If you’re a first-time homebuyer, here are some tips that can help you navigate through the process. Top advice: get a knowledgeable Realtor and lender you can trust.
- Start saving early: When calculating how much money you need to buy a house, consider one-time expenses as well as new, recurring bills. Down payment, closing costs, and move-in expenses are the main upfront costs to consider when saving for a home.
- Decide on a budget and stick to it: Figure out how much you can safely spend on a house before starting to shop. Factor in all your monthly expenses to determine what monthly payment you’re comfortable with, including HOA fees.
- Check your credit: The higher your credit score, the better the interest rate on your mortgage. Check your credit report for errors and dispute any inaccuracies.
- Explore mortgage options: There are many types of mortgages available, including conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans. Each has its own requirements and benefits. Compare rates and fees.
- Research first-time home buyer assistance programs: Many states offer programs that can help first-time home buyers with down payments and closing costs.
- Get a preapproval letter: A preapproval letter from a lender shows sellers that you’re serious about buying a home and have the financial means to do so.
- Choose a real estate agent carefully: A good real estate agent will scour the market for homes that meet your needs and guide you through the negotiation and closing processes. Get agent referrals from other recent home buyers.
- Narrow down your ideal type of house and neighborhood. Weigh the pros and cons of different types of homes, given your lifestyle and budget. Research potential neighborhoods thoroughly, including property values, property taxes and safety considerations.
- Make the most of walk-throughs and open houses: Use all your senses and ask questions about the things you can’t see, such as the foundation.
- Don’t skip the home inspections: Understand what’s included in the inspection and ask your agent what other inspections you might need. You might want to attend so you can get a better idea of what’s going on with the house.