Buying a home is exciting, challenging, and at times can be very stressful, especially if it is your first time. Following these few tips and working with the right Realtor can make a huge impact on your experience. Being a first-time homebuyer doesn’t have to be scary, after all, you worked hard to get to this point and you deserve to make this as fun of an experience as possible.
Tip 1: Select an agent you trust.
Most people if not everyone knows a Realtor and there are a lot of us out there just waiting for the moment a friend or family member says that they are ready to buy or sell a house. But what if you’re moving to a new location, not sure you want to use your best friend’s, brother’s, girlfriend’s mom, or not sure that your family member is a good fit to work with? You should feel comfortable finding the right agent for you! Interview as many as you like, see what they bring to the table in all aspects of the interaction. What is their knowledge of the area you’re moving to? Do they have the support of a team behind them if they are taking a vacation or if you have questions when they aren’t available? How successful are they? Most importantly, in my opinion, do you feel connected to them? Could you see yourself feeling comfortable with this person taking you around the town to find the home that checks off what you are looking for? It is okay to talk to many agents until you find the right one.
Tip 2: GET PRE-APPROVED!
I am sure you have heard this before but, even if you have keep reading. Getting pre-approved should absolutely- positively be one of the first things that you do when considering buying a home. There is nothing more frustrating than having a rough idea of what you want to spend on a mortgage monthly only to find out the online calculators and personal income averages that you created gave you a false sense of security in being able to afford a $500,000. Then after finding that dream home, you come to find out that you’re pushing your limits with a $300,000 home. Not only will being pre-approved help you understand what you can comfortably afford, but it will also help you when putting in an offer on that home that checks all of the boxes. In this market, many sellers won’t even look at your offer if, at the very least, a pre-qualification letter doesn’t quickly accompany it. Ask your realtor for a preferred lender, and feel free to get a second opinion. Just like finding an agent you want to make sure that you’re working with a lender you feel comfortable with and always try to find the local mortgage lenders over the big-name banks.
Tip 3: Want, Need, and Have to Have
It would be amazing to find a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home, with that beautiful yard, built-in swimming pool, and two-car garage for under $300,000 but is it realistic? Depending on where you live (and if it’s the Sarasota-Manatee areas) probably not. So with that said, what are your wants and needs. Do you have dogs? Do you need a yard or is a dog park nearby okay for you and your beloved pet? Do you need three bedrooms or is a two-bedroom going to be perfect for you? Write down everything that you need first. From there write down the non-negotiable items, the items that if the home doesn’t have even just one of you’re walking. After that write down the “would be nice” or want items. Nonnegotiable items could be things like location, school district, all the way down to a large closet in the owner-suite. We all have those little things that mean for to us than others. For example, in my home buying case, my non-negotiable item was a fenced yard for my dogs, and 2 bedrooms. Everything else I was open to.
Tip 4: Be ready to see a lot of homes.
The first home that you walk into is rarely going to be the one. It happens but on average home buyers see about 10 homes before finding THE one. Your agent will do a lot of work for you in finding homes that match your wants, meeting you on your schedule, and making sure that you are aware of new homes coming on the market as they become known. With that said don’t be afraid to send your agent homes that you find on your own. If you are up one night looking through a home search site and you find one that is checking off a lot of your boxes let them know!
Tip 5: Act quickly
You saw that perfect home, it is a huge decision, this could be your home for the next 15-30 years. You decide that you want to sit and think on it overnight to make sure the decision feels right and all the stars point you right back to that beautifully painted front door. The next morning you wake up and it is all you can think of. You call your agent and tell them you’re ready to put in an offer only to find out that it is under contract. I can’t stress that this happens every. single. day. In this market, some homes are off the market the day after they’re put on the market and even homes that are lasting longer may only last on the market for 10 days, not even two full weeks.
Tip 6: Be patient
You keep signing offers, sending them over, and they get rejected. The first one stung, the third you felt your dreams slipping away, the fourth you thought about giving up. It is heartbreaking and is mentally exhausting. You put in those offers and each time you sit there and start planning what color couch you want, where you’re going to put that piece of art you bought on clearance 2 years ago that you knew would make the perfect addition to your home one day. Then the news comes and you are crushed and that is okay. Feel those feelings but remember there are more homes out there and there was probably something wrong with that house anyway! But then, you take a day and mourn the loss of what could’ve been. You’re laying on the couch and you get a call from your agent, they want you to see this home that just popped up. You go see that fifth home. You walk inside and you feel like you’re home. You try not to get too excited but you write that offer and go home expecting to get the same “we lost it” call. You’re not even halfway back to your 1 bedroom apartment, daydreaming the entire drive of that home and you get the call. They accepted your offer!
Tip 7: Don’t drag your feet
The minute your offer gets signed and you’re under contract on what will soon be your new home there will be a million and a half documents and items that will either need to be signed or sent over to either your lender or your agent. Do your absolute best to be as fast as humanly possible at getting those items taken care of. This is where the process can either be smooth sailing or an unnavigable storm. The faster you get information over, the faster the process truly begins and if additional items are needed for one reason or the next we have plenty of time to make sure that we can get everything needed with plenty of time to spare. You don’t want to get to the week before closing and get the news that you are still missing documents and closing is now going to be pushed out another two weeks. You won’t be happy, your agent won’t be happy, and the seller will not be happy. Time is of the essence!
Tip 8: Get the inspection
I don’t care if the home is brand new and you’re paying cash, get the inspection done within your inspection period. Most contracts allow for a 15-day max inspection period allowing for you to get a professional home inspection completed, give you time to review the results of that inspection, and if necessary ask for certain items to be fixed or corrected before closing. Most lenders will require an inspection to be done, and on top of that, the insurance company is going to need an inspection done to bind your insurance. You’re going to be given a list of several different inspection options when you are asked to get one. A General inspection is just that, the general condition of everything visually seen in and outside of the home. A 4 Point inspection is going to cover four main areas of the home, roofing, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. If you’re buying in Florida you may also want to get a Wind Mitigation Inspection. This will inspect the overall stability of the home in the event of a severe wind event (hurricane, tornado, big bad wolf) this will also help give you some additional discounts on your insurance.
Tip 9: Stay financially consistent
I can’t stress this enough. Absolutely, under no circumstance, should you be making a large purchase while you are still waiting on that clear to close for your mortgage. It might be a nice thought to have a nice brand new car pulling up to your brand new home. Maybe you’re treating this as a new life change and you want to quit your job and try your luck at making a living selling your hobby on Etsy. Just do me and everyone involved a favor, please, do not do this. If the day after you close on that house you want to chase these dreams, and you have enough extra saved up for a few months in case your Etsy shop doesn’t pick up, have at it. But you need to promise me and every lender and agent out there right now, you will not make any big purchases or changes while under contract on a new home.
Tip 10: What to expect on closing day
Closing day is here. You waiting 30 or more days but you received the email last night that you are now clear to close and you are going to meet your agent at the home to do one last walkthrough. You and your agent will make sure that everything on your inspection you asked to fix is fixed, and even more importantly there is nothing new wrong with the home. Make sure the hot water works, AC, and heat both seem to be working, no new leaks under the sink, and everything looks the way you remember it. After that, you’re going to head over to the title company or attorney’s office and sign our name roughly 100 times on several documents that will be tucked into a nice folder that you will probably through into a random bin and forget about until the next time you move. Then your agent is going to hand you your brand new key to your first home and that is it! It is now your home and you did awesomely!
Buying a new home for the first time or the 20th time can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. It matters who you work with so mind those people that specialize in finding people their dream homes and can be your one-stop resource even after the closing is over. If you ignore almost everything above (except Tip 9!) but you have the right people standing behind you, buying a new home can be a smooth and easy process.
If you’re interested in finding your first or your next home give us a call and let us show you how calm this process can be!