If you’re in the process of buying your first home, there are definitely going to be many questions that you will ask throughout the process. You are going through a new experience, and there are a lot of things that you will learn about during the process of buying your home. Below are eight tips to keep in mind during your home buying experience so you don’t have to learn these lessons the hard way.
1. Use a Buyer’s Agent
A buyer’s agent is a real estate agent that is working for you, the buyer. 88% of homebuyers work with an agent or broker, and if you’re a first-time homebuyer their help can be especially helpful. Make sure that you are working with a dedicated buyer’s agent and not an agent working as both a buyer’s and seller’s agent because if you end up interested in a property that they are selling, there will be a conflict of interest.
2. Location Location Location
The only thing about your house that you truly can’t change is where it is. No amount of remodeling will give you a shorter commute to work, so make sure that you know that the location of your home is somewhere you want it to be. In addition, pay attention to the culture of the neighborhood and the surrounding areas. For example, if you’re a young family, moving into a neighborhood with other families means your kids will have friends to play with. If you’re a family with young children you might also consider the kind of road that your home will be on — being alongside a very busy and high-speed road may not be the best choice if you have a toddler that likes to run free.
3. Stick to Your Budget
Although it can be tempting to stretch your budget to the absolute max, in the long term buying a house that you can’t afford will not help you. If you have already saved up a down payment and have a preapproval letter, it may not be wise to go over your budget either since you will either need to save more money for a down payment or pay extra insurance on your mortgage for not having 20% of your house’s cost saved.
4. Long Term Thinking
You may not find your dream home in your first house. However, over time you can fix up your home until it is exactly how you want it to be. If you buy a house that is not tailored perfectly for you at first, that doesn’t mean that it will always be an ill-fitting house. Remember that the things you can’t change about the house, like its location, age, or size, are what you’re really looking at during the home buying process. If you really wanted a pool, but the house doesn’t have one, you can always add one in the future as long as there is space for it. Keep in mind how you want to grow while you’re in the home to make sure it can be a place you will love to live for years to come.
5. Don’t Pay Attention to Cosmetic Issues
Cosmetic issues are usually pretty easy to fix. Things like wallpaper, paint, or finishes are easy to change issues that shouldn’t impact your decision when it comes to buying a house. Cosmetic issues should not be taken into account in the same way that structural issues should be since they are fixable. Some cosmetic issues, like cabinetry, are a little bit more intensive to fix but are still easy enough to replace that you shouldn’t consider them a make or break in your home buying decision.
6. Ask About the Windows and Doors
10% to 25% of heat from your home’s heating system escapes through its window. This means that drafty windows aren’t just making your home less comfortable, they are costing you money on your energy bills. Check the windows in the home to see how old they are as well as how drafty they are. Doors can also be a place where heat can escape, so check the seals on the doors as well. Ask the current owners or the seller’s agent how long it has been since the windows and doors were replaced.
7. Check the Main Systems
The main systems of a home, such as the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC, are the places where you may have to end up investing a lot of money if there are issues. If there are leaks in your HVAC system, you may spend roughly one-third of your heating and cooling budget on air that will just leak through cracks in your system.
Also make sure to check for any structural issues in the foundation, which can be covered during the inspection, and ask about the roof. If the roof needs replacing, it can cost thousands of dollars to get replaced. Talk to the sellers about the roof and find out if you can work the price of any roof repairs or replacement into the cost of the house.
Make sure to also check for mold or water issues that may be in the home. Depending on their severity, it could be pricey to fix the source of the water damage or mold and clear up any of the affected areas.
Another important thing to check on is the insulation in the home. In older homes, the insulation may be as weak as old newspapers, and this means that you will lose money on your heating and cooling bills.
8. Must-Haves versus Want-to-Haves
When you are searching for your first home, there are things that you know you need and there are things that would be in the house in a perfect world. Make sure that you know the difference between these two categories because they are what really determines the kind of home you want. A few must-haves could be the number of bedrooms or bathroom you want, the location, the age of the home, or its move-in readiness. On the other hand, want-to-haves could be things like a clawfoot tub, a patio, or a finished basement. These are things that you can easily add to the home later and are not necessities as soon as you move in.
If you are buying your first home, keep these tips in mind to make the process easier. Finding your perfect first home may not be a perfectly smooth process, but in the end you will find the perfect place to live.