Buying a home any time can be stressful and daunting but it’s especially true for first time home buyers. There are so many things I wish I knew before I bought my first house. I did the research, knew the general area of where I wanted to live, had enough for the down payment, etc. I knew the basic, but very important stuff, that most people know but these are the things I wish I knew and will be taking into account the next time I purchase a home.
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Once I graduated college, I moved back home. This was a blessing because it gave me the opportunity to save up as much money as I could ( I still paid rent and bought the groceries), pay off some of my student loan, and build up my credit so that I was in a great financial position to buy my first home by the time I was 25. Thanks, Mom!
Once you are in a good place, financially, to start looking for a home it can be so overwhelming once you start getting out there. Here are some things to keep in mind so that you don’t rush and make a decision you might come to regret.
Don’t be House Poor: When I applied for a mortgage, they were going to give me a loan or 150,000! I knew I couldn’t afford the monthly payments and I would be living paycheck to paycheck if I had bought a home for that much. Get a loan for much lower than they are offering you. I highly recommend getting a home that you will be able to pay with one income if at all possible. You never know when you or your spouse may lose their job, get sick, etc. Just make sure you can realistically afford the houses you are looking for. Or else, you might have to go through the ordeal of facing bailiffs from companies like marston holdings and face lawsuits.
Start Living Like you Have a Mortgage: Take the monthly payment that you will be paying with a mortgage, including home insurance and property tax, and start putting that in a savings account. If you already pay rent to your parents or a landlord, take the difference that is left over from the rent and put that amount in a savings account. This will let you see if you can easily afford the mortgage and you can use the money you have saved toward the down payment or closing costs.
Do a Test Commute: If you aren’t moving for a new job, check out how the commute will be in the mornings and during rush hour. The traffic may be fine on a weekend or during the day when you are looking at the house but could be a total nightmare during these peak times. Do a test run one morning and see how long it would take you to get to work.
Check out the Neighborhood at Night: Everything may be fine during the day, but you really see how a neighborhood is during the evenings and at night. Is there ample lighting, do you see groups of people loitering, etc?
Hire an Inspector Yourself: Don’t get an inspector that is recommended by your realtor. Not all, but a lot of realtors just want to make a sell and will use inspectors that may not be very thorough. I had this happen to me. The house passed inspection but once we moved in, there were so many things wrong with the house that we had to fix. You can ask friends or family for recommendations or even go to the town hall to speak with some contractors. Just hire one yourself.
Do an Inspection Yourself: Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty when you are looking at a house. Check the attic and basement for any leaks. Look under sinks and look for any new paint work that could be covering up something, especially on the ceiling. Feel around the siding and window panes for any rotten wood. Turn the appliances on and off to make sure they work.
Check the Landscaping: Look at the bushes and trees around the yard. Are there any that are rotting and should be removed? Double check any large trees. Are there a lot of bushes touching the house? My exterminator said that is how a lot of bug problems happen. Is the size of the yard something that you can take care of yourself or will you have to hire landscapers? If you want a garden, make sure there is enough room for one.
Take your Time: This is the hardest part about buying a home. We looked for about 6 months before we finally found something that we could afford, we liked, and was in a decent neighborhood. You won’t find the absolute perfect house, you will have to make some compromises. Just make sure the most important things you wanted are there. You can always redo the yard, paint, or cabinets later. Make sure it is what you want and has good “bones”.
Prepare for Kids: Even if you aren’t planning on having kids soon but might one day, take that into consideration when buying a home. Our daughter was a surprise that we weren’t planning on so soon but we had an extra bedroom and the neighborhood has a pool and playground. We also have a yard for her to run around in. Check out the school ratings even if you don’t have kids because this can give you a good sense about the neighborhood.
Entertainment and Restaurants: I don’t like being far from shopping and restaurants. This was important when we were looking for a house. Make sure there are places you can easily order or pick up food for those nights you don’t feel like cooking. How far away will it be to get to a shopping center? We lucked up in having a grocery store, pizza parlor, and Chinese restaurant all at the entrance of our neighborhood. We won’t be starving 🙂 .
You will make a mistake or two when buying your first home but it is a learning experience and I know I will be a lot more vigilant about things when we buy our next one. Do you have any wisdom to pass on to first time home buyers? What do you wish you knew before buying your first home?
If you are interested in learning more and getting into the nitty gritty of home buying, check out 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask: With Answers from Top Brokers from Around the Country. It has some really good reviews and can help get you on the right track.