Buying your first home is an exciting time, and there are numerous factors to consider before you sign on the dotted line. You may have spent years dreaming about a home in your childhood neighborhood, or you might have visions of a condo in the big city. Whatever home you envision, you can protect yourself from costly mistakes by preparing now. Think about the following tips for first-time home buyer success.
1. Work With An Experienced Agent
It is invaluable to have a local agent that can take your list of needs and wants and turn it into a completed sale. Ask for recommendations from friends or search for people with a current california real estate license on their professional website. Your agent can get you into houses before they appear on the market.
2. Use Online Listing Searches
Bring your favorite listings to your real estate agent or keep a list before you begin the search in earnest. Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia are good resources for finding new MLS listings and comparing recent sale prices. Real estate companies typically provide pictures and details of their listings on regularly updated websites.
3. Go To Open Houses
There is no substitute for seeing a house or condo in person. Bring your measuring tape and brainstorm a short list of questions for the listing agent before you go. Pay attention to noise levels, smells, the state of neighboring properties, road traffic, and natural light. Homes can appear bigger or smaller online, and gaining first-hand knowledge can help you to make informed decisions more quickly. A busy open house in a well-priced home may be a sign that the sellers are poised for a bidding war.
4. Walk Through Neighborhoods
Look outside the walls of your dream home. Drive or walk around the neighborhood on both weekdays and weekends. Consider where you might shop for groceries or meet future neighbors over a cup of coffee.
5. Plan Your Commute
Map out a few routes to work from your potential home. The time that you spend in the car or on public transit has value. Think about traffic in your area and whether walkability or bike lanes are important to you.
6. Research Local Services
Local public school reviews, recreation parks, public transit reliability, and emergency response services can be important considerations. Look for health care options if you are considering a move to a new city. The reputation of local services can have an impact on home value.
7. Look at The Price History
The public price history of real estate can tell a story. If the current owner bought the home for a low price and is listing it for much more within a year or two, they may be flipping the home. It is paramount to pay attention to this because many home flippers never live in their properties and focus on aesthetic changes over maintenance. Conversely, a dated home with no recent sales history may have been owned and maintained well by one family for decades.
8. Weigh Your Mortgage Options
Optimize your credit, save, and compare mortgage options. You can do all of this before it’s time to act on the purchase of a specific home. Look at multiple different banks, rates, and terms before you apply.
9. Know Your Real Budget
Buy a home with the uncertainties of the future in mind, such as changes in employment. Outline all of the costs associated with buying and maintaining a home before you tour options that may exceed your true budget. Peace of mind and financial security are vital. You may also qualify for first-time buyer assistance.
10. Don’t Skip the Inspection
Always go through with a home inspection before closing the sale, and budget for hiring your own inspector. This can save you money in the long run.
Get out there with confidence and make your dreams come true.