Buying your first home is something that you will remember forever. Whether it’s a fixer-upper or one you plan on staying in for a while, it’s a beautiful feeling getting to close the door behind you for the first time.
However, if you’re not properly prepared going into the process, you can quickly become overwhelmed with the complexity of finding, bidding on, and officially purchasing your first home.
Develop a Hard Budget
Before you begin searching the web or calling realtors, it’s important to understand your price range. Figuring out what the most you can afford with your current financial situation is the very first step one should take.
There are several different ways you can go about determining your budget for your first home. There are many trusted online mortgage calculators that can give you a general estimate on out-ot-pocket costs for your home each month. Some of these estimates will include insurance, taxes, HOA fees, etc. You can also contact any of Lineage Bank’s trusted Mortgage Loan Officers. Our parent branch’s team is happy to work with you to develop a budget that you’re comfortable with.
Make a List of Non-Negotiables
It’s important to go into the process with your ‘non-negotiables’. These are characteristics of the house you absolutely must have. A large dog means you will need a decent-sized backyard. If you cook a lot, a small kitchen may not be the best bet. Depending on what you plan to do with the home, a certain number of bedrooms may be required. These are the things you must know before you begin searching.
Research the Market in Your Area
It’s a good idea to get a sense for what comparable homes, apartments, or townhouses have sold for in your area. Simply use the filtering systems on the website you are searching on to find nearby recently sold properties with similar characteristics (square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.). This helps you work with your realtor to develop a quality starting offer when you’re ready.
Use an Experienced Realtor
An experienced realtor can help the process tremendously. According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors, 54% of buyers found their realtor from a personal referral or used a realtor they had worked with in the past. Ask your friends, family, or any other trusted sources of advice you may have for recommendations. Experienced realtors also often have contacts for other services you may need as a homeowner (real-estate attorneys, lenders, contractors, etc.).
Ask About Closing Costs
It’s important to remember that closing costs do not include your personal packing and moving costs, and depending on how far you may be moving, those costs can add up. Typically, closing costs includes hiring an appraiser to evaluate the home prior to the sale and a real-estate attorney to review the contract, among other things. Closing costs can vary immensely and should always be accounted for when buying a home.
Buying a home, especially your first home, is a complicated process. From the paperwork to the house showings and the hard decisions to the different rates, it’s a process that requires a lot of important decisions in a short amount of time. That’s why it’s important to ask questions along the way. No matter how ‘small’ or ‘dumb’ you might think the question is, ask it. Your realtor and lender are there to help you and walk you through the process. Remember, you’re the customer, and this is a very big step. The last thing you want is to regret any of your decisions after the purchase.
With the proper knowledge, a general idea of what you’re looking for, and the right team by your side, purchasing your first home can be a wonderful experience. If you’re in need of some assistance getting the process started, contact one of our parent branch’s experienced mortgage loan officers today. We’re happy to help deliver the keys to your first home.