Articles and Advice
Buying your first home is a big milestone in your life, but if you aren't careful, the process can cause some serious headaches. Here's what newbies wish they knew before purchasing a house.
Know what to do before you buy.
Life is filled with amazing journeys, and buying your first home should be one of its best. No matter what your budget, age, or your motivation for buying, there are a few simple steps that every first-time buyer should follow. These steps will go a long way and help you approach your home-buying journey with confidence.
Know exactly how much money you'll need to spend.
That might sound obvious, but it's actually a complex question because you need to know your budget backward and forwards before buying a house and taking on mortgage payments.
Don't leave it to your lender to decide how much house you can afford. They may approve you for a much larger dollar amount than you actually want to spend. Don't forget to take into consideration additional money above and beyond the purchase price of your home for things like a down payment, closing costs, furnishings, and repairs.
Track your expenses for a few months.
Before you start making offers on homes, make sure you've spent a few months tracking your expenses and gathering information about your debts, spending patterns, assets, and income.
How much do you make after taxes, and how much is left over? Make sure you can answer specific questions such as how much are your monthly expenditures for things like groceries, car payments, student loans, and other debts. It's better to overestimate than underestimate, but if you link your accounts to a budget tracking app, you'll have more exact figures. As a general rule, buyers shouldn't spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing costs, but those costs include insurance, taxes, interest, utilities, and other expenses after your mortgage.
Consider listings that leave room for competitive offers.
After you've figured out the highest price you can afford, lower it a little and then start looking. You may be tempted to look at properties at the tip-top of your price range, but other potential buyers may have more flexible budgets.
Even if you're not searching in a red-hot housing market, there will probably be other buyers interested in every property you consider, so try to leave room for competitive offers. But just remember: even if most houses in the area are selling over the listing price, you don't necessarily have to pay more to stay competitive. You can add escalation clauses to the contracts you submit, which means the price only gets raised if other people have higher offers too.
Congratulations on the start of this life-changing adventure. Surround yourself with experienced, trustworthy experts, and you'll be buying a house and making your move in no time.