10 Things Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Do
1.Thoroughly research your desired location
Buying your first home will be a major investment so it's wise to make an informed choice. Even if you don't have kids yet, check out school districts, as well as property tax rates, insurance rates and crime statistics. As a first-time buyer, you might want to be on the lookout for properties in 'up and coming' districts that will make for a good future investment.
2. Invest in a thorough home inspection
Finding a place to fall in love with is only half the battle -- there's nothing worse than discovering a problem with your new home that's going to be expensive and time-consuming to fix after you've completed the purchase. To avoid this, always invest in a detailed inspection of the property you're interested in. Don't be put off if a few flaws come to light -- you can use this information to negotiate the purchase price.
3. Don't stretch your budget too far
It can be tempting to push for that perfect property, but try and keep a level head. Repayments can really put a strain on your monthly budget and affect your quality of living for years to come. Not to mention, you'll want to set aside some cash to furnish your new place and make it your own!
4. Make that down payment
If you can afford it, make every effort to meet your planned down payment. Property investment is far more stable than other forms of investment and ensures you start off with some equity and a good credit rating.
5. Make the move when the time is right for you
Buying your first home is an expensive commitment, and you definitely shouldn't make any rash decisions. You'll incur many more expenses as a homeowner than a renter -- property taxes, homeowner's insurance and HOA fees, to name a few. Before completing your purchase, make a thorough budget, taking into account any likely future costs, as well as a contingency fund in case of redundancy etc., to make sure you're really ready to make the investment.
6. Don't wait too long
That being said, if you've done your sums and all the research you can, there's nothing stopping you from buying your first home. The media is always talking about 'good' and 'bad' times for home buyers, but there's really no perfect time to make your move as the real estate market is so unpredictable. If you're ready, then go for it!
7. Check out building plans for your neighborhood
You may have a picturesque view of the forest at the moment, but that could turn into an apartment block in the near future. Make sure to find out what's in store for your neighborhood in the future, as this could significantly affect property prices for better or for worse.
8. Get your strategy sorted
It's tempting to go in with a low starting bid to try and secure a bargain, but this may give the impression that you're not a serious buyer and someone else could go in with a slightly higher bid and steal the property. That being said, you don't want to pay any more than you have to. Look at how long your chosen place has been on the market, and take some advice from your realtor before deciding what your bidding strategy is going to be.
9. Be sure that homeowning is right for your lifestyle
Does your job require you to move around a lot? Do you see yourself somewhere else in five years? If so, then renting may make more sense financially and in terms of your lifestyle. Homeowning ties you down, and you may miss out on future opportunities if you can't up and leave on short notice.
10. Be realistic
You may be able to get more real estate for your money if there's some renovation involved. That's no bad thing, but be realistic as to how much you can actually take on, including areas, such as landscaping, that are easy to overlook at first glance.