Buying your first home? Hereís what you need to know
Youíve made the decision to make one of the largest investments youíll ever make in your life-buying your first home. Youíre excited, but at the same time anxious. Some of the questions you may be asking are: Will I be able to afford the home of my dreams? Do I have enough money for a down payment? Can I get a home inspected before I make an offer?
Rest assured, you are not alone. According to the 2000 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, first-time homebuyers accounted for 40 percent of the homes purchased in 1999. The home buying process can be overwhelming, but if you go into it prepared, your first purchase can be a good experience. Here are some things to consider before making the plunge.
Getting a mortgage - Fear of being rejected for a home loan is one of the main concerns for first-time homebuyers. To lessen the stress, you may want to get pre-approved for a loan before looking at prospective homes. This will not only help you feel more confident, it will also give you an advantage when there are multiple offers for a specific home. The fact that your loan has already been approved is of great value to the seller: because it shortens the purchase process and there is less of a chance that the buyer will back out of the sale.
Mortgage Payments - The costs involved in the purchase of a home can be overwhelming to first-time buyers. However, with the help of a real estate professional, you can calculate out how much they you be able to pay each month in mortgage payments, and from there, what prospective homes offer a feasible payment plan.
Down Payment - The down-payment amount varies depending on the value of the home you choose and your mortgage lender. And in some cases, first-time homebuyers can purchase a home with no money down. Although it varies from state to state, most offer government-funded programs for first-time buyers that help people buy a home with no down payment. Your real estate professional will be able to explain the different options available to you.
Closing Costs - First-time buyers often forget to consider the closing costs when making an offer on a home. Paying closing fees of up to 10 percent of the home sale amount is not unusual. Add that to the down payment and youíll have quite a sum to raise before the final papers can be signed. However, a smart first-time buyer takes this into account before making an offer, and with some professional help, the costs can be estimated in advance.
Making offers - Donít feel pressured into making an offer on the first home you see. This is a common mistake of many first-time homebuyers. Make sure you view different homes to get a feel for the marketplace. When you do decide on a home to make a bid on, work with your real estate professional to get all of your questions answered first before making an offer. But donít wait too long to make an offer. The longer you wait, the greater the chance other prospective buyers may place offers, making it harder for you to negotiate a good deal.
Condition of the Home - Buying a "problem" home is another fear of first-timers. A home that needs major repairs can become a costly venture. And, unless the asking price is adjusted to reflect the hidden repairs needed, chances are the home is not worth as much as the seller is asking for it. To avoid unfortunate surprises, your real estate professional may advise you to hire a home inspector before making a serious offer. That way, you know what you are getting into.
Above all, remember that there are no silly questions. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with every aspect of the transaction. Your real estate professional can be an invaluable asset in helping you make educated decisions so that your first-home purchase is a rewarding experience.