10 things first-time homebuyers wish they knew

Homes & real estate
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10 things first-time homebuyers wish they knew

Homes & real estate

Here are 10 pro-tips on how to be the first-time homeowner who is prepared for all of the ups and downs of buying a house.

Buying a house may be a dream come true, but it’s not just a matter of signing on the dotted line and handing the seller a great, big check.

Like an actual dream, there are a few peaks and valleys you have to journey through. Unlike a dream, there are more than a few i’s to be dotted, and t’s in need of crossing.

Many of the complications and much of the stress, though, can be attributed to not knowing what’s to come.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at 10 things a first-time homebuyer would be well to know ahead of time.

1. Don’t Forget to Budget for the In-Between Times

It’s highly unlikely the timing will work out that you’ll move out of your apartment and into your home on the same day. So remember to set some time and money aside in case you have to cover an extra month’s rent, pay for movers, have one last garage sale, etc.

2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff When House-Hunting

A squeaky door hinge, leaky faucet, or unfortunate choice in accent-wall color don’t make for a bad house. In fact, they can make for an opportunity for shoppers who know what’s easily fixed and don’t pass on what can be a great house.

3. Get the Abstract. Make a Copy. Don’t Lose Either of Them.

What’s an abstract, you ask? It’s a summary of the history of ownership of your property. It can be quite a dry read, but more importantly, it can be vital when it comes time to sell the house.

And, of course, if you lose it, replacing it costs a lot of money (hence the copy).

4. You’ll Wish You Could Buy Three Houses

Every home shopper has a wish list. Lawn or no lawn. Second-story or single-level. Close to the Arts District. In a great school district. And on and on.

What most quickly realize is there’s no such thing as the perfect house at the perfect price in the perfect location. So what does everyone end up doing? Prioritizing.

Zero in on what you really want, then slash other items and list what would be merely nice to have.

Be aware that you may have to go through this culling process a couple of times to get it right, but it’s essential that you go through this exercise because you don’t want to be stuck with thirty years of buyer’s remorse.

5. Don’t Skip the Home Inspection

Some people think that if they don’t hear about something, they don’t have to worry about it. This is a fallacy and can lead to serious issues.

So take the time to find an excellent home inspector who has experience with your kind of home. If there’s any concern that mold may be a factor, pay for a separate mold inspection.

Worst case scenario, the inspection report details all the reasons you just dodged a six-figure bullet. Best case scenario, the work required is all DIY and gives you a reason to buy new power tools.

However, it’s important to remember that:

6. Every House Has “Issues”

Entropy is a fact and never more so than with the amazingly complex collection of wood, glass, plastic, and wiring that we call home.

Some of these may be dealbreakers, in which case it’s best to walk away clean. Others, though, are either opportunities to renegotiate the selling price, or simply the cost of doing business in a hot market.

The upshot is that an experienced home inspector will always find something to put in the report, and that’s a good thing. Better to know about a leak at the start than wake up six months later with a flooded bathroom.

7. Get Pre-Approved for Real, Not Just Online

Everybody these days likes to play “How Much House Can I Afford?” with an online mortgage calculator. But if you’re serious about building equity, you eventually have to actually contact a lender and start the process of getting pre-approved. The benefit is that you'll have more negotiating power as a buyer with this pre-approval in your pocket.

8. You Won’t Be Idle During Escrow

Whatever the length of your closing period, be ready to start filling out forms, applications, and ticking off to-do lists aplenty.

IMPORTANT: Real estate professionals are serious about their deadlines. After all, this is a transaction in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Do NOT let a deadline slip by. You could end up losing your dream house and have to start all over again.

9. Remember to Breathe

Buying a house takes time. Occasionally, it may even feel like you’re going in reverse. Especially if you lose out once or twice to faster-moving shoppers or a loan falls through, or you’re having difficulty landing just the right agent.

Smart—and successful—home shoppers know from the start that they’re about to run a marathon and mentally prepare themselves.

10. A Good Guide Is Invaluable

You probably know someone who brags about how they handled everything themselves when it came to buying their house. You may even think from the way they explain things that this is something you could handle.

What you’re not hearing about are all of the people who ended up paying more than they had to, suffering through a much longer and more arduous process than it should have been, or just giving up and staying renters.

The Internet has made our lives vastly easier, if in no other way than with access to enormous amounts of previously cloistered information, but “information” is not “experience.” And a website can’t substitute for the deep network and contacts a real estate professional can draw upon.

Want more tips to help you find your dream home faster and with less hassle? Answer a few questions here and a home lending expert will contact you!

Learn more about loan options that fit your needs at Northpointe.com/purchase