If you are in the process of buying your first home (or are thinking about it), you may feel super overwhelmed as not only are we in the middle of a pandemic (thanks a lot COVID-19) but also because it is definitely a buyers market.
You may think that during these uncertain times, it may be the best choice to simply buy the first house that is in your price range.
Buying a house can seem intimidating even without all of the above-added factors, especially if you don’t have any home buying experience. However, it is important that you find a home that you love and that is a good investment so you can sell it later on for (hopefully) more than you paid for.
To assist you with your house hunting journey during tremulous times, we have put together a guide to help you find your perfect home that is ALSO a solid investment. Please read the tips below and even bookmark this article so you can continue to use our checklist for buying a first home when looking through houses.
Here is how to prepare for buying your first home.
It doesn't matter what year it is or what is going on around you, if you are going to buy a home you need to have a realistic budget.
Your budget is the first step in determining what your starter home will look like. Experts say that your house payment should be 28% of your income or under. Try not to go far beyond that (30% max) if you can as it will be harder to make your payments, especially if you have a family and many extra expenses.
Are you looking for a family home or are you a single guy/gal? Do you need a home that’s easy to maintain or lots of acreage? Think of all of the variables in your life that will affect your home-buying process.
Think about what makes you happy:
Try to find a way to find a home that meets your needs and that also makes you happy. List out your priorities so that when you look for a home that is within the budget you can focus on getting what is at the top of your list.
Like any profession, you have to be passionate to be successful. There are some real estate agents who love what they do, while others do not. Finding the right real estate agent DOES make a huge difference when you are searching for your first home.
Word of mouth will get you so far, but you also want to check out a potential real estate agent’s online presence. If your agent doesn’t have a nice website and/or social media pages, they aren’t putting much effort into their career and it is more than likely that they aren’t serious with their clients, either.
The #1 most important aspect of a home is its location. When you think of what location you want for your home, you are thinking of important things like your work commute or the area schools.
Additionally, you need to find out where your everyday amenities (such as a grocery store) are important considerations when looking at potential homes. Do you mind driving fifteen+ minutes to get to your favorite store or would you prefer to be close to a Target/Walmart? Small details in terms of location are very important to think about.
Do you have a large family? Or is it just you and your dog?
I grew up with three siblings and we had one bathroom. It was HARD and we fought for bathroom time on a daily basis. If you have a large family, you may need several bathrooms.
However, if it is just you, you shouldn’t waste your money on multiple bathrooms and bedrooms.
Yes, there is such a thing as a sketchy or unsafe neighbor.
If you are seriously considering purchasing a house, cruising around the neighborhood and even chatting with a few of the neighbors is an excellent idea. You might also want to check the sex offender list to see if any live nearby and lookup houses in the neighborhood to see who lives there as well as other important details about your potential neighbors may give you important insight on the type of neighborhood that you are moving into.
Not everyone has children, but if you do have little ones running around you will want to get to know the area schools. Getting your child the right education is very important.
You will not only want to check out the local schools but also check their policies, bus routes, what schools are within your district (there are very blunt cut-off lines in most cases) etc. You can also check a school's ratings, reviews and test scores on Great Schools.
Once you are serious about a property, make sure to check its value so you know that you aren’t getting a bad deal on the property you are thinking about purchasing. There are several websites that have property value information, such as Zillow or Address Scoop.
The best tip I can give you when searching for your first home is to look closely at the home's foundation. It’s pretty simple to do a foundation check or have an inspector do one for you.
You want to make sure to check for things like:
Besides inspecting the foundation, you need to inspect the rest of the house (but do it quickly). This is also a very important home buyer tip.
If you want to inspect your dream home before buying it, make sure to do it as soon as possible. You need to have it inspected before an offer is made. Again, the foundation is important to look at. Also, check the roof, check to see if anything is rotting, any structural issues, and check for anything that will need to be replaced soon (such as the windows or driveway).
Be realistic on how much this will cost you, and your realtor can probably give you a ballpark guess if you don’t have the time for an inspector to come through.
If you are anything like most people, you don’t want to be scammed or disappointed with your first home purchase. Freely use the above tips when looking for your first home and make sure to celebrate after buying your first home (and hopefully these tips helped you during your home buying journey).