First-Time Home Buyer Tips To Get You Started

As a first time home buyer, you risk venturing into the home buying market underprepared for all the unforeseen quirks of buying a new home. We’ve put together a list of tips to help you prepare for some unexpected things you should know before closing on your first home.

6 Tips for 1st Time Home Buyers

tips for 1st time home buyers

1. Hire An Agent That Works For You

It’s all too easy to choose a realtor from a “For Sale” sign in front of an outwardly appealing home, but this is not exactly the right way to go about hiring an agent. Ideally, it’s best to check with family or friends for agent recommendations, but unfortunately this is not always possible. Just like you shop around for a mortgage and home that suits you, you should also be shopping around for an agent. Your agent should have experience in the field and area where you will be looking to buy your new home, but be wary of agents with more than a handful of current clients. Your agent should work with you to find your ideal home, and you want to avoid vying for their attention amidst a sea of clients.

Finally, your agent should be someone who you can work with. This means flexibility on the agent’s part in terms of communication (if you are unable to take calls during the day, the agent should be willing to communicate with you via text or email), timely communication (at no point should you feel like you are chasing your agent or not getting answers to your questions), and a willingness to listen to your needs (your agent should not be pushing you towards homes that don’t suit the needs you’ve specified).
tips for first-time home buyers

2. Listen To Your Intuition And Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

When you start seeing houses, it’s important to trust all of your instincts. Use all of your senses – does the house have a funky smell you can’t quite put your finger on? It could be a sign of a much bigger issue such as a rodent infestation. Weird sound coming from the attic? That could be your new raccoon housemate. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if anything seems even a little bit “off.”

Additionally, make sure you inquire regarding the built-in appliances that are sold with the home. When was the dishwasher last replaced? Water heater? All these are important questions to ask well before putting in an offer on the home.
tips for buying a new home

3. Get A Feel For The Neighborhood

It’s important to look up neighborhood statistics before buying a new home, as these will have a significant impact on the home’s current and future value, and of course your day-to-day life in the home. Make sure to look up crime, weather, and similar statistics that can affect the day-to-day life in your new home. Even if you don’t have kids, check the ranking of the local school district, as this has a significant effect on house prices.

Keep in mind, however, that statistics only tell half the story. Get a feel for the neighborhood by driving around at different times and days. Try to mentally map out facilities and services you will want close by, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, shopping centers, etc., and make the trip during times of the day or week when you see yourself visiting these places. If you can’t see yourself making 45-minute round trip to the pharmacy, the home may not be right for you.
tips for new home buyers

4. Think With Your Head, Not With Your Heart

When looking for the perfect new home, many buyers build up a sort of ideal lifestyle to go with it. Of course the whole point of buying a new home is first and foremost a change in lifestyle, but you need to be realistic with what actually suits you.

For example, a swimming pool can be a fun feature in a home. But can you see yourself keeping up with the costs and time requirements of maintenance? A fireplace may be a beautiful focal point in your living room, but are you willing to spend money on yearly inspections and sweeps? If not, you may be better off looking for a home close to a public pool and with a furnace heating system .
Buy The Right Home

5. Know What You’re Looking For

This seems obvious, but many first time home buyers are too susceptible to outside influences when buying a new home. Once you’ve started your search, your agent may recommend homes that don’t tick every box on your checklist, or come with something extra. You should not necessarily turn these suggestions down, however don’t let yourself get pressured into buying something that you either can’t realistically afford or doesn’t suit your lifestyle. Make sure you have a solid idea of what you need in a home, and what nice-sounding tidbits are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how many people have seen the home before you, or how much the realtor tells you about the amazing resale value in so many years. If it’s not right for you – either in terms of budget or lifestyle – don’t get pressured into it.

Plan Your Budget

6. Plan Ahead With Your Budget

First time home buyers will often make the mistake of treating their preapproved loan amount as their budget. This is not the best way to look at things, and can lock you into a 30-year mortgage where every month you struggle to balance the checkbook. Instead of taking the preapproval number as a budget, be honest with yourself regarding how much you will be able to comfortably pay towards your mortgage each month, and work out a budget from there.

Additionally, consider that this monthly payment will need to come out of a different financial reality in the future. If you plan on having kids, going back to school, change jobs, or anything you can’t plan for like a medical or family emergency, your mortgage payment can prove too much. Make sure you take these future changes into account when calculating your budget.