Buying your first house is a huge step. Buying isn’t necessarily a better option depending on your family’s finance, needs, and growth plans but it is a great option for families looking to put down some serious roots. If you are in the market for your first home, you have no doubt spent countless hours doing research online and soaking in advice from well-meaning friends and family. There’s no better way to learn about home buying than to actually experience it, but before you dive in headfirst, there are a few things you need to know.
1. Know What Your Family Needs
When you’re buying a home, you are making a long term commitment. That doesn’t mean it is going to be the place you spend out the rest of your days, but it should be outfitted for the foreseeable future. Before you start searching, you should take stock of your family’s specific needs.
Do you plan on having more kids, are you a family that loves to have people over, what school district do you want to live in, do you mind a long commute? These are all things to consider at the beginning of your search. There will be things that you have compromise on but the fundamentals of what your family requires to be happy and comfortable should always be at the forefront of your mind.
2. Only Buy What You Can Afford
There are tons of expenses associated with buying a house aside from the mortgage. In addition to things like closing costs and down payments, you should also be prepared for more regular expenses like home owner’s insurance, HOA’s, annual property taxes, private mortgage insurance (if you put down less than 20%) and utilities. While you should certainly make sure your monthly mortgage payments are doable, don’t forget to factor these other things into account.
You can lessen the blows of the up-front costs by building a substantial savings dedicated to buying your home. With the reoccurring expenses, you should remember to stay within your means and make a budget that allows you some breathing room.
3. You Have To Have Patience
After you’ve done all of your research, set a budget, and possibly gotten pre-approved for a mortgage, the real buying process begins. Choosing a home involves a lot more than just falling in love with a home and handing over a check. While searching for a home doesn’t have to take months on end, it does require quite a bit of patience. It is inevitable that offers will fall through or get rejected. Try not to fall too in love with a house before you’re sure it is going to be yours. Keep your options open and your optimism high.
4. Know The Risks Of Fixer-Uppers
Ideally, fixer-uppers are a great idea. You can often find older homes that need lots of love for great prices in more expensive neighborhoods or get great deals on large homes if you a can undertake renovations. Fixer-uppers aren’t for everyone though- they require a lot of time, commitment, and hard work. Sometimes a project that was supposed to take a couple months goes unfinished well after six. Even worse, costs can skyrocket as you unearth much needed repairs you weren’t anticipating. If your family is thinking of taking on a house that needs some work, make sure that you can really commit or that you’re fine living in a home that isn’t perfectly outfitted to your dreams for a while.
5. Be Prepared For The Work
When you rent a home or an apartment, a large part of the tough work is handled (and paid for) by your landlord or rental company. When you own your own home, maintenance issues fall on you to fix them. For the smaller problems, it may be easier and more cost effective to attempt to fix them yourself, but for the larger ones, you will certainly have to hire outside help. Before you commit to owning a home, make sure that you are prepared to get your hands dirty every once in a while.
6. Having A Real Estate Agent Makes The Process Easier
Going without a real estate agent may be a little cheaper in the long run, but for first time buyers, the stress of going it alone is too much. Find a real estate agent that is honest, trustworthy, and skilled. It may even be best to choose someone you know, between all of the friends and family members you have, odds are there is at least one real estate agent among the bunch.