I’m A First Time Home Buyer: What Do I Need To Know?

by Guest Author on March 18, 2014

As a first time home buyer, you likely know that buying your first house is a significant milestone as well as a large financial investment. Throughout the process, you will have a lot of decisions to make and it may seem overwhelming at times, as there are a number of things that could “pop up” unexpectedly during the process. So, before you begin your house hunt, perhaps you should ask yourself these, and other, questions to ensure you are ready to take the plunge and understand what you really need to know.

Where Should I Live?

What a house is surrounded by can be as important as what the house looks like; many individuals overlook this idea as they are more excited about the house itself than its surroundings. That said, those who are experienced in the home buying process, having purchased more than one or two properties, will likely tell you that the surroundings are equally if not more important than the house itself.

For example, some individuals may want to live near beaches, entertainment, shopping, and culture while others would prefer a more family oriented community filled with schools and nearby amenities. Another great consideration, and to quote Henry Walker Homes in Sandy, Utah,“It is important to consider local amenities, school districts, access to public transportation and job opportunities when choosing your home’s location.” Taking a drive during rush hour is a great way to find out. As most of us will look for the perfect house on the weekends, or weeknights, it’s equally important to take some time during the day or peak hours to really get a feel for what you are buying in to.

How Long Do I Plan on Living There?

Unless you plan on living in one place for at least five years, you are probably better off renting. Find a place that you are willing to commit to for several years if you can, or, have a plan.

Perhaps you are looking to get in and get out…and in that case, you might be better off with a fixer upper if you are handy enough to take on some of the tasks yourself. It’s equally important to be working with a real estate agent that you can trust and that really understands your plan. This way they can advise you appropriately with the areas you should be looking into, as well as the trends within various communities as you don’t want to lose money or have your house end up costing you more money on legal and real estate fees than it has to in order to sell it.

If you are planning to get married and/or start a family over the short term, buying a house with a little extra space and proximity to schools and amenities might the best way to go.

Whatever your situation, be up front with yourself and your real estate agent. Don’t get attached to just the house, really consider all of the factors that might come into play for both the short and long term.

What are My Housing Needs?

Before you walk through properties with a real estate agent, you need to decide how much space you need; or will need as noted above.

Talk to your real estate agent: give them a good feel for what you are like, your lifestyle and any other factors that might come into play. For example: if you have cats, dogs, or other pets, a big yard might be more important to you than a big house and it’s something that they should know. Or, if you like to entertain or consistently have guests staying over, a larger driveway, parking and a spare bedroom might be on top of the list. The more that your real estate agent knows about you, the better! This way, you’re not just looking at houses that you might fall in love with but won’t be functional. Give them a good feel for what you are like and even develop a top-ten or house buying check-list list prior to interviewing potential real estate partners.

What can I Afford?

This is one of the most important steps to take before doing anything. You need to establish a realistic budget that you can work with, so that you are both comfortable with the amount you will spend as well as the amount you will need to finance.

One of the quickest and most popular ways to is to use an online mortgage calculator that will help you estimate the monthly payments, based on your down payment, so that you know your maximum price point and can communicate that with your real estate agent.

Should I Buy an Existing House or Build a New One?

There are pros and cons to building a new house versus buying an existing one. When you have a house built to your specifications, you get to move into a house that looks just the way you want it to. Plus, all your appliances and fixtures will be under warranty if you buy them new.

On the downside, new construction can take a while and require a down-payment well in advance of even starting to build. It can be a longer process and you might need to find a place to live in between.

And, because new construction takes time, you might find yourself living without landscaping and final touches for a while, as well as spending extra time working with contractors and reviewing plans versus decorating and making a house feel like a home.

If you are a hands-on type of person, building a new house might be for you. However, if you want to move into a house sooner rather than later and perhaps spend more time customizing an already existing home, perhaps buying an existing house is a better option.

If you are a first time home buyer, these homebuyer tips should be helpful in your decision making process.

Article and insights provided by Hannah Whittenly.

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