First-Time Homebuyer? Don’t Make These Mistakes
Do’s and don’ts for your homebuying journey
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a home? If you’re a first-time homebuyer, the process can feel daunting. There are many mistakes that can be avoided if you’re prepared, informed and work with an experienced agent. For advice on how to make the home buying process easier, we asked a few Long & Foster Real Estate agents for tips to avoid missteps.
Here are a few of their suggested do’s and don’ts.
Educate yourself. Since this may be the largest financial transaction of your life, ask questions and educate yourself along the way. Lucinda Aguila, an agent in the Alexandria/Kingstowne Centre office in Alexandria, Virginia said it’s critical to do as much homework and research about homebuying as possible before starting the process.
Choose the right Realtor: “Buying a home can be an emotional journey, so your Realtor should be knowledgeable and set expectations for you, especially in this low supply and high demand market,” said Aguila. “With the proper guidance, you’ll be more likely to be successful during the process.”
Shop for lenders. Get more than one quote and shop for lenders who are experienced with first-time homebuying programs. “Not all lenders are familiar with first-time homebuyer loan options and grant programs,” said Darlene Brent of the Innsbrook office, in Glen Allen, Virginia. Likewise, some lenders offer special programs for first-time buyers. Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC, which is a Long & Foster company, for example, has a variety of options for first-time buyers.
Get lender pre-approval. Avoid looking at homes you can’t afford by knowing how much home you can afford before you begin your home search – and you’ll be able to act fast to make an offer on a home you love.
Consider current and future lifestyle goals. Ask yourself where you are at your stage in life, how long you plan to stay in the house, what’s important to you and why. “You may say you want to move further out to buy a larger home,” said Aguila. “But, if that means you’ll have a long commute time, it could affect your quality of life.”
Assume you need 20% down. “First-time homebuyers often assume they don’t qualify for grants or low-down payment loan programs,” said Brent. “Each state has a housing authority that can provide resources on first-time homebuyer loan programs and participating lenders to contact in your area to discuss your options.”
Your mortgage consultant can walk you through other options as well.
Try to buy your forever home. “Don’t try to buy the Taj Mahal for your first home,” said Brent. “Maybe you’ll live in it for a while and if your life circumstances change, the home could be your first rental property at a 3.5% interest rate.”
Take a crowd to the home inspection. “Bringing friends and relatives to the home inspection is not only distracting for the home inspector, but also for you,” said Susie Mathews of the Greenville, Delaware office. “With a crowd there, it is hard to focus on what the inspector has to say about the house.”
Miss an opportunity. “This is not your parent’s housing market,” said Brent. “Buyers have to be ready to write a contract when they see a house they like and often there is no time to bring mom and dad back to see it later. Mathews added first-time homebuyers often tell her they’ve read they should look at 10 to 15 homes prior to making a decision. “In this market, their dream house likely won’t be available after they’ve looked at additional homes,” said Mathews. “Don’t be afraid to act quickly if it’s the right house.”
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