5 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home is an exciting milestone in life, but it can also be intimidating. You have to learn all the real estate lingo, spend months searching for “the one,” and then sometimes wait several more months while you negotiate a price and finish all the paperwork.

But if you’re a first-time home buyer, it doesn’t have to be difficult, because there are a few tips that will make the process smooth and painless.

  1. Find an Experienced Real Estate Agent

If you’re buying your first house, it’s best to have someone who knows what they’re doing by your side. The real estate industry is a confusing one, and even simple mistakes can cost you thousands of dollars.

A qualified real estate agent can guide you through each step of the process while helping you understand what to expect at each stage. They can also handle the paperwork and negotiate a fair price for you, making your job much easier.

  1. Check Your Credit

If you’re planning on obtaining a loan, you’ll need to check your credit score to make sure you qualify. There’s no hard number that will guarantee qualification, since each individual case is different, but, obviously, the higher your score, the better.

There are also a few first-time home buyer programs that help buyers by offering lower interest rates and down payment assistance, and a good credit score can help you qualify. So be sure to check with your mortgage lender to see if you qualify for any of these programs.

  1. Balance Your Budget

Before you decide to buy a home, make sure your budget allows for it. The upfront costs of purchasing a house can be significant, from the down payment to commissions to closing costs and more, so be sure you’ve saved enough to cover it all.

Also be sure to determine how much you can afford each month in payments by using a mortgage calculator. You’ll also need to factor in other possible costs, including homeowners’ association fees, insurance, and household repairs.

It’s a good idea to track every dollar you spend for a few months to be sure you can afford a few more expenses, because the last thing you want is to invest all your money in a home and then realize you can’t afford the upkeep.

  1. Gather the Paperwork

There’s a lot of paperwork involved in buying a home, and it can be daunting for a first-time home buyer.

Mortgage lenders will typically require the last two months of bank statements, the last two years of W-2s, your tax returns, and two of your recent pay stubs. That’s a lot of paperwork to sort through, and it’s far less stressful to get it out of the way early than to be scrambling right before you leave to talk to your lender.

  1. Calculate Your Down Payment

The down payment is one of the biggest costs involved in buying a home, and it’s typically tens of thousands of dollars.

The down payment is usually between 5 and 20 percent of the home’s listing price, but if you qualify for certain first-time home buyer programs, you could get an interest-free loan to help cover part of the cost of the down payment.

Buying your first home can be nerve-wracking, but with the right real estate agent and a little research, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a homeowner. Be sure to call your local real estate office when you’re ready to take the first step!