FIRST TIME HOMEBUYER TIPS
The American Dream is to own your own property in this great country, and buying your first home can be exciting but also scary! What should you do? Who should you talk to? Are you forgetting something? Most likely you are!
Aside from picking the right real estate agent, here are some tips for first time home buyers as you go through this wonderful journey of finding your dream home.
1. How much can you afford?
Before you start looking at homes, the first thing you should know is how much you can afford. The last thing you want to do is get your heart set on a home, only to find out you can’t afford the payments to the home. Take a serious look at your monthly budget and make sure to include:
How much you spend on groceries
Cell phone bill
Internet and cable
Dry cleaning bills
How much you spend eating out
How much you spend shopping
While some of the items listed above might seem silly to include, if you know you’re a big shopper or that you eat out a lot, it’s important to know how much of your monthly income is being spent towards that. Then, deciding whether you can make adjustments to your spending habits to give you more room for your mortgage payment. Also, make sure to factor in the cost of home-related expenses such as insurance, increased utility bills and the occasional home repair bill.
It would also be wise to check your credit. If there are mistakes on your credit report, you have some time to correct them. Remember that your credit score has a lot to do with your loan approval and what type of loan and rate you will get.
If those numbers aren’t giving you a positive feel, use this as a starting point to adjust your spending habits and revisit this again.
2. Consider getting pre-approved with your lender.
One common mistake with first time home buyers is not knowing the price range of what you can afford. You may find the perfect house, but you’re only approved for 75% of the sales price. Unless you’re able to make up the difference, you won’t be able to purchase it.
Meet with your local loan officer and let them tell you what you’re approved for. That way, you can narrow down your search and skip looking at houses that are above your price range. Also, seller’s and their agents like to know that you’re serious and the pre-approval letter is a way for them to confirm it.
Make sure to also ask about any first-time home buyer programs that are available.
3. Prioritize your needs and wants.
Sure, we all want the best amenities when it comes to our home–granite counters, hardwood floors throughout, living in the best school district. It’s important that you distinguish between what you must have versus what you want.
You can take a list with you to each house to help narrow down the options. Make sure to include things that aren’t a part of house but are still important such as the neighborhood, school district and commute time to your job. It would also be a good idea to jot down notes for each home. Write down what you like and what you didn’t like, that way, if it comes down to a few options, you can compare each home from your notes.
Other things to consider during this step:
Size of the home
How many people will live in the home?
Home many rooms do you need?
Do you need a home office?
How many parking spaces do you need?
Do you want a fireplace?
Do you want your own pool?
Do any of the members of your household need special housing needs?
Are you looking for energy saving features?
Do you want to live in the city, a surrounding town, or maybe by the water?
Do you want to be close to any certain areas? or people?
What kind of neighborhood do you want to live in?
Do you want sidewalks?
Do you want an area with low traffic?
Does your neighborhood have an active HOA? How much are the dues?
What condition are you looking for? New or with few owners? Or a renovation project?
Are there any repairs that need to be done immediately?
What is the status of the roof? Plumbing? Electrical?
How much yard maintenance will you have?
4. Don’t get discouraged and be patient!
Don’t get discouraged if you haven’t found your perfect home or if the seller doesn’t accept your offer. Often times, buyers rush into their decision and have buyer’s remorse afterwards. Take your time and be patient.
Buying Your First Home in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida
When buying your first home in the Jacksonville area, consider these tips before you make an offer. Speak with your experienced agent at HomePro Realty for more tips and information on the home buying process. We are so excited for you during this time and we will do everything we can to make this process as smooth and easy! Contact us today to get started.