First Time Home Buyer? Top 5 Tips, 4 Costs to Consider & 4 Questions to Ask First

By Chika

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Last Updated: December 1, 2021

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A successful home buying process is all about getting the details perfect from start to finish.

For a first-time buyer, purchasing a house might be difficult. After all, there are a lot of processes, jobs, and regulations, and you don't want to make a costly error. Whatever your motivation for purchasing a home, there are several phases between where you are now and the time when you may relax and enjoy it. 

To help decipher the process so you get the most out of your purchase, we've listed some ideas for first-time homebuyers to assist navigate the house-buying process, save money, and finalize the transaction.

 

4 Questions to Consider When Buying a House

1. What is my financial status?

Conducting a thorough financial analysis is expedient before settling down on a home of your choice.

You must be financially prepared for both the purchase and ongoing costs of a property. There are significant recurring fees that come with owning a home, aside from the down payment and closing charges. You have to factor in maintenance, insurance, and property taxes

Inability to consider these factors could blindside you, leading to financial problems down the road. This is why some financial planners advise saving up three to six months' worth of living costs in an emergency savings account before considering buying a house. 

2. Can I commit to paying a long-term loan?

The average timespan of a mortgage is 15 to 30 years.

Even if you don't plan on staying in your house for that long, purchasing a home is a significant financial investment. Before you take out a mortgage, you must be certain without a shadow of a doubt that you are ready to buy a property. 

Having a reliable source of income or an emergency fund is a good start, but it is insufficient. Picture how your life would turn out in the next decade or two.

  • Would you be changing jobs or retired?
  • Will you have kids?
  • Do you see yourself staying in the city for at least five years?

Questions such as this help you decide if you are ready to commit to a mortgage or are better off renting.

3. Which type of home will best suit my needs?

A classic single-family home, a duplex, a townhouse, a condominium, a co-operative, or a multifamily complex with two to four units are all viable choices when considering a home to buy.

Depending on your homeownership goals, each choice has advantages and disadvantages, so you must decide which property would best suit your present needs. 

Going for a house that is above your needs may lead to house poverty in the long run. On the flip side, buying a house that suits your needs would free up money which can be channeled to other investments.

If you travel out of town a lot, there is no need to go to a big house with a swimming pool and lush gardens, which would not be properly taken care of when you are away. Likewise, if you are single, going for a multi-family complex makes no sense. 

4. How much mortgage do you qualify for?

Before you go house hunting, you need to figure out how much a lender would loan you for your first home. You may believe you can afford a $500,000 property, but lenders may believe you're only qualified for half that amount based on criteria such as debt, monthly salary, and length of employment. 

Furthermore, many real estate brokers will refuse to work with customers who haven't determined how much they can pay. Knowing how much mortgage you qualify for puts things in proper perspective. It enables you to plan accordingly and avoid going for a mortgage that you can't afford. 

 

4 Costs to Consider When Buying a House

In addition to your mortgage payments, other related costs you'll need to consider include.

Inability to make provisions for these related costs is one of the leading causes of house poverty. To ensure that you do not walk into a mortgage trap in the future, here are some costs first-time homeowners should consider before buying a house. 

1. Utilities

Utilities are expenses every homeowner incurs. Water, power, cable, heat, and waste pickup are often included. These will not be taken into account by a lender. As a result, it's a good idea to budget for these costs, because they'll be part of your monthly spending.

2. Maintenance

Repairs are an unavoidable aspect of owning a property.

Some sections of the house may succumb to normal wear and tear over time. Not only for you as a homeowner, but also to retain the value of your property if you decide to sell it in a few years, it will be necessary to address these issues.

3. Fees for planned communities

You may enjoy certain privileges like lawns, pools, a gym, or a parking lot when you buy a house in a community, such as a condo.

The upkeep of these common places is usually expensive. A committee will be in charge of collecting payments from all inhabitants and managing the property for the benefit of everyone. These charges can quickly accumulate.

4. Moving costs and decoration

Moving into a new home and decorating it to meet your tastes does not come cheap.

Thinking of these costs beforehand can help you adequately prepare not just for the home purchase but also the actual cost of the move. Try to get a quotation for truck rentals, movers, interior decoration, etc. 

 

5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

1. Pick the right type of neighborhood

The neighborhood you intend to live in has significant costs for your livelihood that go beyond monetary implications.

The neighborhood you can stay in can affect your worldview, social class, how your kids grow, and even access to amenities such as parks and schools. Your neighborhood is like an extension of your personality.

As such, you have to pick the right type of neighborhood that not only suits your goals and aspirations, but your pocket as well. 

2. Compare mortgage rates and fees

Before you commit to a lender, always evaluate mortgage rates and costs.

As a result, you'll get the greatest offer available. When looking for mortgage rates, the more lenders you look at, the better your chances of getting a cheaper rate. A reduced interest rate might save you hundreds of dollars throughout a year's mortgage payments, and thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. 

To determine the going prices of properties in the area where you want to buy a property, look at internet listings or local agents. After you've gotten some rates, you may use a mortgage comparison calculator to figure out which one is the best.

3. Research first-time homebuyer assistance programs

Many states, as well as some towns and counties, provide first-time homebuyer programs that frequently include low-interest mortgages, as well as down payment and closing cost help.

Some first-time homebuyer programs provide tax rebates as well. Check to see if your residential area or state offers assistance programs to first-time homebuyers.

4. Get a preapproval letter

Before making an offer on a house, be sure you're pre-approved for financing. Many sellers will not even consider an offer that isn't accompanied by a mortgage pre-approval letter. It would also give you an edge ahead of other prospective buyers that don't have pre-approval letters.

When you're ready to start looking for a house, fill out an application for pre-approval.

Your credit will be pulled and documentation reviewed by a lender to verify your income, assets, and debt. Applying for pre-approval from multiple lenders to compare rates shouldn't damage your credit score if you do it within a certain period, such as 30 days.

5. Pay for a home inspection

A house inspection is a comprehensive examination of the building's construction and mechanical systems.

Professional inspectors check for possible issues so you can make an educated choice about whether or not to purchase the property. The inspection is usually attended by the buyer. You may have a better knowledge of the house and ask questions on the spot by accompanying the inspector around.

If you are unable to attend the inspection, carefully read the inspector's report and inquire about any questions. Learn what the inspection entails and what further inspections you may require. Ascertain that the inspector has access to all areas of the home, including the roof and any crawl spaces.

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

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