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10 things to consider before buying your first house

Buying your first home is one of the most exciting times in your life and also a large investment. Before purchasing take these 10 things into consideration.

Buying your first home is one of the most exciting times in your life. Maybe you’re looking for a low-maintenance option or want to tap into your inner Joanna Gaines and put in some sweat equity. Either way, take everything into consideration.

  • Start with a realistic home budget and contact a mortgage broker - always get pre-approved prior to starting the search for your dream home. Don’t believe the mortgage estimates built into the various listing sites - these often take into account average APR, PMI and insurance rates and are not an accurate reflection of what you might be paying.

  • Figure out your long term goals. A condo surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city might seem great right now, and maybe you’re up to moving if and when you’re ready for suburban life, but if not, consider location. It can take a while for a house to turn into a home and you want to make sure you’re happy with where you’re settling.

  • Turnkey or fixer-upper? Plenty of people have a knack for turning unattractive properties into beautiful abodes, but that doesn’t mean they have the time or drive to do it. Turnkey options generally come with a higher price tag. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for getting a better deal and putting in some elbow grease to make the space your own. Even turnkey isn’t going to guarantee the space is to your liking, so gauge what’s best for you.

  • Get together your list of must-haves. 2-bedrooms or 3? Is 1 bathroom adequate or do you need 2? There are must haves and there are wants in the home buying process so make sure you know what boxes must be checked versus what you’d like to check. Maybe you want a house that has an inground pool and 2-car garage but the house you love only has the pool with a 1-car garage - how important is stepping away from the 2nd car garage space? There’s almost always going to be some give and take.

  •  Are you OK living within an HOA? Depending on your lifestyle, you want to consider if living within an HOA is something that will work for you - or not. HOA regulations often set strict guidelines for how your property must be maintained and what it can be used for. Want to start an exotic snake business? No problem if you don’t have an HOA, but if you do, you’d need to check the regulations first within your community.

  • Market indicators. Take a look at how the market is trending. You may be better off waiting 6 months to purchase if a seller’s market is fizzling down, or you may need to jump on something immediately if inventory is low and demand is high. You want to ensure a return on your investment.

  • Your employment outlook. Make sure you’re in an employment position that is going to provide you continuous, stable income. If you are planning on jumping career fields, wait until you settle into the job before starting the home buying process. Lenders will look for stable employment, or employment within the same field over a period of time. Jumping careers and job fields will be a red flag to any lender.

  • Reduce your debt-to-income ratio as much as possible. This is going to get you the highest pre-approval loan amount possible giving you the most flexibility in landing your dream home. The more you can pay down student loan debt, car loans, credit cards - the better.

  • Look into local first-time homebuyer classes. These classes walk you through the good, bad and ugly of being a homeowner. In all, it provides a realistic look at owning a home and the costs associated with it. Given the expense of buying a home, you want to make sure you have done your homework so you can enjoy your purchase with no surprises.

  • Vet your agents before entering into an agency agreement. Make sure you are transparent on what you are looking for in your first home so they can deliver. This is the best way to ensure your agent is targeting properties that peak your interest and not wasting your time with listings that aren’t up your alley. Being comfortable with your agent is of the utmost importance, so make sure you do your due diligence - they’re in it for the long haul with you!  

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