A Complete Checklist for First-time Homebuyers
Congratulations on taking the first step toward homeownership! If you’re like most people, buying your first home is a major milestone. Because purchasing a home is a huge deal, there’s much to consider before you’re ready to take the plunge. It’s an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. Here are a few things you should keep in mind as you begin buying your first home.
Know Your Budget
For many, the first step to leaping into homeownership is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Once you know how much you’re approved for, it’ll be easier to find a place that falls into your budget. But don’t just focus on the monthly mortgage payment. Make sure to also factor in property taxes, insurance, and potential repairs or upgrades down the line. It’s important to have a realistic idea of the expenses. All this will give you an idea of how much you can afford and help to narrow your search for a home.
Get Your Finances in Order
In addition to saving for a down payment, you’ll need a good credit score and a steady income to qualify for a mortgage. If your credit score needs some work, now is the time to start paying down any outstanding debts and making all of your payments on time. It’s also important to have a solid employment history; most like to see that you have been steadily employed for at least two years. If you’re self-employed, be prepared to provide detailed information about your income and employment history.
Once you know your budget, it’s time to start saving! Begin by setting aside money each month in a savings account specifically for your down payment and closing costs. Aim to have at least 10% of the purchase price saved before you start seriously looking at homes.
Start Shopping for a Lender
If you need to, look into reliable mortgage lenders and compare rates. Once you know how much you can afford and have started saving for a down payment, it’s time to start shopping around for lenders. Talk to your friends and family members who have recently purchased homes and see if they have any recommendations. You can also check out online reviews of lenders in your area. When comparing lenders, be sure to ask about interest rates, closing costs, and any other fees that may be associated with obtaining a mortgage.
Find a Real Estate Agent You Trust
Because you’ll be relying on your real estate agent to guide you throughout the house-searching process, it’s critical to find someone you can trust. Here you can also ask for referrals from friends or family members who have recently purchased homes. Once you’ve found a few agents you’d like to meet with, schedule consultations so you can get an idea of their personality, experience, and knowledge of the local market.
Find the Right Location
Finding the right location is one of the most critical factors in choosing your first home. When searching for a place to live, think about things like commuting, schools, safety, and amenities. Do you need to be close to public transportation? Are you looking for a family-friendly neighborhood with good schools? Would you feel more comfortable in a gated community? Consider your lifestyle and needs when narrowing down your search area.
Start Searching for Your Dream Home
The fun part is here: it’s time to start shopping for your dream home! With the help of your real estate agent, you can begin searching for homes that fit your budget and meet your needs. Work with your agent to develop a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves so that they can narrow down their search and show you homes that fit your criteria. Be sure to keep an open mind; you may find that your perfect home is not exactly what you initially had in mind. Once you find a few homes you’re interested in, it’s time to start touring them! Start attending open houses and scheduling private showings so that you can take a closer look at each property.
Make an Offer on a Home
Once you’ve found the perfect home, it’s time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will help you determine how much to offer based on things like recent comparable sales in the area, the condition of the home, and your budget. Once you and the seller have agreed, it’s time to close!
Purchasing your first home is an exciting milestone but also a big responsibility. There’s a lot to consider before taking the plunge into homeownership. However, the process will be much smoother if you research and prepare ahead of time. By following these simple tips, you’ll be on your way to finding the perfect home in no time!