The time has come … you’re sick of leases, sick of renting, and ready to invest in something of your own. Buying your first house sounds exciting, and it is, as long you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Here is a list of things you should be aware of before buying your first home.
Work with an agent that knows their stuff.
You are about to put your entire savings on the line, so finding someone you feel comfortable with is very important. You don’t want this to be a stressful process for you or your family. Interview, interview, and interview again. You’ll want to make sure this isn’t their “first rodeo.” Hire someone you are comfortable communicating with and has strong, knowledgeable team backing him or her up.
Don’t fall in love with a house.
It’s easy to see a home online and picture yourself living there. You book a tour, walk in and can see your flat screen on the wall. Don’t do this. You’ve heard the old saying “Listen to your heart,” however, when buying a home you need to listen to your head. Be practical. How does the home fall into your budget? What are the surrounding areas like? What will the upkeep, taxes and mortgage be? Using knowledge instead of emotions will enable you stay within your budget and walk away from a bad deal. No matter how much you love the house, there is always something better out there that will suit your needs.
Speaking of surrounding areas, talk to the neighbors.
There’s no better way to learn about your surroundings than asking the neighbors. They can tell you about the community, the school districts, and how safe the neighborhood is. It’s not a perfect home unless it’s an area you love and feel comfortable in.
Is it a house you can afford?
Buying a house is a much bigger deal than renting. It has a huge impact on your finances, so make sure it’s something you can afford. Remember to include not just the mortgage, but the property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, association dues, yard/pool maintenance, utilities, home upkeep, etc. Another thing to keep in mind is unlike an apartment or leasing a home, if an appliance breaks, you’re on your own. You won’t be able to have someone wave their wand and fix it. It now costs time and money. Just another factor to include in your budget.
Don’t rush the process.
Slow down and breathe. Buying a home is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re buying a new home, a roof over your head, a shelter that’s going to protect you, your pets, family and friends for many years to come. There are piles of paperwork, numerous inspections and examinations and other mandatory tasks that can take some time. Relax and try to enjoy the process. This is an exciting time but can be stressful, so don’t rush it.
Make sure you ask a lot of questions.
It’s okay to admit you don’t know what you are signing. In fact, you want to mention that. You’ll want to ask about every item you are confused on. Ensure that you understand all the documents in front of you, and all the revisions made to agreements. You’ll also want to ask about homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, earthquake insurance, etc. Figure out what type of policies you’ll need and a budget for them. Ask, ask, ask . . . it will help you in the long run.
How long do you plan to live there?
Most finance experts say that if you don’t plan to live in a home for at least five years then you shouldn’t buy. Their reasoning? If you live in the house for less than five years you most likely won’t recoup any of the expenses associated with buying (and later selling) the house. Plus, the first few years of mortgage payments mainly pay off interest, not your principal. This prevents any build up of equity in your home. Plan to buy when you want to stay for a while or know you can build enough equity in the home.
Remember cosmetic changes are easy to make, but structural changes are not.
You don’t have to be turned off by peeling paint or by existing carpeting. Cosmetic changes can be fixed. On the other hand, if you are looking for a bigger kitchen or master bedroom, you will need to decide if it makes sense to invest your money into this home. Structural change may come with risk, and risk can mean more money. You’ll need to decide if it financially makes sense or find another home that better suits your needs.
Buying a home is a fun new adventure, but you’ll want to have an enjoyable experience. Take your time, ask your questions, and find a home you love. You want to be comfortable with the decision you make. And when it’s time, contact a Bankers agent for a great Homeowners quote.