Advice For First Time Home Buyers - No Spoon Full Of Sugar Added
Just like every other real estate agent, I am just full of advice, and love being asked for it. I was also once a first time home buyer, and remember how it was to be bombarded from all sides with advice, whether I wanted it or not. In retrospect, I do wish I had known then what I do now, as life is in most cases. On that note, I am laying out some things to consider, and be warned, they are not sugar coated, but they are well intentioned.
Be prepared to provide identification before an agent will take you out to see homes. This process is followed to verify that you are serious in your intent to buy a home, as well as providing a sense of security for agents and their families that their safety will not be compromised.
You Need To Have A Pre-Approval Letter
Home buyers need to know how much they can borrow for a mortgage loan. This will consist of your lender reviewing documentation verifying your credit, income, and assets to determine how much they are willing to loan you.
Don't Expect An Agent To Show You Homes Until You Have A Pre-Approval Letter
I cannot think of anything that is more discouraging to a first time home buyer than having their hearts set on a home only to find out they cannot afford it. In addition, many sellers require that a pre-approval letter be submitted with any offer. If you do not have one, then in the time it takes to acquire a letter another buyer may submit an acceptable offer costing you the home you want.
Have A Plan In Place, And Follow It
Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you can make, and it takes careful planning. Be aware of your credit score, and track it regularly. Understand that you will have to save money to cover your down payment, closing cost, inspections, appraisal, having utilities turned on, home maintenance, etc. Research the areas you are interested in moving to. Consider the actual move, hiring a moving company, packing, scheduling, then make a list of things you will need to take care of.
You Can Afford What You Can Afford
Keep your home search in line with what you can afford. Looking at homes priced higher than you are approved of with the expectation of making a low ball offer rarely works. Work with your agent to find homes that meet your needs within your budget.
Once You Are Pre-Approved...Don't Shop For Major Purchases
You will want to start shopping for the perfect furniture and appliance upgrades, but you need to remember that these will all affect your credit rating, and can impede your mortgage loan. Avoid making large purchases, or opening new rotating lines of credit such as credit cards.
Compromise Is Your Friend
Remember that the home seller is also going through a stressful and possibly emotional major life change. While it is important to follow up with any major issues that could arise from a home inspection, try not to get carried away over minor cosmetic notations or regular maintenance mentioned in the report. Don't risk losing out on a home by refusing to compromise over little things, and accept that every home will need to have some repairs made after the purchase.
People Are Emotionally Driven
Once you have found the perfect home, share the reasons with the seller. If you are a young couple with your first child on the way, and the sellers are an older couple who's children have all moved away, the sellers may love the idea of a new family moving into their home. A good buyers agent will talk with the sellers agent to learn their motivations, and share aspects of the buyers motivations that are compatible.
Well Maintained Homes Cost More
You will know when you walk into a home that has been well maintained and cared for. The sellers will expect to be compensated for their diligence in keeping the home in great condition. This type of home will be attractive to multiple buyers, so be prepared to present an attractive offer to the seller.
Pay Close Attention To Deadlines
Your agent should communicate with you all contractual deadlines, and the importance of having things done in a timely manner. These can include a due diligence period, financing and appraisal contingency deadlines. Failing to observe the due diligence period could end up costing you your earnest money deposit if you receive information from a home inspection that makes you decide not to buy the home. Let your agent know you want to be well advised of deadlines, scheduling, and appointments.
Use your Imagination
Allow yourself to visualize how a home could look, past clutter and undesirable paint colors. These are all cosmetic things that are inexpensive to remedy. A bit of elbow grease and a trip to the paint store can land you a diamond in the rough.