20 tips for first time home buyers

If you want to acquire your first home and you don’t know where to start, then am glad to say you are in the right place. I have listed 20 tips to guide you as a first-time home buyer and help you avoid certain mistakes that most first-time buyers make.

Keep to these tips and you would know everything you would need to be aware of before getting involved with buying your first home. So then, let’s get down to it.

What Is a First-Time Homebuyer?

The term first-time homebuyer generally refers to an individual who purchases a principal residence for the very first time.

First-time homebuyers often qualify for special benefits such as low-down payments, special grants, and assistance with paying closing costs that are sponsored by state and federal governments.

Many lenders also offer first-time homebuyer’s incentives and special loans.

Who can qualify as a first-time home buyer?

To qualify as a first home buyer, you must be purchasing the first home you or your spouse have owned or co-owned in Australia, although there are some exceptions.

You must also move into the property within 12 months, and live there for at least six continuous months.

You must be a United States citizen or a permanent resident of the United States and must be at least 18 years old.

20 tips for first time home buyers

When getting a home as a first-time home buyer, a lot of thoughts might cross your mind and a whole lot of thoughts might not too. So, I have compiled some really helpful tips that would guide you on your journey to get your first home and live the dream.

Below are the top 20 tips for first-time home buyers.

1. Slow Down

No matter how urgent it might seem, you have to realize that there would always be a great house out there.

That great neighborhood and great yard would always have a better one. And that great deal, won’t be the last.

So, take a minute and take it slow. Buying a house is not something you would want to rush into.

This is one of the first time home buyer tips.

Read: How To Buy A House With No Money Down In 2022: 7 Legit Ways

2. Start Saving Early

Once you make the decision to get that new house, it is time to start saving up for it.

Saving up would put you in a great spot when it comes to having the down payment required to get the house and would better improve your chances of getting the loan you always wished for approved.

A typical down payment should be between 3-20 percent of the purchase price of the property.

It is also necessary that you save up for other commodities you might need after getting the new home like furniture and moving expenses.

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3. Don’t Fall for the “Rent Is Throwing Away Your Money” Myth

No matter how you look at it, renting isn’t a bad thing. You are paying to have a roof over your head and if that’s what you can afford at the moment then do that.

There is a certain flexibility that comes with renting which you might not enjoy as a home owner and not forget the mortgage payments which is basically like rent only that you will eventually own the property at the end of the mortgage.

So, properly weigh your options and payment power before you delve into homeownership. No pressure

4. Decide How Much House You Can Afford

Before you plunge headfirst into the market to search for a home to buy, ask yourself what type of home you can afford.

Don’t make this decision after checking out mortgage plans because this would make you overshoot and leave you paying off mortgages longer than you would like.

Don’t just consider the maximum you can afford to spend, think about what you would actually feel comfortable spending, and what wouldn’t reap your budgets to shreds.

5. Build an Emergency Fund

You can never go wrong with having a backup in case things go south. Having a reasonable sum tucked away for emergencies is always a great idea especially more when you own a home.

Unexpected costs could come up from basically anything like a burst pipe that you have to fix right away or a new roof you’ll have to buy because the old ones are weak and leaky from old age.

Don’t leave building up your emergency funds for later, the time to start is now.

This is one of the first time home buyer tips.

6. Check Your Credit Beforehand

Before you head off to go get yourself a mortgage loan, you might want to check and cross-check your credit to avoid any surprises or embarrassments.

Once you decide it’s time to start up your savings for a new home, it is important you go through your credit report first in order to get a clear picture as to where your credit score is currently at and help you pick the right mortgage for you.

7. Stop Any New Credit Activity

If you intend to apply for a mortgage, avoid adding anything else to your credit report until after you close.

Applying for new credits has a high chance of temporarily reducing your credit score and in the current situation you are in, a reduction in credit score isn’t such a good idea especially when your mortgage is being processed.

8. Shop Around for the Best Rates

When you are looking into mortgages, you would need to get down and busy. Research properly and thoroughly, checking out other available alternatives that might not be within your regular bank.

Interest rates can vary significantly from one lender to the next, and you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Your goal is none other than to find the lending establishment that will offer you the best deal possible with low-interest rates and closing costs. 

Read: What Credit Score Do You Need To Buy A House In 2022

9. Research Your Different Mortgage Options

This is one of the first time home buyer tips.

There are a lot of enticing mortgage options which you might find comfortable and appealing based on your preferences which aren’t the traditional mortgage options.

The conventional 30-year mortgage might be the most popular option but that doesn’t mean that you must have to make use of that option. There are alternatives most people don’t consider like the 15- or 20-year mortgages.

Some of these options come with a lesser interest rate and can be set up mortgage-free in a shorter time.

These shorter mortgages come with significantly larger payments, so it’s important to know how much room you have in your budget.

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10. Avoid Interest-Only and Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

You should be extremely cautious of pre-payment penalties and other fine print that often accompanies subprime loans. It is generally a better idea to wait until you can afford a fixed rate, traditional mortgage.

While adjustable-rate mortgages might seem like a good idea while rates are low, they can quickly become unaffordable if rates were to skyrocket over time.

As a first-time home owner, it is advisable to look into an array of homeownership programs sponsored by the state and federal government which helps homeownership be more attainable. Some of these programs that are available are:

11. Look into First-Time Homebuyer Programs

  • FHA loans: A federal program that helps individuals buy their first home with a low-down payment, even without an ideal credit score.
  • USDA loans: A federal program intended for first-time rural homebuyers, and allow for no down payment.
  • VA loans: A federal program for military veterans to buy homes with no down payment
  • Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan program: Conventional loans for first-time homebuyers to buy with only 3% down.

12. Find the Right Real Estate Agent

Having the right real estate agent can determine a whole lot in your journey to be a new homeowner. Having a good agent decides how smoothly and stress-free the home buying process would be.

A good agent can not only help you find the best houses on the market, preferably before everyone else finds them, but they can also help make the process as seamless as possible.

As a first-time buyer, a good agent can help show you and walk you through all the processes involved in owning a new home. Guiding you properly and thoroughly through each step.

The best way to find a good agent is by recommendations maybe from friends and family who recently bought homes

13. Get Pre-Approved Before You Start Shopping

Don’t start your home shopping until you have gotten a pre-approval letter in hand. Starting to shop too early can go wrong in a couple of different ways.

Firstly, sellers are going to take you more seriously if you’ve already been pre-approved by a lender.

You’ll also want to get pre-approved first so you would know just how much is at your disposal and don’t shop outside your budget. You wouldn’t want to go shopping for homes way over the amount your lender would approve.

14. Make Your Must-Have List

This is one of the first time home buyer tips.

In your ideal house, there are things that you feel are a must-have for you while some others are up for negotiations. It is important to make a list of all those must-haves.

Consider different types of homes too. Be it a single-family or a condo, then you can decide which you must absolutely have.

Consider, the internal orientation, if you want a yard, a pool space, the kind of neighborhood or district, the size of the bedroom, if there are available spaces for a home office.

Everything that really matters to you should be listed out so as you go home hunting, you can check them off your list to help you decide.

15. Decide Which Neighbourhood Is Right for You

I feel when getting a new house, the type of neighborhood matters a lot. You can find an amazing home with really good pricing but as long as the neighborhood or district doesn’t have that must-have, then it’s a bad idea to get it.

You have to pay attention to security, schools, shops, restaurants, and if the area is good for starting up a business amongst other factors.

16. Don’t Get Emotionally Attached

When trying to get a new house, it is so easy to get emotionally attached to a particular home or area. Well, I advise you not to.

No matter how hard it is, remember it’s only business and you shouldn’t let your emotions rule you. Pick based on financial capacity amongst other factors with emotions being basically last on the scale of preference.

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Always be willing to work away from a seller no matter how good the deal might be if you can’t afford it.

There is no need to get into something you would regret as long as who knows. Don’t make emotional concessions that will stretch you beyond your predetermined price range. 

This is one of the first time home buyer tips.

Read: Buying a House in 2022: A Step by Step Guide

17. Avoid Buying at The Top End of Your Budget

If you can afford $1,200 per month for a mortgage payment, you shouldn’t buy a house that would require you to pay exactly $1,200 on loan payments. Doing that would actually leave you paying for more than you initially planned.

The real number you should be thinking about when planning your monthly payment is PITI: principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. These are the four components that will make up your monthly mortgage payment.

18. Negotiate with the Seller

Negotiating is a part of the home buying process, and it comes in many different forms. Depending on the offers available, you might decide to make offers slightly below the asking price, hoping the seller would burg in their price.

You could also employ different tactics when negotiating that don’t involve bidding down the asking price. You could ask the seller to cover any necessary repairs or pick up the tab on some of your closing costs.

When negotiating, keep in mind that the way the negotiation goes depends on the seller’s market you are in.

19. Practice Budgeting with Your New Monthly Expenses

When you acquire a new house, your budgeting would change. It is advisable you practice budgeting with your new monthly expenses.

Not only will you have a mortgage payment to account for, which will include the cost of insurance and property taxes, but you’ll have other new expenses as well.

It’s likely that your utility costs will change, especially if you’re moving from an apartment to a house. Start practicing with assigning funds for those items in your budget. 

Read: 10 Places that Buy Broken Electronics in 2022

20. Have A Home Inspection

The inspection is when a professional will come to the home and look the whole thing over. The inspector will check everything from the house’s foundation to the electrical system.

At the end of it all, the inspector will put together a thorough list of everything that needs immediate attention, or anything that may need fixing in the next few years.

No matter the cost, getting an inspector is a must to help evaluate and know how much you are getting into and repairs you would have to do before the house is in a good condition. 

This is one of the first time home buyer tips.

Frequently asked questions for first time home buyer tips

Who is a first-time home buyer?

A first-time homebuyer generally refers to an individual who purchases a principal residence for the very first time.

Are you considered a first-time home buyer after 3 years?

If you have not owned a primary residence for at least 3 years then you qualify as a first-time home buyer.

Conclusion

The above tips would guide you in your financial decisions as well as other decisions you would need to make as a first-time home buyer. These 20 tips if followed would be of immense help on your journey to acquire the home of your dreams.

References

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