Real estate agents work with first-time home buyers across the nation every day. They understand the concerns, fears and non-stop questions. You should have questions, and you should have some trepidation especially if you haven’t done any researching.
It takes a lot of money and commitment to buy a house. But agents are sharing their best tips on how to make the experience successful and not so stressful.
Here are the thoughts from agents and brokers who have been in the industry awhile and worked with hundreds of first-time home buyers:
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1. Find a trusted Realtor
Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming. So don’t do it alone, says April Williams, realtor at CBSHome in Omaha. Talk to your friends and family and find a realtor they have worked with that they trust. A realtor will help guide you through the process.
“I enjoy first-time homebuyers because they are curious about everything since they haven’t gone through it before and want to learn about all aspects of buying a home,” she adds. “Not all realtors are alike. So feel free to interview multiple realtors and find one that fits your style and personality.”
2. Understand all lending programs available
“I’m amazed by how many people go to their local bank because their mom and dad did,” said Robert Allmandinger, managing broker at Mel Foster Co. in Clinton, Iowa.
Unfortunately, that bank may not have the programs most first-time buyers can utilize (such as 100% financing, downpayment help, etc.).
3. Get preapproved
Before starting your home search, it’s important to get preapproved, Williams says.
“You never want to look at houses that are above what you can afford. The worst thing is to find a house you love and find out you can’t buy it because it doesn’t meet your financial needs,” she says.
The lender will also outline all of the fees associated with buying a home so you know how much you need to save for a downpayment and how much the closing costs will be. Once you have this step down, then you can get out and start looking.
4. Research the area you want
Many times buyers choose several neighborhoods that are scattered about but have no similarities to each other, says La Shandria Sanderson, broker associate at Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty in Chicago.
“This often means they have no clue as to what they really want and what they are looking for in a neighborhood,” she adds. “This uncertainty can lead to them moving into an area they are not so pleased or content and comfortable living.”
That research should include checking demographics, shopping, schools, and other amenities that are important to them.
5. Don’t wait for an open house
Looking at houses should be fun! Make sure to use your realtor to look at them when it is convenient with your schedules, Williams states. The inventory changes daily, so you’ll want to make sure you stay on top of the market.
If you see a house you like make sure to go out as soon as you can because it might not be around still on Sunday during a scheduled open house.
6. Make sure to negotiate a home warranty and don’t skip inspections
Skipping these items could mean huge dollar needs that most first time buyers don’t have, Allmandinger adds. He has seen major appliances quit, roofs leak and sewer line issues come quickly after people bought their homes.
7. Beware of HOAs
When buying a condo, buyers should be aware of Home Owners Association (HOA) fees which are due monthly, Sanderson explains. Have an idea of what you can afford monthly as well as what the fees include.
The most basic HOA dues will include common area maintenance and insurance, snow removal and lawn care in the summer. Buyers should be knowledgeable and make decisions on what works best after assessing needs and wants.
8. Know the right information to give a fair offer
Once you find the house you want to make an offer on, your realtor should provide you with a market analysis for the area, Williams says.
“You want to make sure the listing price is online with what the home is worth. This will help you out with negotiating and having peace of mind that you didn’t pay too much,” she adds.
There are a lot of other pieces that make up the offer, and your realtor will help you with making sure what you are offering the seller is what you expect for the house. Each house and situation is different and should be handled cautiously and with great detail.
9. Recognize the extra work and money to be a landlord
Sanderson has some buyers express interest in buying a two flat unit or multi units with the idea of renting out a unit to earn additional income.
“However, this also means being a landlord and being aware of certain tenant/landlord laws such as the heat ordinance that needs to be adhered to in any lease situation,” she says.
All the upkeep, repairs and maintenance for a single family unit or a multi-unit are all on the owner.
10. Enjoy the process
There are so many pieces to the puzzle of buying a home, and so much information you didn’t know you needed to know, Williams says.
“When working with a first time home buyer, I share constant information. Each showing is a training session about something,” she says. “There can be surprises that come up from time to time, too.”
But she emphasizes that it should be a time of joy and fun. Letting the real estate agent ease your mind or provide you with guidance to make the right decision will help make the process smoother and more enjoyable.