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Guide for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a house for the first time can leave you feeling excited and optimistic, yet unknowledgeable about what to expect during the process. There are many parts to contend with including lending, home inspections, house tours, and finding a great agent to help you get from negotiation to closing in a short amount of time.

Additionally, you’ll face new obstacles and terminology that can leave you frustrated and confused. Don’t be dismayed. There are some important details in this quick guide for first-time homebuyers that can help you move forward with confidence in your home buying process.

Save For a Down Payment

Before you get started, check your bank account. How much do you have saved for a down payment? Traditionally, you could only get a loan with 20% or more down. And in some housing markets, this could mean you’d need at least $100,000 or more to also cover closing costs. Fortunately, there are many newer loan types that only require 3.5% of the purchase price for a down payment if you qualify. Saving for a down payment can be daunting, so it’s best to start with a few goals in mind. You may even consider getting a side gig to help fund your house down payment.

Secure Funding

Before you go hunting for houses, it’s best to know how much you can afford. Banks will look at your income, your credit score, and your down payment savings to determine how much you can get for a home loan. They will also help you compare the different kinds of loans they can offer you. Each loan type will come with different interest rates, different monthly payment amounts, and some may even require you to pay mortgage insurance. Once you have a letter in hand for how much the bank will give you, you can start the next part of the process.

Partner With a Real Estate Agent

A first time homebuyer real estate agent will help you through the process. They know the unique needs of first-time buyers and that they need more handholding than someone who has bought and sold properties before. They are there to educate and inform, help negotiate the sale price of the home, and help you coordinate things like home inspections and more. You can find a great agent through referrals from family and friends and even online reviews.

Make a List of Your Needs

Help your real estate agent help you. Creating a list of needs will be extremely helpful in the process of buying a home. When you know that you need at least 3 bedrooms your agent won’t bother showing you 2-bedroom options. Likewise, when you need to stay in certain neighborhoods, they are less likely to find you homes in parts of town that are too far from your work. Communicating whether you can tackle a fixer-upper is also valuable information for your real estate agent.

Compile a List of Your Wants

In addition to your base needs, finding what you want is also important. Having your wants met means that your home will be more enjoyable for you to live in. While you may not need granite countertops in the kitchen or a separate shower and tub in the master bathroom, these features are what make a house more like home for some people. Additionally, if you desire a home with a larger yard where you can create a small garden, or one that’s fenced in for the kids or the dog, these are also important to communicate.

Don’t Skip the Appraisal and Inspection Process

Some home loans require an appraisal and inspection. Others do not. It’s important to have the home you’re purchasing appraised and inspected before you close on it. An inspection can help you negotiate home repairs prior to closing and may even give you leverage to get a reduced price on the home. It can also identify if there are major issues like a leaky roof, foundational cracks, and even mold or asbestos hiding in the home. An appraisal will ensure that you are not overpaying for the house.

Once you’ve done all these things, all that’s left is to do is to wait for closing. Be ready to give financial and tax documents to your real estate agent, don’t get any loans or make any large purchases before closing either. There is nothing more disheartening than lending not going through because you leased a new truck or got a new store credit card before you closed on your home loan.



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