5 Mistakes to Avoid As a First-Time Homebuyer

The prospect of buying your first home is both exciting and nerve-wracking. On one hand, owning your own house is the final step of financial independence. You’re no longer accountable to a landlord and their rental agreement. On the other hand, buying a home is a huge financial decision that will determine where you live for the next several years.

As a first-time buyer, there’s a lot to learn about buying a house. You’ll often hear homeowners say, “I wish I knew that before buying this house.” So, in this article, we’re going to give you some common mistakes that first-time buyers make so you can have the best possible experience in the home buying process.  

1. Underestimating the costs

When first-time buyers get preapproved for a mortgage, they sometimes see this as permission to spend whatever amount they’re approved for. However, even after closing costs, there are a number of other expenses you’ll need to account for in your budget.

You’ll be responsible for maintenance, utilities, taxes, and repairing things when they get old. If all of your money is tied up just paying your mortgage and other bills, you won’t have anything left over to maintain your house.

Furthermore, living your life just to make your mortgage payments is draining. Instead, buy a house that gives you enough room to save for retirement, vacations, a family, or whatever else you see in your future.

2. Prequalify first

Before you start shopping for homes, make sure you meet some basic prerequisites. You’ll need a solid credit score, steady income history, and money saved for a down payment. You might set yourself up for disappointment looking at homes that are outside of your spending limit if you don’t get prequalified first.

3. This probably isn’t your last home

While it’s okay to dream about the future, don’t set unrealistic expectations for your first home. You can always upgrade later on, and building equity in your first home is a good way to help you do that.

4. Don’t get too attached to your “dream home”

So, you’ve been shopping around for a few weeks and finally found the perfect house. If everything goes well your offer could get accepted. But if it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. There are constantly new houses appearing on the market, and there’s a good chance you’ll like one even more than this one.

5. Don’t waive contingencies without good reason

Contingencies are there to protect you. They might seem like a way to needlessly complicate a contract. Or, you might think that waiving them makes you look better in the eyes of the seller. However, both sellers and their agents know that contingencies serve an important purpose.

The three main contingencies you’ll want when buying a home are an appraisal contingency, financing contingency, and an inspection contingency. Unless you’re buying under special circumstances, you’ll want to keep all three in your contract. 

How To Find The Right Price For A Home

When you’re shopping for a home, it’s easy to be overzealous in your attempt to find the perfect property. One of the biggest regrets of home buyers is that of paying too high a price for their dream home. There should be a balance between cost and the right property for you. No matter what kind of house you’re looking to buy or where you plan to buy it, a little planning goes a long way to help you get the most for your dollar when buying a home. Below, you’ll find some tips to help you avoid the dreaded mistake of overpaying for a home.

 Look For Amenities That Increase Value

Does the neighborhood you’re looking to buy in have a lot of cool perks? Perhaps the property is close to the heart of downtown or close to one of the most desirable schools in the area. These features add value to the home based on the demand in the neighborhood. 

You should also consider if the neighborhood is known as what’s termed “up and coming.” The potential that a neighborhood is also a factor in the price of a home. Is there a lot of construction going on in the area? Is the home you’re buying in a great area but considered a “fixer upper”? High potential properties in desirable areas can actually give you a bargain. A nice property in an area that is still being established can also be a bargain but beware. You may end up paying a higher price as sellers and developers understand that people are eager to move into the neighborhood. Also, if a neighborhood seems to be built up too much, it’s not a good sign. An overdeveloped area can lead to decreased property values over time.         

Inside the home, look for things that have been updated to increase the value of the property. An updated kitchen and bathroom add the most cost to a home as these are the most expensive rooms to renovate. Other perks in a home that greatly increase the value include new flooring, new roof, being situated on a cul-de-sac or dead end street, and easy access to highways and main routes.  

Know That Some Features Decrease Value

Things like power lines, poor economic growth in the community, high-traffic areas, foreclosures, and unkept homes can all drag down the value of a property. If you happen to be looking in one of these areas, understand that you shouldn’t be paying top dollar for a home there. Look for bargains. Whether you plan to stay or simply flip a property, you need to know at what point the price will be right without overpaying for the home.    

Your Guide To Home Buying As An Unmarried Couple

Unmarried couples often find themselves surprised at the additional steps it takes to buy a home compared to their wedded friends.

This guide will help you prepare for buying a home together as an unmarried couple:

Banks will assess you differently than they would a married couple.

Whereas they look at a married couple as a single financial unit, you and your partner will be assessed individually. This certainly has its pro’s and con’s. Know that if one partner has a significantly lower credit score it can affect your eligibility for a loan as a couple.  

Legal ownership of the title will be different.

Unmarried couples have three options when it comes to title ownership: sole ownership, joint tenants and tenants in common.

Tenants in common is the most popular. The difference between tenants in common and joint tenants is this:

  • In a joint tenancy ownership is 50/50. If one partner were to become deceased, ownership of their half of the property would carry over to the other partner.

  • Tenants in common ownership can be disproportionate to reflect each partners level of investment.  If one partner were to become deceased, their living trust would inherit ownership of their portion of the property if another option is not otherwise specified in their will.

  • Sole ownership is just that. One partner owns full legal ownership of the property. This option can have tax benefits and increase your financing eligibility if one partner has a higher income or better credit score than the other.

It’s highly recommended for unmarried couples to sign a property, partnership or cohabitation agreement when buying a home together. This is a legal precaution to safeguard both partners in the future should anything happen.

If your finances are separate it is ideal to at the very least create a joint checking account from which to draw the down payment and mortgage installments. This is especially true if both partners are contributing to these payments. It create a clean, clearcut payment process each month.

Know each other’s finances.

Discuss your credit scores, debt burden, savings, investments and financial goals. Get clear on where you each stand and how these factors will influence your buying process. Create a budget together as a couple to ensure you can take on not just the responsibility of a mortgage payment but also closing costs, homeowners insurance, property taxes and maintenance costs. Plan for savings like retirement, nest egg, family planning, future vacations, and emergency funds.

Buying a home together as an unmarried couple is a different process than that of married couples. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be harder. With an understanding of what to expect ahead of time and a plan in place, the process can be a smooth one.

How to Enjoy a Fast, Successful Homebuying Experience

Let’s face it – all homebuyers want to enjoy a fast, successful property buying experience. Yet transforming this vision into a reality can be difficult for first-time and experienced property buyers alike. Lucky for you, we’re here to help you streamline the homebuying journey.

Now, let’s take a look at three tips to help you enjoy a seamless homebuying experience.

1. Understand the Challenges Associated with Pursuing a Home

Planning ahead for the homebuying journey generally is a good idea. That way, you can identify potential homebuying hurdles and resolve these issues before they escalate.

Oftentimes, it helps to craft a homebuying strategy. This plan enables you to map out each stage of the homebuying journey, and by doing so, prepare for any challenges that may come your way.

You also may want to create a list of homebuying criteria. This list will make it simple to narrow your house search, and as a result, ensure you can discover your ideal residence without delay.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

You know you want to purchase a house, but you still have no idea about how you will pay for a residence. Fortunately, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can enter the real estate market with your finances in order.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can explain the differences between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and help you determine which mortgage option best suits your individual needs.

Furthermore, you should review all of your mortgage options closely. Because if you understand your mortgage options, you can make an informed mortgage selection that will serve you well for years to come.

3. Hire an Expert Real Estate Agent

If you want to simplify the homebuying journey, you should hire an expert real estate agent. In fact, with an expert real estate agent at your side, you can get the help you need to quickly and effortlessly make your homeownership dream come true.

A real estate agent is a homebuying professional who is happy to share his or her expertise with you. Therefore, if you have any concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent can respond to them immediately. And if you are uncertain about how to proceed at any point during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent can offer data-driven recommendations as well.

Let’s not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent can provide when you decide to submit an offer to purchase a home too. At this time, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive homebuying proposal. And if your offer is accepted, a real estate agent will help you finalize your house purchase. Or, if your proposal is rejected, a real estate agent will help you reenter the real estate market.

Take the guesswork out of acquiring your dream house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can boost the likelihood of enjoying a fast, successful property buying experience.