Buying your first home is one of the most exciting moments in life, as well as one of the most nerve-racking. It’s normal to feel anxious about such a big financial decision, but your nerves shouldn’t overshadow this exciting time. To make sure your home-buying experience is a positive one, do these five things before you buy.
Make Sure You’re Ready
The best reason to buy a home is because you want to be a homeowner and you’re financially prepared for the realities of homeownership. Unfortunately, many people buy a home because it seems like the next step in adulthood or they don’t want to “throw money away” on rent.
Of course, you need to be financially prepared. While you can buy a home with little to no down payment, doing so means paying more over the life of your mortgage. Generally, the more money you can put down, the better off you’ll be.
Credit affects financial readiness as well. Homebuyers with lower credit scores pay higher mortgage rates than buyers with impeccable credit. If your credit score is less than ideal, you may be better off spending a year or two improving it before applying for a mortgage. You can learn more about credit and home-buying from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Know Your Plans for the Future
If you’re planning major life changes in the next few years, this may not be the time to buy a house. If you move or need a bigger home, you could end up throwing away your equity on real estate commissions and closing costs. Instead, consider renting so you can remain flexible.
However, if you’re settling down into a community, it could be a great time to buy. If you’re planning to grow your family, factor future children into your decision-making so you don’t have to sell in a couple of years to buy a home with more bedrooms.
Know What You Want
Do you want a suburban home with a white picket fence, an urban bungalow, or a spacious luxury home? Do you want a home in a particular school district or within a certain radius of your office? Does the idea of a fixer-upper send your imagination running wild, or is move-in ready more your speed? These are just a few of the questions you need to answer before shopping for a home. If you’re buying a house with a significant other, get on the same page about your ideal home before calling a real estate agent.
Do Your Research
You can imagine your dream home all you want, but if it doesn’t match the local housing stock, your vision won’t get you far when shopping for a home. Research homes for sale in your area so you understand what’s available and how much it costs. In Rensselaer, NY, homes come in at a median listing price of $178,000. By determining your budget and reviewing local listings in your price range, you can develop an informed list of must-have home features.
Find a Great Agent
Once you have a plan, it’s time to find a real estate agent. For the best home-buying experience, seek out an agent who is knowledgeable about the location and price range you’re house-hunting in. If you’re shopping for a luxury home, you want an agent who’s familiar with the luxury housing stock. Have condos on the mind? Hire an agent who understands the ins and outs of the local condo associations. However, experience isn’t the only thing that matters. You also want a buyer’s agent who has your best interests at heart; this guide from PolicyGenius tells you what to look for.
After everything is done, all that’s left is planning the move. Will you hire movers or do it yourself? Will you keep your current furniture or furnish the home with a new set to match the interior design? Get these questions out of the way before closing and you’ll waste no time starting your life in your new home.
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