If 2021 looks to be the year you’ll finally buy your first home, you may feel overwhelmed. Even in the best of times, buying a home is a process that requires a lot of thought, organization and guidance. And it’s easy to make rookie mistakes. Here are five things every first-time homebuyer should know as they start out:
Don’t Let the Down Payment Scare You
Yes, buying a home requires substantial financial commitment, but there are also quite a few avenues to explore if you’re worried about making the recommended 20% down payment. Your realtor and lender will have their own sound advice to share, but there are special lender programs or government assistance depending on your state. If you’re interested in more detail, check out this list.
Prepare to Compromise
You might be envisioning a single family home in the center of your favorite neighborhood for a great price, but depending on the market and your wish list, it may not be practical. Start the process with a list of your priorities, but be prepared to find a middle ground. Opting for a condo in a good school district may be worth sacrificing a home with a newly updated kitchen elsewhere.
Be Emotionally (and Financially) Ready for Surprises
A thorough home inspection is part of any buying process, and with an inspection comes a long list of repairs. It’s an inspector’s job to be extremely detailed, but you’ll want to be ready to address some of the concerns if the seller won’t budge on negotiation. Even after you close, owning a place comes with surprises. A toilet might break, your taxes may get reassessed, your roof might get damaged; financial and emotional flexibility will help tackle those issues as they arise.
Read the HOA Documents Before Closing
Odds are if you’re buying in a condo building or townhome development, you’ll have a homeowner’s association (“HOA”), and you should request the bylaws and budgets during attorney review and before you close. Look for anything that might affect your home in the future, such as the renter-to-owner ratios, planned capital expenditures or the building’s finances. Reading these sooner than later will help you decide if a place is right for you or not.
Hire a Knowledgeable Professional
We know this last one may seem obvious, but buying your first apartment, condo or home is not the time for doing things yourself. Having an experienced realtor buy your side will keep things running smoothly, not to mention you’ll have a guide for the many stacks of paperwork you’ll see in the process. The experience agents bring to the table is invaluable, especially if you’re a first timer.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer ready to start looking, our team is here to help make your experience easier.
Photo from 817 W. Washington, #205