For first-time homebuyers, going from property buyer to property owner may seem virtually impossible. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of buying a home.
Now, let's take a look at three questions that every first-time homebuyer needs to consider:
1. What is my "dream" residence?
One first-time homebuyer's definition of a "dream" residence may differ from another's. As such, you should consider what you'd like to find in a dream house before you begin your real estate search.
Creating a checklist of "must-haves" and "wants" in your house often serves as a great starting point for first-time homebuyers. This checklist will enable homebuyers to consider what they'd like to find in a dream home and plan accordingly.
Also, it is important to establish realistic expectations before you kick off a home search.
Many terrific houses are available in cities and towns nationwide, but no home is likely to have every feature that you desire in a dream residence.
Therefore, if you establish realistic expectations for your home search, you can avoid potential let-downs as you explore a broad array of high-quality houses.
2. How will I pay for a home?
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is vital for a first-time homebuyer, and for good reason. With pre-approval for a mortgage, you'll know what you can afford to spend on a home before you enter the real estate market.
Many banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you to discuss your mortgage options. These lenders can outline the differences between adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages, help you assess your credit score and ensure you can make an informed mortgage decision.
Furthermore, lenders can answer any mortgage questions that you may have. They can help you evaluate your current financial situation and enable you to obtain a mortgage that won't force you to revamp your day-to-day budget.
3. How do I begin searching for a house?
Beginning a home search is easy, particularly for first-time homebuyers who work with expert real estate agents.
An expert real estate agent understands what it takes to find a wonderful house at a budget-friendly price. In fact, he or she will do everything possible to help you navigate the housing market quickly and effortlessly.
Typically, an expert real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and submit home offers on your behalf. This housing market professional also will offer honest, unbiased recommendations throughout the homebuying journey to help you select a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.
When it comes to exploring the housing market, there is no need to work alone. Fortunately, you can hire an expert real estate agent who can help you get the best results possible during the homebuying journey.
Want to acquire your first home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can move one step closer to owning a top-notch house.
Ready to submit an offer on a house? Not so fast. First, you'll want to consider a few key questions, including:
1. Can I afford to buy a house?
If you find a house you like, make sure you can afford the monthly mortgage payments. By doing so, you may be able to avoid costly, time-consuming problems down the line.
Ultimately, getting pre-approved for a mortgage can make a world of difference, particularly for a homebuyer who is ready to submit an offer on a home.
With pre-approval for a mortgage, a homebuyer will understand exactly how much money is at his or her disposal. As a result, this homebuyer can avoid the temptation to overspend on a house.
2. Should I submit a "lowball" offer?
For many homebuyers, it may seem like a good idea to submit a "lowball" offer on a house. But doing so may be problematic for a number of reasons.
If you submit a lowball proposal, a home seller is unlikely to take your bid seriously. As such, this home seller may dismiss your offer and move on to other proposals quickly.
In addition, a lowball offer may cause you to miss out on the opportunity to acquire your dream residence.
When you locate the perfect residence, there is no need to leave anything to chance. If you submit a fair proposal that meets or exceeds a home seller's expectations, you can avoid the risk of losing your dream house to a rival homebuyer.
3. How much should I offer for a residence?
We've already established that a lowball offer is rarely, if ever, a good idea. Now, you'll just need to determine what differentiates a fair proposal from a lowball one.
A fair proposal accounts for the needs of both a homebuyer and home seller. It should be based on the current state of the housing market as well as the condition of a home.
For instance, if you're operating in a buyer's market, there is likely to be a broad assortment of homes available. This means a home seller may need to lower his or her expectations due to the sheer volume of quality residences currently on the market.
Don't forget to study the prices of recently sold homes in a particular city or town too. This housing market data will help you better understand how a residence you're considering stacks up against comparable houses so you can submit an appropriate offer.
4. Do I need a real estate agent?
A real estate agent will take the guesswork out of buying a home, and for good reason. This real estate professional can help you prepare an offer and will negotiate with a home seller on your behalf. That way, you can streamline the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.
Hire a real estate agent before you submit an offer on a house – you'll be glad you did. A real estate agent will guide you along the homebuying journey and ensure you can secure a great house at a price that fits your budget.
Buying a new home can be an exciting experience. Unfortunately, the closing can seem a little daunting if you are unsure about what to expect during the closing process. Below is a simple guide as to what you can expect during the closing of your first home.
Knowing How Long the Process May Take
The process of closing a house is a complicated one and can take some time to perform properly. Don't expect to be able to move in shortly after your offer is accepted. If the seller does not request a longer escrow period, it can still take up to 41 days for the closing process to be completed. This length of time is typically the result of delays in the process, with the most common types of delays including transactional and financing issues.
Knowing Who Will Be Present During the Closing
While you may obviously expect both the seller and your's and their real estate agents to be present, there are also other officials who will need to be included in the process. There will be a representative from the title company, the lender who is providing the financing and a closing agent who will be brought by either the title company or the lender. Depending on the level of complication of the transaction, an attorney for you or the seller may be present as well.
Understanding Which Documents You Will Be Expected to Look At
You will be presented with a number of key documents during the actual closing and will be required to sign a number as well. The amount of paperwork can seem overwhelming, but your agent, the finance company and a representative from the title company will be there to answer any questions that you may have about each of the documents. You can better prepare yourself by understanding the purpose of each document before they are presented to you. Documents you are likely to see during the closing process include:
- Loan Estimate: The loan estimate will include the terms of the loan, the interest rate and detailed closing costs. You will be expected to verify that all the information in the document is correct.
- Closing Disclosure: This will outline the details of your mortgage, and you will be able to see the document before the closing, so any changes can be made if necessary.
- Escrow Statement: The statement will detail the payments that will be made from the escrow account during the first year of the mortgage from your lender. It will include taxes and insurance.
- Mortgage Note: This is your promise to repair the mortgage and what steps the lender can take if you fail to make payment.
- Deed: The deed to the property will provide the lender's claim against your home if you fail to pay.
If you are unsure about any of the closing process, talk to your real estate agent, so there are no surprises, and your closing can proceed as smoothly as possible.
For most people, buying a house is the biggest investment they will make. Unless you are paying cash, the transaction could become complicated. Not that many people can pay cash for a house – and for those that can, it often makes more sense to borrow than to use up cash reserves, especially if interest rates are low. Whether this is your first home purchase or a subsequent home purchase, you might consider going with as much home as you can afford. In some cases, such as when the elderly want to downsize, smaller is better, but in most other cases, larger is better.
When you do go to sell your home to downsize or because you get a job transfer, you’ll get more money for a larger home. Most people want at least three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Those houses tend to sell easier than homes with fewer bedrooms and bathrooms.
If you are newly married, planning on getting married or moving in with your significant other, or if you are older, but plan to have one of your children move in with you, you might want to start with a larger home so that you won’t have to go through the hassle of selling to upgrade. Even if you are single, if you plan on having a family, you might want to buy a larger house now. If you change your mind about the family, you can always sell it later on – and get more for a house that will be easier to sell.
When you entertain, you won’t be stuck sleeping on the floor or on the sofa if you have extra bedrooms. Your guests can have the privacy of their own room when you buy a bigger house. The more bedrooms you have, the more people you can have stay over. If you have just one person or family stay over, you might prefer just one extra bedroom, but if there’s a possibility that two friends stay, go for two or more extra bedrooms.
If you have hobbies, the extra rooms are great for decreasing the clutter around your house. A hobby that takes up tons of space is reading. If you’re an avid book collector, line the walls of an extra bedroom with bookcases – from floor to ceiling – to store all of your books. If the room has a good view, build a window seat in the room for a comfortable and quiet reading space.
And, if you need a home office, you can convert an extra bedroom into an office. You’ll have a quiet space to work, plus you’ll be able to lock up confidential information, whether you use a filing cabinet or install a hidden safe in the room.
If you want to buy a house, it pays to enter the real estate market with a checklist in hand. That way, you can streamline the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.
Now, let's take a look at three things to include in your homebuying checklist.
1. Your Budget
Your budget will dictate whether you're able to afford a condo, luxury home or something in-between. As such, you'll want to assess your finances closely as you determine exactly what type of house that you can afford.
Oftentimes, it helps to get a copy of your credit report. You are eligible to receive one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If you know your credit score, you can determine whether now is a good time to enter the real estate market, or whether you should improve your credit score first.
You may want to consult with several banks and credit unions too. These financial institutions can teach you about various mortgage options and help get pre-approved for a mortgage. Then, once you have a mortgage, you'll know exactly how much you can spend on a house and tailor your home search accordingly.
2. Where You Want to Live
Living in the suburbs is very different from residing in the city. Therefore, you'll want to consider where you want to live so that you can search for a home in specific areas.
For example, if you prefer the peace and quiet of a small town, you may want to consider houses in small towns in the state of your choice. These towns may feature dozens of available homes. Plus, in many instances, small town houses are priced lower than big city residences.
Or, if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city, you can search for residences in any city, at any time. These houses likely will ensure that you'll have quick, easy access to a variety of big city attractions and landmarks.
3. Real Estate Agent
There is no telling whether you're about to enter a seller's or buyer's market, as the housing sector often fluctuates. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can increase the likelihood of a quick, successful homebuying experience, regardless of the current housing market's conditions.
A real estate agent is committed to your homebuying success and will do what it takes to help you find the right home, at the right price. He or she will learn about your homebuying goals and offer expert insights into the real estate market. Also, if you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent is available to address them.
For those who want to streamline the homebuying process, it helps to hire a real estate agent. And if you hire a real estate agent today, you can get the assistance that you need to make your homeownership dream come true.
Get started on your homebuying checklist, and you can simplify the process of acquiring your ideal residence.