Don't Feel Overwhelmed About Buying Your First Home, 10 Great Tips to Get Your Started
Buying your first house can be a scary yet exciting time in your life. While there are many factors to consider when buying your first home, such as its location (urban, rural, suburban), features (fireplace, eat-in kitchen), and style (two-story, brick, Colonial), there are some factors that should definitely be on your mind. Here is a list of 10 key points to decide on and then keep in mind while you are buying your first home:
- Location. Before you even start looking for a new house, decide where you want to live. This will narrow down your choices and not drive your real estate agent insane. You will also be able to devote more energy to analyzing the specific advantages and issues with each housing location. For example, if you choose to live in the city, you won’t have to consider access to public transportation, but you will have to analyze the availability of parking space.
- Amount. Your real estate agent will try to sell you as much house as possible because that increases his/her commissions. Set your house budget now and try to not exceed it by more than 10%. If you find that there is no way you can actually afford a house within your budget, it may be best to rent until you can.
- Poverty. Don’t buy so much house that you find yourself “house-poor” and unable to engage in the activities you love (i.e., traveling). In fact, a good exercise to do prior to buying a house is to work out a pretend mortgage and see if you can pay it every month.
- Market. Some houses will be drastically overpriced compared to their actual market value. Before deciding that a particular house is “the one,” take a look at the neighboring houses. Also, find out what were the prices of recently sold homes in the area.
- Patience. Don’t feel pressured into making an offer on a particular house just because your real estate agent is warning you about other interested buyers or being “locked out of the market”. There are plenty of great houses on the market, with new ones going up for sale on a daily basis. You will have ample opportunity to become a homeowner.
- Caution. Be cautious with your real estate agent and do not blindly trust in everything that he or she says. Remember: your agent is working on a sales commission and this ensures a conflict of interest.
- Cosmetics. Don’t wave off a house simply because you detest its wallpaper or paint color or carpeting. Such features are purely cosmetic and can easily be changed.
- Structure. On the other hand, consider very carefully if you wish to purchase a house with a cracked foundation, old furnace, or crumbling retaining walls. All of these items will cost a bundle to fix and/or replace, and the money spent for such “maintenance” will never be returned to you when you eventually sell the house.
- Neighbors. Buying a house is not like moving into an apartment where neighbors are evicted or move out every few years. As a homeowner, you could be stuck with your neighbors for 10, 20, or even 50 years. If at all possible, find out about the neighbors that are living next door to the house you are inspecting. For all you know, there could be a good reason why the current house is up for sale.
- Neighborhood. The house you are looking at may be located in a perfectly safe neighborhood- until you look three blocks away and see boarded up shacks and street gangs. Don’t just focus on the immediate surroundings of your house, but also on the areas lying beyond it. Oftentimes, there are pockets of well cared for homes that are surrounded (and eventually swallowed up) by bad neighborhoods.