Buying your first home at any age, even at the average U.S. age of 33 years old, can be time-consuming and stressful. Follow these practical tips to reduce your stress and make your first home purchase easier:
Determine your budget and stick to it.
Start by using an online mortgage calculator to determine the maximum monthly payment you can afford. This figure will be based on the price of the home after you apply a down payment for a 30-year-mortgage. Don’t forget to include maintenance costs and property taxes in this figure. Enlist your mortgage loan officer as a free professional to help you arrive at your targeted budget figure.
Make a list of non-negotiables.
Share this list with your agent so she shows you homes that are a match for your must-have list. View homes that are both above and below your budget to see how values differ with features and location. Reevaluate your list as you gain a better sense of what’s out there and what is really important to you.
Use an agent.
Start by asking friends and family who live in your area of interest for recommendations for an agent. A good agent has knowledge of the area and current market conditions that will streamline your search. Your agent will be in your corner from start to finish and her experience will help connect you to qualified loan officers and real estate attorneys that will ultimately aid in the process until closing.
Don’t skimp on house hunting.
Take time to visit as many houses as you can until you have a clear sense of what you’d like to purchase. Visit several neighborhoods to get a feel for traffic flow and proximity to places you frequent like a grocery store, school, restaurants, etc. Allow your agent to work for you to set up showings that match your wish list and then set aside the time to look at them all.
Don’t forget about closing costs.
Closing costs, which don’t include your personal packing and moving costs, can vary widely. Common costs include the price for hiring a real estate attorney to look over your buyer-seller agreement and a home appraiser to evaluate the home before the sale. Don’t forget mortgage insurance and fees, homeowner’s insurance, property taxes and recording fees as closing costs to factor in. Your agent’s commission is paid by the seller, and not by the buyer, so allow your realtor to help you in as many ways as she can during your home search.
Find a professional, experienced agent in your target area and get your home search started.