Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for a first-time home-buyer
- it's difficult to know exactly what to expect. The learning curve can be steep, but most of the issues can be resolved by doing a little homework.
Think long-term and think re-sale
Are you planning to have kids? Will you be taking care of elderly relatives? You might be planning to live in your first home for only a few years. In that case, who is your target audience when it comes time to sell the house? If you buy a house in a very bad school district or a house on a very busy street, when you are ready to sell the house, most families with children will be out of your list of potential buyers.
Make a list of items to check
is an emotional process. Ideally, you should set aside all your emotions when evaluating a house. Practically, that is impossible. Instead, make a checklist of your must-haves, nice-to-haves and other essentials. Then print copies of this checklist. Every time you visit a house, take the checklist along with you; take photographs so you can cross each item off your list. If you fall in love with the house and your checklist shows that the house has none of your must-haves, it will at least make you pause and think.
Look at ALL the expenses when you are budgeting for the house
When budgeting for the house, don't stop with principal, interest, taxes and insurance; add in utilities, cost of commuting, and upgrades. Call the utility companies that service the house you are considering and ask for an estimate of what the cost will be, whether there are any budget plans available, etc. Will the gas budget for your car go up if you are moving further away from the places you frequently visit? Budget all of these expenses and see if you can still afford the house.
Be sure to read your contract before you sign it
A house is probably the largest purchase
you will ever make in your life, so make sure you understand the terms of your contract. If you don't understand any of the terms, ask your mortgage broker and your real estate agent.
Learn about the neighborhood demographics
If you are buying a house in a neighborhood full of renters, it only takes a few bad renters or bad landlords to drive the neighborhood down fast. If the neighborhood is full of single people, will you be happy there if you have very young kids?
Look beyond the staging
The psychology does work; staged houses look far better than houses that are still being occupied. When you are considering a house, mentally try to remove the staging
. Pay more attention to the layout of the house and the structure itself. Ugly wallpaper and paint can be easily fixed later.
All the old advice about buying your first home is true
Some examples -- have an emergency fund, save for a down payment of 20 percent, get your credit into a better shape and don't buy more than you can afford.
Do you have any tips to offer first-time home-buyers? Share in the comments.