Now that you’ve made the decision to purchase your first home, a hearty congratulations is in order! Becoming a homeowner, especially for the first time, can stir up some feelings of anxiety and excitement. With the knowledge that you gain through individual research and the help of your REALTOR®, you will soon begin to feel like a seasoned house hunter.
Tip # 1: Do Your Homework
Did you know that there are a number of incentives available to first-time home buyers? Everything from a 3-5 percent down payment and interest rates as low as 5.75 percent are just a few of the ways that lenders help to make the dream of home ownership into a reality for many. An FHA loan, for instance, is especially appealing to first-time home buyers. The best way to find out what’s available, in terms of down payment requirements and interest rates, is to do your homework by comparing offerings from various lenders.
Tip # 2: Save Money
Although many loans are geared toward offering lower down payments to first-time home buyers, it’s important to save as much money as possible so that you will have enough to provide an earnest money deposit (if applicable), pay for closing costs and still have the funds to furnish and decorate your new home.
Tip # 3: Get Your Credit Profile In Order
When you apply for a loan, the lender will access a copy of your credit report and will use the information to determine your creditworthiness and/or interest rate. This means that you will want to make sure that the information contained in your credit report is accurate and up-to-date. You can do this by requesting a copy of your file from each of the three major credit reporting agencies - Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
In addition to past credit history, lenders will also look at your current debt ratio in order to determine whether or not you can afford the home. This means that you may want to consider paying down some of your existing credit card debt and avoid taking on any new debt before applying for a mortgage.
Tip # 4: Start Your Search
With the World Wide Web being what it is today, it’s no surprise that many potential home buyers start their search online. A Realtor’s Web site is designed to not only list real estate, but also to educate a buyer as they move through the process of searching for a new home. In addition, the internet offers a way for consumers to browse through color photos and virtual tours, both interior and exterior, along with information pertaining to the homes themselves. The convenience of being able to find a home that you like without having to wait is just one of the many benefits to shopping for a house online. When you are finally ready to meet with a REALTOR®, you will already have one or more prospects in mind.
Tip # 5: Have Patience
Perhaps you will find the perfect house this week, or maybe it will take a little longer. Some buyers find exactly what they are looking for right away, while others have to do a little more searching to find their dream home. As a first-time home buyer, it’s a good idea to begin the process with an understanding that good things really do come to those who wait. You may see a number of homes, take numerous photos and may even make an offer or two, but patience may very well be the key to finding your new home.
Tip # 6: Take Notes
If you see a lot of homes, it will be impossible to remember the features of each. For this reason, you should consider taking a notebook and writing down each unique or defining aspect that you like or dislike about a particular house. This information, along with any photos that you take, will help you greatly when it’s time to make a choice.
Tip # 7: Don’t Settle
A home is a big investment and it could, quite possibly, be the largest you will ever make. For this reason, along with the fact that you will be living in the home every day, make sure that you get what you want. There could be an instance where you need to make some type of compromise, but you may want to avoid choosing something just because it’s within your price range or you feel as though it’s your only option. New houses are placed on the market every day and, as a buyer, the next one listed may just be your dream home.