Every first-time home buyer has different needs, goals, and preferences, which is why it’s common to tweak the buying process based on such factors. There are, however, a couple of “non-negotiables,” some of which are still applicable even to the most experienced of home buyers.
I call these the home buying essentials for first-timers.
- Do your research.
Our first non-negotiable is adequate research.
Shopping for a home without an idea of how much you can afford, the location you desire, and the type of home that best fits your lifestyle is a big no-no. Going into the search blindly can eat up a lot of time. You might not even find a home at all.
Research does take some time, but it is worth it. In that period, you not only answer what, where, and how much of buying a home. Additionally, you get to realize your short- and long-term goals, two factors which can ultimately help you decide which property to buy.
- Get mortgage pre-approval.
Obtaining pre-approval from your chosen lender is one of the steps you’ll see often in home buying guides. Why? It’s an incredibly important part of the buying process.
Getting it isn’t a walk in the park either. While mortgage pre-approval doesn’t guarantee you a loan, lenders will take a hard look at your financial standing, history, and capability. It’s one of the reasons why sellers tend to take buyers with pre-approval letters more seriously? it implies you’re fit to take out a loan, enabling you to buy a home.
- Find a local realtor.
Buying a home by yourself is totally possible, but as a first-time buyer, it is highly recommended that you seek the help and opinion of a seasoned professional.
Your real estate agent is the person you sit down with to share all of your plans and real estate goals. All of the things you’ve researched early in the buying process, your realtor should know. And with this information, he or she will be able to find the most suitable candidates in communities you’re interested in.
- Get a home inspection.
All reputable realtors want to make sure you get your money’s worth, which is why we always advise our clients to get a home inspection.
It saves you from a variety of potential negative outcomes. It can range from issues that are easily repaired (like leaky pipes) to title disputes (which can be challenging and stressful to settle.)
Sellers are usually obligated to provide general disclosures about the properties they are selling, so if the inspector finds anything, you can use this to your advantage and negotiate for a better deal. Meanwhile, if the issues are too complicated or irreparable, you can make the informed decision to purchase a different home.
Hiring a professional inspector can be expensive, but this is one investment that can save you a lot money in the future.
- Prepare cash to cover closing and other associated costs.
The sum you pay for the home you’re buying isn’t the only expense you will shoulder. You need to have enough funds to cover closing costs and other associated expenditures. This includes moving costs, home inspection costs, and attorney fees (should you hire one for closing.)
To prepare accordingly, ask your realtor about these expected costs.