Why First-Time Buyers Should Work with a Real Estate Agent
One of the first steps a first-time buyer should take is to find an experienced real estate agent to work with. While they may do their own research and even visit open houses, they will want the guidance and support that comes from having an agent by your side. You can meet an agent at an open house or through recommendations of friends and family. This person should be someone who is dedicated to helping you find your first home, and someone who offers sound advice.
The Steps to Buying a Home
Many buyers think they have only to select a property to buy, be approved for a loan and sign some papers before being handed a key. While this may be the basic idea to the process of purchasing a home, it’s actually much more complicated. It’s helpful for first-time buyers to understand the different steps to buying a property and their role throughout that process.
Once buyers are prepared for what happens first and next, and last, they can help everything move along on time without as many complications. The below power point presentation will help you understand what you have to look forward to.
How to Find a Real Estate Agent
One of the first decisions you’ll make is who your real estate agent will be. This decision will impact the entire home-buying process, so you want to take your time. Many buyers go with someone a family member or friend recommended, but you want to make sure your personality and your agent’s personality fit well together. They should be someone who understands you and knows what you need – sometimes even when you don’t know.
You can meet agents when you tour open houses. Of course, choosing an agent who is selling a home you like may not always be in your best interest. On the other hand, you may find you really like the agent even though the home isn’t right for you.
Another option is to follow a few realtors on social media. Check out their website and get to know them. Meet with more than one agent and ask them questions even as they ask you about your goals in buying a home. Don’t discount gut instinct. Sometimes you just know when an agent isn’t right for you or when they are a person you want to work with.
How to Find the Right Home for Your First Home
Today’s homeowners don’t stay in the first house they purchase. Many times, they move again in five to ten years when they’ve outgrown their home. Some stay even less time than that. However, many first-time buyers make the mistake of shopping for a home as if they will spend the next thirty or more years in it. They expect it to be perfect.
First-time buyers should sit down and figure out what they want in a home so they don’t waste time looking at properties that aren’t the right fit. Here are a few guidelines to help you decide what kind of home you need:
- Know your budget – it shouldn’t be a lot higher than what you’re paying in rent unless you have been putting away a lot extra each month in savings
- Know your location – the perfect home won’t seem so great if you don’t like the location
- Start with the basics – minimal number of bedrooms you need for the people in your household moving
- Consider deal-breakers – this may include not having a second bathroom or a main-level laundry room; allow yourself no more than three of these
- Add in your wants – make a list of features you’d really like to have and list them by priority
While you may find you change your list after touring a few homes, at least this will give you an idea of where to start.
Show your list to your agent and get their reaction. They will tell you if you’re being unreasonable about some of your items. They can tell if some of your features won’t fit in your budget and location.
How to Create an Amazing Offer
You’ve found the home of your dreams. Now, what do you do? You have to put in an offer to the seller, hoping they will accept it and you’ll be beginning the process to buy your first home.
If you’re buying a home in a seller’s market, you’ll likely be competing against other buyers who also want your dream home. To beat out the competition, you’re going to have to make an attractive offer that sellers will fall in love with.
- Get pre-approved – sellers want to know you can actually buy their home
- Don’t negotiate too far on the price – realize you may be competing against someone else who will pay full price
- Don’t ask for a lot of special requests – this includes a later closing date or special items in the home, keep your offer simple and straightforward
- Consider a higher escrow amount – money talks and putting in an offer with a higher escrow payment will make sellers take you seriously
- Be flexible – if it’s the seller who needs flexibility, such as with the closing date, be willing to give it
Listen to the advice of your agent. They know a good offer when they see one, so be open about their recommendations. A strong offer can help you stand out against other buyers.
Introduce yourself. Consider writing a letter to go with the offer that explains who you are and why you want the house. Let the seller feel as if they know you and it will be much harder to turn you down. Sellers are attached to their homes even if they are selling, and they want to know the next owner is going to love it as much as they did.
Condos and Townhouses vs. Single-Family Homes
Many people begin looking at single-family homes when they want to buy. It’s considered the traditional home, especially for those who want to raise a family. However, it can be more affordable to purchase a condo or townhouse for those on a limited budget.
A condominium may be the right choice for you as a first-time buyer if you want to buy into an expensive part of town. Because you are only buying a unit rather than a piece of land, your purchase price will be cheaper. A condo is ideal when the perfect location is out of your budget for single-family properties.
Another time you should consider a condo is if you will have limited time for maintenance or you don’t want that responsibility. You may not have to mow a lawn or take care of any exterior repairs. This reduces the time and money your new home will require.
One of the downsides of owning a condo is the association fees you have to pay. Many newer associations charge several hundreds of dollars each year, but this replaces much of the maintenance you would be responsible for if you chose a single-family home.
A single-family home is the preferred choice if you’re hoping to build equity and plan to stay for a long time. In many cases, single-family dwelling increase in value faster than a condo. It can be easier to get a loan as well since you don’t have to be approved by an association and jump through other hoops.
If you like to do renovations or remodeling projects, you may prefer a single-family home. Most condos have special rules about what you can and can’t change. You want to think about the rules you’ll have to abide by before deciding to move into a condo. Of course, you may have similar rules in a single-family home if you also live in a homeowner’s association.
If you’re interested in one type of home and not finding your property, consider checking out places in the other category. You never know when your dream property may look different than what you imagined in your mind.