8 Pro Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

When it comes to buying your first home, what sort of advice can you expect from a real estate agent? We find that the advice professionals in real estate give to first-time home buyers is pretty consistent, regardless of whether one is looking to buy a small, two-bedroom home or something grander that can accommodate a larger family. Here are eight helpful tips that most real estate professionals give to first-time home buyers in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado or any of the other states.

  1. Select a qualified real estate agent:

    Realtors agree that finding a qualified, experienced real estate agent or Realtor should be your No. 1 priority of anyone looking to buy a home. You can begin your search for a trustworthy agent by asking family and friends for recommendations. Use the Internet to do additional research, since many real estate professionals maintain an online presence that provides detailed background information. Ask a potential agent for references and their level of experience in the neighborhoods you are interested in.

  2. Research home prices:

    It probably won’t surprise you that the majority of home buyers begin their search on the Internet. It’s easy to find the selling prices of homes in your area or whatever neighborhood you are looking at using websites like Zillow, Homegain, and Realtor.com, the site of the National Association of Realtors. Take time to do your homework before contacting a real estate agent so you have a general but realistic idea of what you can expect to pay for a home.

  3. Get pre-approved for a mortgage:

    Before heading to a financial institution to fill out a loan application, be sure you know your FICO credit score, how much debt you have yet to pay down, and your incoming and outgoing annual income. Real estate professionals also suggest you have a substantial savings to show when you apply for a loan. By pre-qualifying for a mortgage, you’ll know exactly how high your mortgage payments might be and can budget accordingly. Being pre-qualified also makes you more attractive to home sellers, since you can make your offer with pre-approved financing.

  4. Determine if you can afford a home:

    Along with your potential mortgage payments, there are many other expenses you need to account for in order to determine whether or not you can actually afford to buy a home. You need to budget for monthly expenses including property taxes, insurance, and utilities, as well as the maintenance and upkeep of both the interior and exterior of your potential home. Don’t forget to factor in closing costs and moving expenses. Compare the sum total of all of these expenses against your income. You may find that for the time being, it makes more sense to rent and build up your savings.

  5. Determine what kind of home you want:

    Knowing how much square footage you want in a home is important, but real estate professionals want you to be much more specific about the kind of house you want to commit to buying. Ask yourself, what did you like or didn’t like about the homes you lived in previously? What is your daily routine like, and how can a home help or hinder that routine? Share these details with your real estate agent so they can try to find a home for you that truly matches your needs.

  6. Look at homes:

    Surfing the net is one thing, but in order to find your new home, you’ll have to get off your butt and show up at a few open houses. Once you hire an agent, he or she will be more than happy to chauffeur you around to a few neighborhoods and homes. Bring a notebook with you and take note of the features and surroundings of each home you see in person and rate each home on a scale of 1 to 10. Bring a digital camera on your visits, but ask the current residents of any home for sale for permission before taking any photos.

  7. Have the home inspected:

    Real estate agents will strongly advise you to hire a home inspector to inspect any home you are seriously considering buying. Given that a typical home inspection shouldn’t cost you more than $450, and considering the amount of money you’re planning to spend on your new home, it just doesn’t make sense to leave out this crucial step. A home inspector doesn’t care if the home sells or not, he or she is only being paid to find problems that the home’s owner may not even be aware of. Be sure you hire a home inspector that meets the guidelines of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

  8. Make a reasonable offer:

    Some sellers are willing to negotiate, some are not. For your first offer, you’ll want to come up with a price that’s based on what other similar houses have sold for in the past six months, as well as local economic conditions. Work closely with your agent to be sure you make an offer that’s reasonable and that you aren’t taken advantage of.

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