Did you know that June is National Homeownership Month? As a young professional, you might be thinking about buying your first home. It’s an exciting time! However, it’s important that you educate yourself a little bit before diving into the process.
Buying a home is a huge investment, so you want to be sure that you’re doing it right. If you’re angling to buy a home soon, there are a few things you should keep in mind as a first-time homebuyer.
Before you get started on your house hunt, make a list of your priorities. What’s important to you? Do you want to be in a particular area? Do you want to be close to town or on the outskirts? Do you want a condo or a house? Do you want a lawn or not? Do you want to live in a neighborhood or in a more private area?
Write down your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and absolutely-don’ts. This will give you a clearer sense of what you’re looking for during the process. Plus, it will help your agent identify potential options for you.
2. REALLY THINK ABOUT THE LOCATION.
When making your list of priorities, take some time to think about location. Where you decide to buy your home is a much bigger factor than you might think, according to local realtor Kristen Burke, who’s based out of in Hampton, N.H.
“Location, location, location are the three most important things to consider when buying a house,” said Burke. “Seriously, chances are this won’t be the last place you own and, whether you want to sell it in the future or keep it to rent out, location is going to an important factor.”
3. UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD.
Before you fall in love with a house, make sure you can afford it. It can be easy to flip through houses online and become attached to one that’s well out of your price range. Before you emotionally commit to a home, take a close look at your personal finances to understand what is realistic for your situation.
Also, consider getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan. While a pre-approval doesn’t guarantee a loan, it can give you an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on a home so you can conduct a more targeted search based on your price range.
“Get serious about your budget,” said Burke. “Before talking to a lender, get a realistic mortgage payment amount in mind. Remember to take into account all costs to maintain the home like utilities and creating a savings account for future home repairs. Just because you are approved for a higher amount, it doesn’t mean you have to spend it.”
Oh, and don’t forget about taxes! There are so many things you need to consider when buying a home. Taxes are one of them. Research how much taxes will be in the towns you’re interested in living.
4. WORK WITH AN AGENT.
Find an agent to help you. Don’t jump around from agent to agent. Instead, find someone you can trust and work with throughout the process.
According to Chris Conrad, a real estate agent based out of Portsmouth, N.H., you need to work with someone who is going to look out for your best interests. If you choose to work with multiple agents, you need to understand that they are likely going out for their client’s (the seller’s) interests, over yours.
Moreover, as a buyer, you need to be prepared to deal with multiple offers, counter offers, and so on. An agent will help you work through the process, give you advice, and help you move forward, which will make everything much easier and less stressful.
5. CONSIDER A CONDO.
“Owning a home comes with a lot of responsibility that many first time home buyers don’t consider,” said Burke. “It’s not just lawn mowing and shoveling snow to think about. There is always something that needs to be fix or maintenance to do.”
If you’re not really one for yard work or maintenance, consider a condo. According to Burke, most condo associations maintain the exterior of the home and some even have maintenance personnel on staff to help with interior fixes as well.
“Owning a condo can ease you into home ownership and are often great rentals to keep for the future,” she said.
6. PUT ON YOUR “HGTV” GOGGLES.
Another thing first-time homebuyers should consider is the potential of the homes and properties in their price range. Most first-time homebuyers aren’t going to be able to afford their “dream home” with all of the bells and whistles.
“With our HGTV environment, buyers don’t always understand that having that up-to-date home comes with a cost,” said Conrad.
When you’re scouting out potential homes, try to look at their potential. They may not be perfect now, but with a little work, they could turn into something very special. Remember that things like paint, carpet, and even walls can be changed!
7. KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS IN CHECK.
Buying a home is a process. Sometimes it takes a while to find something you like that’s in your price range. It’s important to manage your expectations during your search. If you look at a lot of places in your target area, you’ll have a better understanding of the market and what you can truly afford.
Buying your first home can be intimidating, even scary, but with the right help, knowledge, and mindset, you can really enjoy the process. If you’re considering purchasing a home, make sure you register for our homeownership series, “Catapult” Into A Home! To learn more about the series and to sign up, please click here.
Written by Ariella Coombs