10 Easy Tips for First-Time Home Buyers
By Burt Carey
Buying a house for the first time is an exhilarating experience, and knowing which potential pitfalls to avoid will ensure that your elation continues for many years. Here are some tips to help make that happen.
- Get your finances in order now!
A clean credit report and saving for a big down payment are the two biggest keys to getting the best mortgage terms possible with the least number of extra fees. If you don’t know what your credit score is, you’re already slipping toward an abyss. Order a free copy of your credit report from the site www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Understand the housing market
Wanting to buy a home and actually doing it are wholly different things. In most of the U.S today, there’s a shortage of houses for sale, and what is for sale is rising in price. You will be competing for purchases with people who have home-buying experience. Check with a reputable realtor to figure out a strategy that benefits you.
- Get your financing pre-approved
Having your credit checked and a good FICO score is a great start. Now your best move is to use those assets and your income to get pre-approved by a mortgage lender. There are lots of mortgage options to choose from. As new home buyers, shopping around and finding the best deal for you will pay huge dividends before you sign a contract. Sellers like to know potential buyers are pre-approved, too.
- Make a list, check it twice
Get with friends, co-workers and family members to find out the good, the bad and the ugly about their home-buying experiences, and then make a checklist list of everything you want, things you should inspect or items you should ask about while searching for a house. Make it a printable checklist so you have one for each house you see. Buying a house can be an emotional experience. The list keeps you grounded.
- Think about the long term
If you’re planning to have a family, have relatives move in with you, or any other special arrangements, the houses you look at need to meet all of those needs. Think of your needs five to 10 years from now.
- Is the house re-sellable?
That’s not a cheeky or flippant question. A house in a good school district will maintain or gain in value where one in a poor school district may not. You should also consider your community’s demographics and look at long-term trends. An urban area with young, upwardly mobile middle-class residents today may not look the same in a decade. You should definitely avoid buying in a neighborhood with a high number of rental properties.
- What’s your real household budget?
Your monthly household budget doesn’t stop at the mortgage payment. Add to that insurance, interest, taxes, maintenance, utilities and remodeling/upgrades. Even the cost of commuting to work can be a burden if you fail to plan for it now.
- See beyond a realtor’s fluff
Selling agents are marketing professionals who know how to set up a house for sale. But in their glitzy little staging schemes, you’ll find some peculiarities such as lamps positioned in places where there are no wall sockets. They put the fluff there to make it look appealing. It’s your job to ensure it’s functional, too.
- Check out homeowners associations
After you buy a house is not the time to discover you’ve moved into a neighborhood with restrictive covenants that prevent you from following your own plan. Homeowners associations have evolved well beyond being arbiters of mere architectural design elements. Get a copy of the HOA bylaws and covenants before making an offer on a house.
- Read your contract before signing it
There will be an attorney, possibly two, present at the closing meeting. You have hired these people to represent you. Real estate attorneys handle closings multiple times each week. You don’t. Read every document and make sure you understand all terms and conditions before you sign them. Don’t let an attorney or anyone else try to rush you through the process. If you read something you don’t understand, have them explain it to you.
Source: Baret News