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10 Tips For Buying Your First Home

You regret buying those steaks the butcher had on sale.  All fat and gristle. It’s a little painful but a lesson learned. You’ll pay the extra money for a better cut next time.

It seemed sexy at the time.  But with a baby, buying the two-seater Corvette ZR1 now seems like a bad idea.  The insurance is killing you, and you hardly drive it. Time to sell…maybe for a loss.  It’s painful.

It’s one thing to buy the wrong cut of meat or even the wrong car. Those aren’t life-altering bad decisions. But what if you buy the wrong house?

Your one child has grown to three. The problem is, you only have two bedrooms. The school district isn’t so good either. How can you sell it with a leaking roof and an old furnace?  The pain is excruciating, and the financial hit might be too.

First-time home buyers often worry they are making a huge mistake and getting saddled with a home they no longer want or can afford. Usually, buying a home is one of the best financial decisions you can make. Read our tips to make sure you are buying the first home that’s the best home for you for years to come!

Buying Your First Home

Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage Loan

The very first step is to get pre-approved (not just pre-qualified) for a mortgage loan.  Use a mortgage calculator for a quick estimate of payments.  Getting pre-approved means you have the assurance that your credit and loan are already approved, and all you need to do is pick out the house of your dreams. In a hot seller’s market, being pre-approved is not an option but a necessity.

Know What You Can Afford

There is a difference between what you get pre-approved for and what you know you can actually afford. You may technically qualify for an $1800 a month payment. But you also need to do your own budget to make sure $1800 won’t strap you.  Mortgage lenders will approve you for the very most they can. That doesn’t mean it’s wise to go to the top of your budget.

Research Areas

Once you know what you are pre-approved for and what you can realistically afford, look in areas that fit your budget. Check out our page to research the best neighborhoods to live in DC. Sperling’s Best Places has ratings and information on everything from climate and schools.  Once you narrow down the neighborhood that’s perfect for you, life becomes much easier.

Find a Realtor

Now, find a realtor who is an expert in the area that you want to buy. Nothing beats experience and knowledge of the local market! Talk to one of our realtors for more information.

Buy for Five Years in the Future

Don’t buy it for today. Look out at least five years to make sure a home fits your growing needs.  Typically, you must own a house for three to five years for it to make financial sense. Selling a house six months after you bought it is not financially sound. Buying a two-bedroom condo when you really need three bedrooms and a yard just doesn’t work.  Trust us.

Do Your Homework

Talk to the neighbors and visit the area on the weekends and during the week at various times. Look for visible defects and always have a professional inspection done.

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Remember the movie “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks?  Yeah, it was funny. But not when it happens to you. Don’t underestimate the time, effort, and money it will take to repair a real fixer-upper.  Look for a home well within your time, skills, and patience.  This leads us to the next tip…

Get Qualified Estimates on Repairs

Get estimates on repairs you aren’t comfortable doing.  Even if you are comfortable doing it, get estimates. This way, you know for sure what you’re getting yourself into.  Later you can decide what you can do and what you want a professional to handle.  This will go a long way to lowering your stress.

Prepare for Extra Expenses

Insurance, taxes, HOA fees, unexpected repairs are often more expensive than imagined. Be prepared and have a cushion in case of extra expenses. Always ask before you sign a contract about ALL the fees associated with the home.  You don’t want unpleasant surprises at closing.

Don’t Get Emotional

Home buying is hugely emotional. Don’t allow overheated emotions to overcome what should be a logical decision. The real estate market comes and goes in waves.  Patience always wins the day. Call us today and see how we can help you buy your first home as stress-free as possible!

Being clear-headed and keeping your cool will help you avoid buyer’s regret or a wrong decision!

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One Response to “10 Tips For Buying Your First Home”

  • Great tip about how you should own a house if you plan to be there for 5 years. I’ll have to consider getting a realtor to find a house for me in Detroit. Nvm, I should find a house in Dallas.

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