Walking through the door of a home that could one day be yours is an irreplaceable feeling. As you stand in the middle of the wood-paneled, orange-carpeted living room soaking it all in you can begin to see your vision for this cozy cottage unfolding right before your eyes.
Purchasing your first home is a thrill, but can turn sour if you don’t take the proper steps to foolproof your investment.
Use these first-time home buyer tips to guarantee home buying success.
1. Don’t Commit Early
Committing to purchasing a home is a big deal — and understanding the costs that come with owning a home is a task new homeowners often overlook.
Unassociated costs such as property taxes, HOA fees and homeowner’s insurance are just a few of the many expenses you will need to account for when purchasing a home.
In addition to your mortgage, map out a list of other expenses you will need to pay. Based on this list, you can determine the true costs of owning a home and evaluate if it’s the best decision for you.
2. Get a Thorough Inspection
The naked eye won’t always catch aesthetic detail, let alone structural details when completing an inspection. Before purchasing a home, pay for an inspection by a professional. Inspections cost homebuyers a minimal amount compared to the thousands you could potentially spend if you overlook a major problem such as rusted plumbing, outdated electric, a roof leak or flooding in the basement or crawlspace.
3. Secure Your Financing Before Falling in Love
The beautiful green house with tan shutters and white picket fence on 4th Street may be everything you have dreamed of since you were a child, but don’t fall in love before you know what you can afford.
Meet with a lender to discuss all of your loan options, determine your pre-approval loan amount and then begin shopping for your dream home. There’s nothing worse than falling in love and not being able to make the home yours.
4. Don’t Spend Every Dollar You Qualify for
Save money when purchasing your home, don’t spend every penny you qualify for. If you are able to negotiate the cost of the home, do so. One way to reduce costs is to compare interest rates between lenders; often this will help you lock in a better rate and save cash each month on your mortgage. By saving money when purchasing your home you will have extra cash to buy new appliances for the kitchen and upgrade your outdoor patio with a fireplace and new grill.
5. Save Money for a Down Payment
Take time to save a down payment before purchasing your home. By doing so, your offer will appear stronger to the seller and you’ll be able to have more leverage during negotiations.
6. Find Smart Money
Who doesn’t love free money? Many opportunities exist to help first-time homebuyers, from grants to nonprofit organizations. Each offers homebuyers cash toward their mortgage and downpayment. By applying for such opportunities, you can reduce the strain on your wallet; funds can also assist homeowners in making improvements to their home.
7. Make Sure Renovations Were Professionally Done
Often, it is found previous homeowners will use a cheap fix and cheap materials to cover up issues that have arisen with the home. Be sure to have all home renovations properly inspected and ensure that the materials used are of a high-quality grade. This will help you determine that they will last for many years to come. Avoiding this step when purchasing your first home can cost you in the future.
8. Reserve Some Cash for Home Improvements
Once you purchase your home, the trusty maintenance man isn’t always a phone call away. Unexpected expenses can arise at any time. Creating an emergency savings fund can help ensure you have extra cash to help offset home improvement costs, whether expected or not. The last place you want to end up is not having money to pay your bills if an unforeseen emergency happens.
9. Get the Free Minster Bank Mortgage Guide
Want some expert advice to get you started? Download the free Minster Bank Mortgage Guide: Your Path to Homeownership. In it, you’ll find:
- A step-by-step guide to the home buying process
- Documents needed for loan applications
- What NOT to do during the loan process
This blog was originally published in 2018 and was updated in 2023.