12 Things Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Know
Buying a home for the first time can be daunting. It’s most likely your biggest investment to date, so the pressure will be on and you’ll often feel like you’re trying to learn a new language. Here are a few key tips on how to make your first home purchase with confidence.
1. Be prepared to move quickly when you find “the one”
If you’re like most people, your first home will be in the lower price range. In competitive markets like Asheville, you’ll need to be ready to move quickly when a home comes on the market that ticks off enough of your boxes.
2. Do your research
Moving quickly can only happen if you’ve done a little legwork before you actually start scheduling showings. Get a feel for the market by asking your broker to discuss current trends and housing inventory. Go over your finances to get a clear understanding of what monthly expenses you can afford. Be sure your savings and credit score are in the right place for a home purchase.
3. Find a trusted partner
Find a real estate broker you like and trust. They should be willing to answer as many questions as you need to feel comfortable. They can help you understand terms, go over the contracts and paperwork in detail and help point you towards other trusted resources you’ll need along the way like a lender, home inspector, or closing attorney.
4. Work with lender as soon as possible
It’s never too early to speak with a lender. They will be happy to help you understand funds needed to close, down payment assistance programs, and the mortgage process. Getting prequalified for your financing is crucial, so be sure you know how much you can afford before you start looking.
5. Buyer representation is typically paid for by the seller in North Carolina
Your buyer’s agent is there to represent your best interests and guide you along the process. They are your advocate, your resource and your negotiator. The commission rates are pre-agreed upon for homes listed in the MLS, so you’re fees will be paid by the seller.
6. Communication is a two-way street
Be sure you’re honest with your real estate broker and yourself. Take a long, hard look at what’s most important to you in a home and share that with your broker. Be specific about what you’re looking for and why those features are important to you. Also, choose a realtor who listens to your needs. Do they ask questions? Do they take notes? A good fit is important.
7. Know your budget
Having a good handle on your finances will ensure you don’t commit to more money than you can truly afford. Your lender will be able to advise you on both funds needed to close and your total monthly payment. Also, be sure to consider any necessary repairs and moving expenses in your planned costs.
8. You don’t need a huge down payment to buy a home
While it’s always a good idea to save as much money as possible before you make a home purchase, you might be surprised at the plethora of programs available to help you make the leap. A good lender will suggest your program options and any restrictions that will impact your purchase process.
9. Prioritize and be open to the process
Make that wish list, but be willing to identify and clarify for your real estate broker which 3-4 factors top the list. Let’s face it, this most likely won’t be your last home so focus on key factors that can’t be changed (like location and budget) and work back from there.
10. Perfection is overrated
You love the neighborhood, but that kitchen! Could this alright home be perfect with a few minor modifications? Can you deal with imperfections now and upgrade later? Often times the home missing that “wow” kitchen is also well below the cost of the one down the street with all the bells and whistles. A little sweat equity or patience might be all it takes to land a great home that’s also a great value.
11. Don’t skip the home inspection
Learn as much as possible about the property before you buy. The inspection will be lengthy, but not every notation is a big deal. If big ticket items come up, you can get repair estimates and conduct further inspections. While it’s likely for huge problems to prompt additional negotiations, the inspection itself isn’t a tool to renegotiate or walk away if the seller doesn’t fix every little thing.
12. You don’t have to know it all
It’s perfectly normal to want to buy a home and not know much about the process. You can’t expect to dip your toe in the water and instantly know how to swim. Luckily you don’t have to go it alone. Find an real estate broker you trust who is willing to walk you through the process. Don’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions and seek clarification if you don’t understand something.
Want to talk about your future plans to purchase or learn more about the process? I love helping people prepare for purchase, find the right match and become homeowners. Give me a call for a no-obligation consultation.