Purchasing your first home is one of the most important steps you’ll ever take. It involves a lot of legwork, and often a fair amount of stress along the way. By knowing how best to go about buying your first home, you can be sure to make the process as simple as possible. Here’s some advice to help you plan properly.
Know What You Need (And Can Realistically Afford)
First things first: Draw up a shortlist of what you need from your new home. Narrow it down to size, location, and price. ‘Location, location, location’ is the mantra, but there will always be a degree of compromise involved in any purchase. Being able to keep up payments on the mortgage is vital, so stay within your price comfort zone. Don’t forget, you can always try to knock a percentage off the asking price. Visit a variety of realtors, and never be afraid of wasting their time (it’s their job, after all). Look ahead to the future and ask yourself questions like "Will we quickly outgrow that cute 2 bedroom house?". If you’ve got a job you love, ensure the commute is tolerable (you might be making it for 20 or more years). And if you’re sharing the property, make sure everyone’s happy with it.
Work Out if You’re Going for Old or New
New home buyers are often dazzled by immaculate show homes, when sometimes they don’t need what’s being sold to them. On the flip side of the coin, doing up an older house may seem a romantic idea now, but will probably be less so two years down the line. As About.com explains, there are pros and cons to buying new houses, and to buying older ones. The latter are often cheaper (although not always), and tend to be more spacious. The downside of older houses is that more repair and refurbishing work is required. Have someone work out an estimate for you. The benefits of a brand new house include the fact that everything’s ready to go, and it won’t take another two years out of your life to do up. Ultimately though, only you can make the call.
Visit Potential New Homes. More Than Once
Though love at first sight exists in home-buying terms, it’s invariably best to make doubly sure. If you have a good first impression of a property, ask to see it again. And then again. And possibly again. It is a good idea to visit at various times of the day. The nice and quiet residential street may transform into a bustling and noisy route to the highway during morning or evening rush hour. Another top tip from Realtor.com is to talk to your potential neighbors. These are the people who might be signing for your parcels, lending you sugar and feeding your cat soon. If they turn out to be undesirables, you might want to steer well clear of the property. If possible, get a copy of some of the property’s recent utility bills. See how much gas and electric are likely to cost. This will minimize any unpleasant surprises later on.
Check Out The Neighborhood
Once you’re content with the property and its immediate surrounds, throw your net wider. Take a stroll around the local neighborhood, making a note of the shops and amenities on your doorstep. If it’s in a purpose-built community like Garrison Point, the property might have much of what you need inside the complex. On the other hand, seeking out your new favorite bakery or bar is fun too. This is also your chance to experience how lively, and how safe the neighborhood feels to you personally. Few realtors are going to tell you about a spate of recent muggings in the area. If in doubt, talk to a local policeman, or check the local news. If you have kids, seek out the performance records of the local schools. Another way to get a genuine taste of your potential new neighborhood is to spend a night out there, and stop overnight in a guesthouse.
Making the Purchase
So you’ve fallen in love with the place. Now all you need to do is secure it. Among the best ways to do this is to prove you’re serious about making the purchase, and an excellent way to do that is to get pre-approved for a loan. Says Yahoo! "A pre-qualification simply tells a Realtor that you are serious about purchasing a new home. A pre-approval tells all parties involved that you are financially ready to purchase a new home." When the seller recognizes you’re in a financially viable position to buy, they’re much more likely to hand over the keys. And as frontdoor.com advises, don’t forget about the property taxes. Know if they’re rolled into your monthly mortgage payment, or if you’re responsible for paying for them annually. Finally, get everything from everyone in writing all through the property buying process: You can never undervalue the importance of paperwork.