A Guide to Buying Your First Home

Ann & Jeanie
Published on April 28, 2021

A Guide to Buying Your First Home

Buying real estate, while once touted as a wise investment toward your future wealth, has become somewhat of a scary prospect to first-time buyers. The market, right now, is moving at warp speed.

Home buying is a process and, like any other, there are steps you should take to get you to your goal. While it’s natural to be anxious about becoming a homeowner, take the time to follow the steps and, before you know it, you’ll be in your own home.

Finances

One of the unpleasant tasks in the home buying process is figuring out how much money you can spend on a house and then locating a lender to give you that money at an attractive rate and good terms.

You’ll need cash for the down payment and, unless you find a seller that is willing to help with them, you’ll also need some cash for the closing costs.

If you’re on a tight budget, consider some of the government programs. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) backs low-cost, first-time buyer loans through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Learn more at hud.gov.

No matter which route you decide to take you’ll need to shop for a loan. Take your time when looking for a loan, as rates and terms may vary widely between lenders.

Shopping for Your First Home

Real estate buyer’s agents will tell you that making a wish list is one of the most important steps to take before looking at houses. You’ll actually make the list and then edit it several times. If you’re half of a couple, you should both make your own lists.

Your original list should be an exercise in dreaming. Write down everything your ideal home would have – even if you think these items may be too expensive.

Let your imagination run wild. After it’s complete, go back over it with a more realistic eye. If you’re on a tight budget you may wish to cross off the stables and tennis courts.

Once you’ve whittled the list down so that it fits your real world, choose one or two items on which you will not compromise. Then, compare your list with your partner’s.

Anything that shows up on both lists is a “must have.” That, along with your top must have and your partner’s can’t-live-without, gives your agent a clear idea on which types of homes to show you and which to exclude.

Next, you’ll need to decide on a neighborhood. If you have children, proximity to your chosen schools may be the deciding factor.

Perhaps a location that provides for a quicker commute to work is your ideal. Decide on several areas and do a quick check of prices in the areas ensure you can afford to live there.

Now you’re ready to choose an agent. Ask friends, family, co-workers and neighbors for recommendations.

You’ve Found a Home – Now What?

Finding a house you wish to purchase is the first step toward what may be smooth sailing or an absolute nightmare. Prepare yourself for the worst and, if all goes well, consider yourself lucky.

First you’ll make an offer. Determine what you want to offer on the house and then follow your agent’s advice as to how appropriate the offer is. When the housing market is moving fast, with multiple offers on houses, make your highest and best offer at the outset, as you don’t have time to bargain.

Once the offer is accepted it’s important to adhere to the time limits in the contract. Order your home inspection and shop for homeowner’s insurance immediately.

You hold the key to a smooth real estate transaction. By preparing adequately and choosing the right professionals to help you along the way, you guarantee your success.

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