Our Real Estate Blog
Want to buy a house for the first time? Create a budget, and you can move one step closer to transforming your homebuying dream into a reality.
Now, let's take a look at three budgeting tips that every first-time homebuyer needs to know.
1. Don't Wait to Start Saving for a Down Payment
In most instances, a down payment on a home ranges from 5 percent to 20 percent. With a large down payment, you may be able to reduce your monthly mortgage expenses.
A lender may be more willing to provide you with a favorable mortgage if you can afford an above-average down payment. This means if you have plenty of money for a down payment, you could save money over the life of your mortgage.
2. Take a Look at Your Outstanding Debt
Student loan charges, credit card bills and other outstanding debt may make it tough for you to get the financing that you need to buy a house. Fortunately, if you pay down your outstanding debt as much as possible, you can boost your chances of buying your dream house.
Evaluate your current spending and make cuts if possible. For example, if you dine out several times a week, it may be more cost-effective to buy groceries and cook your own meals. Then, you'll have extra money that you can use to pay off outstanding debt and save for a house.
3. Understand Your Credit Score
Do you know your credit score? If not, you may be missing out on opportunities to eliminate outstanding debt and increase your home savings.
You are eligible for a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Take advantage of this perk, and you can receive insights into your credit score.
If you obtain your free credit reports and find outstanding debt, you should try to pay off this debt sooner rather than later. Because the longer that you wait to pay off outstanding debt, the longer it may take you to acquire your ideal residence.
Furthermore, if you discover errors on a credit report, contact the reporting bureau immediately. This will enable you to fix any report errors before you get a mortgage.
If you need additional assistance as you map out a homebuying budget, it often pays to collaborate with a bank or credit union. In addition to providing you with multiple mortgage options, a lender will offer expert recommendations to help you budget for your first home purchase.
Lastly, don't hesitate to reach out to a real estate agent as well. This housing market professional is happy to help you get in touch with the best lenders in your area. And when you're ready to kick off your inaugural homebuying journey, a real estate agent can provide you with the support you need, precisely when you need it.
Use the aforementioned tips, and you can establish an effective homebuying budget.
A home showing may prove to be a life-changing event, and for good reason. If a homebuyer attends a showing and likes what he or she sees, it may be only a matter of time before this individual submits an offer to acquire a residence. As such, it is important to prepare for a home showing to ensure a buyer can fully evaluate a house and determine whether it is the ideal choice.
Ultimately, there are many reasons why homebuyers should put together a list of questions prior to a home showing, and these reasons include:
1. You can attend a home showing with a strategy in place.
A home listing usually includes information about a house's age and condition. However, few homebuyers are willing to submit an offer on a house based on a listing alone. But if you use a home listing to prepare questions before a showing, you can attend a showing with a plan in place to pursue your dream residence.
Oftentimes, it helps to prepare a list of general questions about a home. You then can review this list in conjunction with a home listing and determine which questions are answered in the listing itself. If you find assorted questions are still unanswered in the listing, you should not hesitate to find answers to these questions when you attend a showing.
2. You can gain deep insights into a house's condition.
Preparing a list of questions prior to a home showing may enable you to gain the insights that you need to make the best-possible decision about a house. And in most instances, you can never prepare too many questions to ensure that you can make an informed decision about a house.
Remember, buying a house is a major decision. If you put together a list of questions before a home showing, you can help take the guesswork out of deciding whether to submit an offer on a home.
3. You may be able to speed up the homebuying process.
The homebuying cycle may prove to be long and complicated, particularly for a homebuyer who is uncertain about how to proceed. With a list of questions in hand, you can attend a home showing and gain expert insights right away. Meanwhile, these insights can help you decide whether a house is right for you.
As you get ready for a home showing, you may want to consult with a real estate agent as well. A real estate agent is happy to help you craft a list of questions prior to a home showing. Also, this housing market professional can keep you up to date about houses that match your homebuying criteria, help you submit offers on homes and much more.
When it comes to home showings, it helps to plan ahead as much as possible. If you prepare a list of questions prior to your next showing, you should have no trouble evaluating a house.
The prospect of buying your first home is both exciting and nerve-wracking. On one hand, owning your own house is the final step of financial independence. You’re no longer accountable to a landlord and their rental agreement. On the other hand, buying a home is a huge financial decision that will determine where you live for the next several years.
As a first-time buyer, there’s a lot to learn about buying a house. You’ll often hear homeowners say, “I wish I knew that before buying this house.” So, in this article, we’re going to give you some common mistakes that first-time buyers make so you can have the best possible experience in the home buying process.
1. Underestimating the costs
When first-time buyers get preapproved for a mortgage, they sometimes see this as permission to spend whatever amount they’re approved for. However, even after closing costs, there are a number of other expenses you’ll need to account for in your budget.
You’ll be responsible for maintenance, utilities, taxes, and repairing things when they get old. If all of your money is tied up just paying your mortgage and other bills, you won’t have anything left over to maintain your house.
Furthermore, living your life just to make your mortgage payments is draining. Instead, buy a house that gives you enough room to save for retirement, vacations, a family, or whatever else you see in your future.
2. Prequalify first
Before you start shopping for homes, make sure you meet some basic prerequisites. You’ll need a solid credit score, steady income history, and money saved for a down payment. You might set yourself up for disappointment looking at homes that are outside of your spending limit if you don’t get prequalified first.
3. This probably isn’t your last home
While it’s okay to dream about the future, don’t set unrealistic expectations for your first home. You can always upgrade later on, and building equity in your first home is a good way to help you do that.
4. Don’t get too attached to your “dream home”
So, you’ve been shopping around for a few weeks and finally found the perfect house. If everything goes well your offer could get accepted. But if it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. There are constantly new houses appearing on the market, and there’s a good chance you’ll like one even more than this one.
5. Don’t waive contingencies without good reason
Contingencies are there to protect you. They might seem like a way to needlessly complicate a contract. Or, you might think that waiving them makes you look better in the eyes of the seller. However, both sellers and their agents know that contingencies serve an important purpose.
The three main contingencies you’ll want when buying a home are an appraisal contingency, financing contingency, and an inspection contingency. Unless you’re buying under special circumstances, you’ll want to keep all three in your contract.
A home inspection represents a key stage during the homebuying journey. This inspection enables you to examine a house with a professional property inspector. And if you discover minor or major property issues, you can ask a seller to perform repairs. Or, you may choose to reduce your initial home offer or rescind your proposal.
Ultimately, it pays to be diligent during a home inspection. If you perform an in-depth assessment of a house, you can understand whether this residence is the right choice.
On the other hand, there may be property problems that you identify during a home inspection that you won't ask a seller to repair. These issues may include:
1. Cosmetic Problems
If you ask a home seller to perform cosmetic repairs, the seller may choose to walk away from your homebuying proposal. And if this happens, you could lose your dream house to a rival homebuyer.
There is no need to jeopardize a home sale due to a cracked floor tile, a deck that needs to be stained or other cosmetic problems. Instead, plan to perform cosmetic repairs on your own.
In addition, keep in mind that many cosmetic issues are quick and easy to fix and won't require you to break your budget. This means you likely will have no trouble completing myriad cosmetic repairs after you close on a home.
2. Loose Fixtures
A loose doorknob or light fixture can be frustrating. And as you walk through a house during an inspection, you may feel like repairing a loose fixture is a top priority.
Loose fixtures generally require simple hand tools to repair, and problems with these fixtures frequently can be solved in just minutes. As such, you may want to focus your attention on bigger and potentially more expensive home repairs as you determine which property repair requests to submit to a seller.
Of course, if a loose fixture creates a safety hazard, you should not hesitate to ask the seller to fix this problem. Because if a hazardous fixture remains in place, it may put your health and safety at risk.
3.Non-Functional Light Switch
A non-functional light switch may raise red flags as you inspect a house. But in many instances, this problem is minor.
If you notice a non-functional light switch during a home inspection, there usually is no need to worry. In fact, a property inspector typically can tell you whether a home's electrical system is safe to use and up to code.
For homebuyers who are uncertain about how to proceed with a residence following an inspection, it pays to consult with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer expert tips to help you make informed decisions at each stage of the homebuying journey.
Consider your potential property repair requests following a home inspection. By doing so, you can prioritize major property repairs and increase the likelihood that you and the seller can find common ground as you work toward finalizing a purchase agreement.
House hunting can be time-consuming. With so many houses currently on the market and so little time to spend visiting homes, it’s important to narrow down your search as much as possible before attending a showing.
Fortunately, in today’s digital world, it’s possible to learn a great deal of important information right from your phone or computer.
In today’s post, I’m going to give you some advice on researching the homes you’re thinking about making an offer on. We’ll talk about researching the neighborhood, and--of course--the house itself.
Putting together all the stats on the home
Let’s start with, arguably, the most important thing to research: the house itself. When you want to learn about a home, the best place to look is usually the real estate listing. Since most of us discover homes through listings, odds are you’re already on this page. However, there’s a lot of information in a listing, so take the time to go through it and gleam whatever you can from the home’s description.
Next, Google the house address and click on listings from other real estate sites. Oftentimes, a house that has been sold before will have multiple listings across the internet with different data.
Once you’ve scoured the listings, head over to the county assessor’s website to look at records of the home’s ownership. This will tell you who bought and sold the home and when. There’s much you can learn from this data, especially if a home is being sold frequently. You can also use this information to contact previous owners to ask them questions about the home that the current owner might not know the answer to.
Snooping around the neighborhood
If the house is nearby, simply driving through the neighborhood can tell you a lot. You can visit the neighborhood during rush hour to see what the traffic is like, for example.
However, it isn’t always practical to take the time to visit a house that you aren’t sure you’re interested in. So, what’s the next best thing? Google Maps.
Visit the neighborhood on Google Maps to see what’s in the area. Are there a lot of closed businesses? That could be a sign of a neighborhood in decline. Check for nearby things like parks, grocery stores, and other amenities that could influence your buying decision.
Next, use Google’s “street view” feature and explore the neighborhood. You can see what kind of shape the other homes are in, and find out the condition of infrastructure like roads and sidewalks.
Note addresses of comparable homes in the neighborhood and look up their purchase prices. This will give you an idea of whether the home is being priced appropriately.
If you’re having trouble finding information on a home, such as sale records, try contacting the local assessor. They should be able to point you to a database that will help you in your search.