Top Tips for First-Time Homebuyers
If you’re a first-time home buyer, use the guide below for helpful hints and tips and learn how to avoid common mistakes when buying your first home in Hampton Roads, VA.
One of the first steps to buying a home is meeting with a mortgage broker or loan officer and finding out how much you can afford to pay for a home. This is an important step because they can also inform you what first-time homebuyer programs are available for you.
Here’s what you’ll need when meeting with a broker or loan officer:
- 1-2 years of tax returns for proof of income
- 2-6 months bank statements
- Any other documents of assets, properties, bonds/stocks, 401k, etc.
While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You'll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you're interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.
List of Needs & Wants
After getting Pre-Approved, your next step is to make two lists. The first should include items you must have in a home (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes - things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
Research Neighborhoods/Crime Rates/Schools
Another important step is to do your research on neighborhoods you can potentially live in. Before making an offer on a home, be sure to research the neighborhood's crime rates, nearby schools (if you have kids) and nearby businesses.
Take into consideration your wants and need lists. Does the neighborhood align with your lifestyle? You may also want to consider the future value of your home. Are the other homes in the neighborhood appreciating in value?
Find a Local Agent to Represent You
Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller. This can make your home search much easier and less stressful, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. A real estate agent can help you find homes that are in your price range and search criteria.
If you’re looking to buy a home in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, I am happy to help you find a home that fits your lifestyle and needs. Feel free to contact or email me whenever you’re ready to take your first steps to buying a home!
Keep Focused & Organized
In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:
- One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
- A list or file of the properties that your agent has shown to you.
- Paper and pen for taking notes as you search.
- A camera to snap pictures of homes you have toured to help you remember your favorites and features you really liked.
Visualize the House Empty & with your Decor
When viewing houses, are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a nice home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don't forget such essentials as:
- Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
- Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.
- Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
- You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keeping track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please email us directly at [email protected] to discuss any of these matters in further detail.