If you’re a first-time homebuyer, how do you go about finding a home? Here are a few tips that will help ease you into the process and make sure you get to the closing table with as little hassle as possible.
First, start looking around online and researching local agents in the area. Some of the bigger real estate sites like Zillow might not be updated all the time, so it’s a good idea to connect with some local agents early on.
After that, tour the areas you want to live in and narrow them down. During this time, you’ll also want to start interviewing agents. I know a lot of millennials nowadays insist that they can buy a home on their own, and maybe that’s true, but agents can provide you with a lot of information you otherwise won’t have.
For example, they can help advise you on what you’re looking for and steer you in the right direction so you don’t waste your time looking at houses that aren’t a good fit. After all, they’ve very likely been in many of the houses in the area you’re looking to live in.
On a related note, remember that a home’s online pictures don’t always tell the whole story. A lot of people don’t want to waste their time looking at homes that don’t look great in pictures, but you can’t count on these pictures to tell you exactly how a house looks or whether it’s really in an area you want to live in. That’s why it’s important to see them in person. If you’re just starting out and you’re moving from the city into the suburbs, I recommend attending at least 10 open houses before you start narrowing down your options.
Another thing you want to do early on in the process is to get in touch with a lender and get pre-approved—there’s nothing worse than shopping for homes without knowing what you can afford.
Also, keep in mind that no matter what price range you’re buying in, every home will have at least one thing you don’t like about it. None of them will be perfect—you can probably get about 80% or 90% of what you’re looking for, but not 100%.
After you move on to the inspection phase, remember it’s normal for a few things to need to be repaired. I’ve seen a lot of home inspections go awry because the buyers insisted that everything had to be clean and in perfect working order, and that’s just now what homeownership is.
With that in mind, keep your inspection requests to non-functioning items such as a leaking roof or a furnace that’s not working. The contract you sign only allows you to ask for requests on major non-functioning items anyway. In other words, if you come across a furnace that’s 30 years old but it still works, you can’t ask for a new unit.
This is why it’s important to know how old the home’s mechanical systems are and take that into account before writing your offer. If the roof is, say, 25 years old, there’s a good chance you’ll need to replace it within the next five years. If you wait for the inspection to find that type of thing out, you’ll have to renegotiate the purchase price, which rarely ends well.
If you have any more questions about being a first-time homebuyer or you have any other real estate needs at all, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I’d love to help you.