Noisy neighbors downstairs? Loud neighbors upstairs? Sick of living in mom and dad’s basement? Tired of seeing your rent payment go out every month with nothing in return? Whatever your reason for wanting your own home, taking the leap can be both exciting and daunting. Yet, it’s the American dream!
While thoughts of white picket fences and granite countertops might be dancing in your head, you don’t want to be carried off by a dream and left holding a serious bill. This is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, so instead of making an impulse buy (like that pair of designer jeans you just bought), arm yourself and become prepared. It can be the difference between years of loving your home or growing to resent it.
The first step in any home buying process is getting preapproved for a mortgage loan. This will help you determine what you can afford. It will also show Realtors and sellers that you are a serious buyer and you aren’t just looking for the fun of it. Remember, just because you’re approved for $300,000, that doesn’t mean you should spend $300,000. Estimate your monthly payment (don’t forget property taxes and home owners insurance), and then take a realistic look at your budget. If you enjoy going out to eat, traveling or have an expensive habit, or just want to build a nest egg; you may want to stay well below the maximum you are preapproved to spend.
Second, think about your goals and expectations. If you’re looking for a starter house and plan to move up within a short period, you may not need 4 bedrooms. If you plan to stay for a long time and start your family in this house, then you may want to consider 4 bedrooms. List your priorities. These will help you decide what type of home you should be looking for.
Share your list of priorities with your Realtor. Your Realtor will help guide and focus your real estate search. She will also alert you to new houses coming on the market that meet your search criteria so you can be among the first to view it and potentially put in an offer. Too many people miss out on homes they would like to see simply because they try and conduct their home search by themselves and find the listing after someone else has already put in an accepted offer.
Buying your first home is exciting, but there is a lot to think about before you start looking at homes. Prepare yourself and know what to expect. It will help the process go smoothly, and soon you will find yourself in your dream home.
By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor, Cisco Realty