When it comes to buying your first home, there are some steps you can take to make sure you are in the best position to make an offer when you find “The One”
I remember that feeling when I finally realized, “Whoa, I’m a homeowner!”
We had closed on our first house (which is actually the house we still live in) and had walked down the street to enjoy it a little in person. We knew the previous owners personally, so we knew they wouldn’t care if we “took a peek” at what life would be like in the coming years.
My wife and I and our oldest daughter, who had just turned one, opened the gate to the back yard and walked around in the grass with our shoes off. My daughter ran right to the playground equipment to try it out for the first time. The look of pure excitement on her face is one that I will never forget.
I get the privlege of working with First Time Home Buyers almost every week. I love being able to sit down with them and share in the excitement, and sometimes anxiousness, that comes with owning a home for the very first time.
And while the process can seem overwhelming, even to the most prepared individual or couple, there are professionals that can ease the burden and help you along the way.
There are also some steps that you can follow in order to help you be ready when you know you’ve found “The One”.
Get Pre-Qualified for a Home Loan
This should always be step one in the process. When the time has come to start the process of looking for a home, you need to see just how much home you can afford.
Getting pre-qualified can be done in different ways. And while you do have the option finding a loan online from your phone at 3:00 am if you like, I would like to make a suggestion: think local.
Find a mortgage broker in your community, maybe even two or three, and sit down with them so they can educate you about how they will help you get the house of your dreams. These brokers live where you live, and truly care about making sure they do the best for you.
But you may be asking, “Why would I get a loan for a house that I haven’t even picked out yet?”
Because you want to make sure that you are house hunting for the home you can afford. You see, if you start out by looking at homes that you like without getting pre-qualified first, two things could happen: 1.) You could be shopping for a home that is out of your price range, or 2.) You may not be able to put in a bid on the home in time and lose out altogether.
A mortgage broker will gather the financial information they need to help determing how much they can lend you. Once you know this, you are free to scour the earth to find the right home for you. This also saves you time, because you know which homes to look at, and you don’t waste time in a neighborhood that, at this time, is out of your price range.
Mortgage brokers will also have knowledge about grants that may be available to new homeowners, and can let you know how to qualify. Unless that is, of course, you don’t like a little free money…
Hire A Realtor
Working with a professional realtor gives you opportunities that you may otherwise simply miss.
Sitting down with a realtor gives you the ability to let them know what you are looking for, in what neighborhood, and at what price range. If you need to make sure it has a small man cave that is move in ready and room for a she-shed in the back yard, they can help with that.
A professional will sit down and listen to what you want and dream along with you. And they can also help guide you, and ask questions that you may have never considered before.
When discussing what clients want when they are in the process of looking for a home, Matt Meister, a realtor with Coldwell Banker Town and Country Realty, helps his clients think about their first home from a different perspective.
“One thing that first time home buyers rarely consider is the “end game”, says Meister. “When two people go out to find a house together, they sometimes find that they are having trouble coming to an agreement on which house suits them best. Frequently, this is because they have not discussed the long term plan for the future.”
“If buyers are looking for a home in which to build equity for a future move, they may want to select a home based upon their best guess for what their needs will be for the next few years, but also in a location and a condition where building equity quickly can be achieved,” Meister said.
So where would Meister suggest home buyers start when creating a vision for the future? “I suggest people create a common 20 year plan and work back from there. Keeping an eye toward the distant future can help make decisions better in the short term.”
Hire an Independent Insurance Agent
Once you have been pre-qualified, and your realtor has helped you find the house you can’t live without, it’s time to get that thing insured baby!!
Ok, so two excalmation points may be overkill, but it’s exciting!! (I promise I’ll stop). The home insurance quote is one of the last pieces of the puzzle, the very small but encouraging light at the end of the tunnel.
In all seriousness though, this part is important. We already know you have to have it, because your rockstar, amazing, local mortgage lender told you so. So make sure you have as many options available to you by choosing an independent insurance agent.
An independent agency, like Stonebridge Insurance, works with many different insurance companies, so we can find you the best coverage at the best rate.
Depending on what part of your state you live in, or even which neighborhood you live in, rates with certain companies may vary. If the home insurance is too high, you may not qualify to close on that house.
Also, while you are working with an independent agent for your home insurance, have them take a look to see if there are any benefits in having your auto insurance with the same company. Taking advantage of the Home and Auto discount can sometime be a huge savings!
And while savings are great, make sure that your insurance agent takes the time to review each quote with you and educates you on what is coverage, and what is not. This will be one of the largest investments you will make. It is vital that it is properly protected.
Closing day is pretty cool. After you finish up at the bank, you can start planning for the move. Time to pick out some new furniture, the 4K TV that will hang on the wall, the new paint color for the living room, and all the amazing things that come with being a homeowner.
Enjoy it. Take a minute to walk around in the back yard in your bare feet and imagine the possibilities of what the future holds. After all, you earned it.