The hair on your neck is standing on end. Your stomach is in knots. Your forehead is sweating, and your heart is beating faster… is this a new Jordan Peele film? Nope, it’s how a lot of people feel when they think about buying their first home.
We get it. It’s daunting. So we’re here to help. Here are some no-nonsense items to check off the list when you’re looking for your very first home.
You’ve Got to Prep Those Finances
Before you can order a house, you must get your house in order. Well, your financial house, anyway. It’s important to do the math and determine how much you can afford. YES, that means making a budget that includes not only the house itself, but all the closing costs. Why? In part, so you can save toward that budget. But also so you know what you can realistically afford.
Start saving early. Every dollar you save now is a dollar that can save you big bucks over time. Also, those dollars could help in a bidding war if the home you want is in a hot market. Just don’t let your emotions get the better of you, offering up more of those dollars than you can afford!
Speaking of bidding wars, getting pre-approval on a loan means knowing what you can afford to bid on a house. So between checking out first-time homebuyer programs and pulling together that down payment (remember our savings talk?), you should go ahead and get approved for a loan. That way, you can pounce on the perfect place when you find it. In many cases, you can also lock in a good rate.
So, remember these important things about first-time homebuyer finances.
- Budget closing costs into your calculations.
- Every extra dollar in your down payment now saves you on interest both now and later.
- Pre-approval on a loan means you can move faster and lock in rates.
- Stick to your budget!
Location, Location… Yeah, You Get It
Besides the financials, finding the perfect location stresses out new homebuyers. Despite having more information at our fingertips than ever, finding “just the right” everything can seem baffling. It’s possible you may have to compromise, which is why it’s a good idea to plan ahead about the ways you are and aren’t willing to compromise.
What are your must-haves when it comes to a neighborhood? Amenities like a sidewalk or groceries nearby could be factors, or the neighborhood’s general ambience or traffic flow. Information about school districts and tax rates is available online with a simple search. An experienced real estate agent can also help you sift through all that data to match neighborhoods to your needs.
This is also a time to think creatively. What will this neighborhood look like in three years, or five years? How about ten? Usually, you can count on growth. So make an inventory of what’s nearby. You may want to look at zoning, where applicable, to understand what can be built in the neighborhood. Thinking long-term, you may realize that what seemed like a dream house is destined to be something else entirely.
With all that said, here are the most important things for first-time homebuyers to remember when it comes to location.
- Compromise is possible.
- What are your must-haves?
- What are your absolutely-nots?
- Look at neighborhoods through the lens of the future.
Don’t Go It Alone
The fact is, there are a bunch of professionals who can help you through this process. Because it very much is a process! And it’ll be a smoother, better, and more rewarding process if you take advantage of some of the help that’s available.
From lenders to real estate agents to civil servants to online resources, there’s a veritable army available to help guide you each step of the way, helping you finding your perfect home at a price you can afford. Pick people you get along with who understand your needs. And make sure they’re willing to listen to and heed which items you’ll compromise on, and which ones you won’t. After all, in the end, you’ll be the one living with your decisions. So it pays to make the best decisions you can.
Prepare for Greatness
All in all, remember - You’ve totally got this. You’re educating yourself, thinking ahead, and taking smart actions to prepare for the home-buying process. You’ve got no reason to be scared. So leave those chills and cold sweats for the movie theater. You’re the hero in this story!
Once you’ve found that perfect home, protect it! Covered’s team of expert insurance advisors will help you find the right coverage at the best price. Give us a call at (303) 302-9927, send us a message, or get quotes online now.