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Top 9 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers

What is one tip that you would give a first-time homebuyer?

To help assist first-time homebuyers, we asked experienced homebuyers and insurance experts this question for their best tips. From searching for first-time buyer programs to having extra money set aside for hidden homeowner costs, there are several recommendations that may help you with buying your first home. 

Young couple view a property guided by a real estate agent. They are entering the hallway of the house and getting a tour.
Here are nine tips for first-time homebuyers:

  • Search for First-Time Buyer Programs
  • Avoid Unnecessary Upgrades
  • Don't Get Too Attached to Specific Homes
  • Make an Offer Only When You are Sure
  • Do Your Due Diligence
  • Make a Competitive Offer
  • Get a Loan Pre-Approval and Stay Within Your Budget
  • Make Sure You Have a Good Credit Score
  • Have Extra Money Set Aside for Hidden Homeowner Costs

Graphic image of men and women smiliing

Search for First-Time Buyer Programs

A first-time home purchase is often treated by local and federal governments differently from other such transactions. Different programs are often available, offering anything from a minor tax rebate to preferential mortgage terms. Checking whether you qualify can take minutes and usually save you several percent of the total cost, which can easily reach 10s of thousands. That's pretty good for 30 minutes of researching and a few hours of applying!

-Michael Sena, SENACEA

Avoid Unnecessary Upgrades

When buying a home, some upgrades are worth getting initially, if they last for at least 20 plus years. These upgrades are tile flooring, higher ceilings, adult height sinks, or kitchen cabinetry. These upgrades are items that most people obtain home equity lines of credit for after owning their home for a while. It would be best to avoid upgrading appliances, light fixtures, door handles, or even adding blinds throughout the house. These items will not last 30 years, which is the typical time for a mortgage. And these items can be upgraded later with a bit of know-how and can cost you less over time.

-Annette Harris, Harris Financial Coaching

Don't Get Too Attached to Specific Homes

If you want to find a good deal, don't fall in love with any specific home. Remain open to possibilities and be willing to compromise on certain features. Remember, the home you eventually purchase doesn't have to be perfect- it just has to have the potential to be perfect for you.

-Matthew Ramirez, Paraphrasing Tool

Make an Offer Only When You are Sure

It may happen that you have been looking for a house for a long time and you are not convinced by any of them. Faced with this desperation, it is common for buyers to buy a house on impulse to the fact of losing another opportunity. But realize that this decision will have repercussions for your whole life, and it is worth waiting a little longer before rushing emotionally and making an offer on a house you don't like.

-Natalia Brzezinska, PhotoAiD

Do Your Due Diligence

Every first-time homebuyer needs a bit of buyer education. To complete the purchase of a property from start to finish and to have it go off without a hitch requires your buyer doing their due diligence. This means doing their research and knowing the ins, outs, and all the processes of home-buying that will make things easier for everyone involved. They should ask the right questions of their broker or agent, their lender, and anyone else involved to help it go more smoothly and avoid any roadblocks that could upend the entire transaction.

-Matt Woods, SOLD.com

Make a Competitive Offer

You have no idea how much you should offer as a first-time buyer. You're ready to make an offer because you've already been preapproved for a loan. Make sure you don't go over your spending limit. Make an offer that is within your price range. Ask your real estate agent to assist you in ensuring that your offer stands out from the competition. It would be best if you researched and checked out the market value. It is important not to make a too generous offer in order to beat out the competitors. Also, try to figure out a range from the seller, which will help you bid a good amount.

-Ryan Yount, Luckluckgo

Get a Loan Pre-Approval and Stay Within Your Budget

One piece of advice that I would give to a first-time homebuyer is to always have a loan pre-approval in hand before you start your home search. This will help you narrow down your search to homes that are within your budget and avoid any heartache down the road. Additionally, it is important to be realistic about what you can afford and to stay within your budget. Don't overspend on your new home just because you think it will increase in value down the road - you could quickly find yourself underwater on your mortgage. Instead, be realistic about what you can afford and stick to it. This will help you avoid any financial trouble down the road.

-Amira Irfan, A Self Guru

Make Sure You Have a Good Credit Score

Having a solid credit history can help when applying for a mortgage or home loan. If you are using credit cards often or are unable to keep up with monthly bills, it's time to make some changes before looking at houses. By showing lenders that you've successfully managed money in the past, your chances of getting approved for a mortgage increase greatly. You should aim for at least five years worth of history with no late payments or other negative marks against you on your credit report since these can hurt your chances of getting approved.

-Peter Lucas, Relocate to Andorra

Have Extra Money Set Aside for Hidden Homeowner Costs

As an insurance expert with ExpertInsuranceReviews.com, I knew how to find the most affordable homeowners insurance when I recently became a first-time homeowner. That savings, as well as comparison shopping mortgage rates and negotiating closing costs, helped me weather hidden costs of homeownership that surprised me during my first year despite my family being in real estate. 

For example, in addition to the mortgage cost, I had also factored in utilities, regular maintenance of the HVAC system, regular pest control, and lawn care. But I didn't count on an influx of carpenter bees my first spring, followed by birds building nests in my carport, then other bugs that tried to take over my shed. This called for extra pest control company expenses and extra trips to Lowe's, where I was already accruing credit card debt for having to purchase a washer and dryer as well as a lawnmower, edger, and leaf blower.

-Karen Condor, ExpertInsuranceReviews.com


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