Financial stability? Check. Got your priorities straight? Check.
So after much consideration, you’ve decided to buy your first home. You’ve finally reached a point in your life where you have achieved a sense of stability, and you need to find a space to better accommodate your family. Perhaps you simply realized that buying a house would be better long-term in lieu of renting.
But like all major purchases, this is definitely a decision that can have some serious ramifications if not done properly.
Yes, property rates and mortgage rates are at historic lows and on paper, it’s a great time to buy a home. The downside? With the economy still fairly unstable (improved, but still shaky), it’s important to consider everything before going out and shelling out thousands of dollars for a home.
So for all you first-time homebuyers, here are a few things for you to consider during the process:
- Financing: You (or your family’s) financial situation should always be taken into consideration. Think about how much you can afford at the moment, then find a lender who will give you a loan at a reasonable rate. The most important thing to do is to not buy something you can’t afford. For those who are really strapped for cash, there’s always the option of buying a low-cost fixer-upper with HUD’s 203(k) program.
- Make a List: List out what you’re looking for in a home based on categories of needs and wants. What are some of the features you absolutely can’t live without and what’s more of a luxury. Also consider what kind of neighborhood it is you want to live in. Do you want to live in a tight-knit community in town? Do you want to live out in the country? Is it going to have enough space for you and your children (or future children)? As always, safety is also an important thing to consider.
- Find an Agent: Find a dependable agent that will work with you to satisfy your needs. Whether you choose one that’s been a friend of the family for years or you threw a dart at the Yellow Pages, is entirely up to you. One thing to note, many people work with a particular agent simply because they were than name on the lawn sign of the first house they drove by and wanted to see. You must realize in those cases, that the agent works for the seller, not you. Be aware, ANY licensed Realtor can show you ANY home. It might be best to find one that has your best interest at heart, not the seller’s.
- Plan For the Worst, Hope For the Best: Okay, so you’ve finally found your dream house. Now before you rush out and put all of your eggs in one basket, there are a few things to keep in mind. While it might seem like a dream come true, ten other people could be thinking the same thing. If the market is moving fast, make the highest and best offer you can (within your means, of course), as you might not have any the opportunity to negotiate. If the market is moving slow, make the lowest best offer and leave room to negotiate a better deal.
- Inspect It: Hire an inspector to make sure you’re really getting what you’re paying for or if it’s really too good to be true.
Okay, so there are many different things to think about. Hopefully this guide can help point you in the right direction.
For now, here’s to you and your search for that house you’ve always wanted.