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Rookie Mistakes to Avoid as a First Time Home Buyer

Here's some helpful tips as you navigate the home buying process for the first time

Buying a home for the time is an exciting process. However, erring on the side of caution is in your best benefit to ensure you’re receiving the best deal possible. Here are some helpful recommendations to keep the first-time buying process moving smoothly and effectively.

Try and keep your expectations realistic, especially when it comes to emotional attachment. Buying a home can be an oddly unpredictable experience. Up until a certain point in the process, if a home seller decides to change their mind, they’re often within their legal right to do so. Many first-time homebuyers fall victim to seeing a home and believing it’s the one right off the bat. Whereas a more seasoned buyer may weigh the options, knowing there are usually tradeoffs to the purchase of any given home. If you lose out on a home due to a competing offer, or the deal falls through, it’s okay to be discouraged. However, keep in mind that there are multiple options to choose from, and the right house may be just around the corner.

Looking at homes online can be a good way to get a baseline read for your wants, but it’s best to let a real estate agent choose what you view in person. First time buyers may be eager to hop online and see what’s on the market. In doing so, you may see a property that looks like the perfect one for you. While online shopping can be helpful for gauging what exactly it is you want, be wary that when you look online, you’re missing certain contextual information. For example, you may not be familiar with the neighborhood. The home may be significantly overpriced for where it’s located. Good pictures can be deceiving, and the house may look significantly different in person. Additionally, realtors have access to homes that haven’t hit the market yet. If you see a home that’s been on the market for a significant amount of time, there’s usually a reason to why this is, and in many cases, it’s because of pricing issues.

Do yourself a favor, even before you begin the “shopping” process, and find a reputable real estate agent. When it comes to real estate agents, not all are created equally. There are multiple ways to ensure you hire a reputable realtor who will have your best interests at heart. A good starting point is enlisting the help of your friends and family members who have recently moved, or move often. Who did they use as a realtor? Online review sites are also a great resource, and ratings for certain agents are a simple click away. A reputable agent should listen to you, and learn your wants and needs for homeownership. At the same time, they should keep you grounded, and be honest and communicative through the entire process about unrealistic expectations. A seasoned agent will be able to tell you when your expectations may be too high.

Rinse and repeat the vetting process for mortgage lenders. Much like real estate agents, certain lenders and bankers are better than others. You can use some of the same criteria and research skills that you used for finding a proper realtor. Your realtor may also have their own suggestions for a mortgage broker. For first time homebuyers, finding the right team can significantly alter the experience for the better.

Double check that your ducks are in a row when it comes to finances. Before going through the process of buying a home, you will want to double check that your financial standing is favorable. Jumping the gun before you are financially secure is a gigantic oversight. If you still have significant debt that needs attending to, or don’t have money for a down payment in your ideal price range, you will want to address these issues before moving forward. If you find yourself needing to save up for a few more years, there’s no harm, no foul, in doing so. It’s better to be prepared and ready down the road, than to make a costly mistake in the moment.

Apply for a mortgage first and then shop later. If nothing else, avoid this mistake that may cause you excess stress. Applying for a mortgage before shopping, will help narrow down your options. Falling in love with a home, only to discover it won’t fit into your budget, can seriously damage morale. By applying first, you’ll know what your exact budget is. This will also help narrow down your potential options, which can be a lifesaver in saturated markets.

Look at the bigger picture. In many circumstances, the location of your home, is just as important as the home itself. You may find a home that you’re absolutely in love with, but remember, when committing to a house, you’re also committing to the neighborhood. Make sure you like the neighborhood before making the purchase. Does it have the amenities you’re looking for? How safe is it? Will you spend half the year commuting to work? These are questions you can discuss with your real estate agent, and members of your family who are moving with you.

Speaking of agents, don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Buying a home for the first time is an exciting experience, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience stress and confusion at certain points. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: to your agent, to home sellers, to your lender, to all those involved in the process. When it comes to making a long-term financial, and personal investment, there are no silly questions.