of the day to see what’s happening in the neighborhood. Do your regular commute from the house to make sure it is something you can deal with on a daily basis. Find out how far it is to the nearest grocery store and other services. Even if you don’t have kids, research the schools because it affects the value of your home in a very big way. If you buy a house in a good school district versus bad school district even in the same town, the value can be affected as much as 20 percent.

Buying tip #9: Hire an Agent

You don’t have to hire an agent if you prefer to go to open houses or look through homes online but doing so will save you time and probably a bit of uncertainty as well. An agent can send you listing directly from MLS that fit your parameters.  Agents often know of new listings before the hit the market.  Most agents will preview home for you to make sure they fit your needs. Most important, an agent can generally spot an overpriced listing and advise you according

Buying tip #10: Don’t makes any changes with your credit

Lenders pull credit reports at preapproval to make sure things check out and sometimes again just before closing.  They want to make sure nothing has changed in your financial picture. Any new loans or credit card accounts can jeopardize the closing and final loan approval. Buyers, especially first time buyers often learn this lesson the hard way. Keep the status quo in your finances from preapproval all the way to closing.  Don’t open new credit cards, close existing accounts, take out new loans or make any large purchases. It’s always best to keep your balances to 40% or below the credit limit, and pay on time and in full every month.

Ready to Get Started?

Your first home is a big purchase—maybe even the biggest one you’ll have ever made up to this point in your life! Because of that, you don’t want to risk messing this up. A real estate professional will take the weight off your shoulders by helping you to find a home, negotiate a deal, and see the process through until closing.

Get Pre-Approved Today!