From the get-go, make sure you’re working with a trusted real estate agent who can walk you through the ins-and-outs of home buying. They will help you narrow down your search, take you on private home tours, handle all necessary paperwork, and negotiate the best price just for you. You should also do your own homework on the side, such as driving through prospective neighborhoods, gathering information sheets from “for sale” properties, and taking pictures of houses you may like so you don’t forget which one is which.
Read up on some financing options like FHA loans, secure 30-year fixed or 15-year fixed, and depending on how much you have in savings, check out home loan programs that require low down payments. You might also find it helpful to get some good buyer know-how by familiarizing yourself with terms that are commonly used in the housing and mortgage industries.
Why Use a Real Estate Agent?
A real estate agent can be very helpful in searching for homes. They can give you the ins and outs of home buying from an experienced professional’s point of view. Some people prefer not to use a real estate agent—that’s your prerogative. But if you’re an inexperienced first-time home buyer, you wouldn’t want to be swindled or taken advantage of by a seller’s agent your first time out.
Things to Look For in a Home
You hear people say it all the time: “Location, location, location!” But that doesn’t just mean where the home is located – it involves everything having to do with the location. When you look at a home, you also have to consider the kind of neighborhood the home is in. Are the other homes well-taken care of? What kind of businesses are nearby? Are there grocery stores or malls that are convenient and easy to get to? Don’t forget to also consider:
If you have kids or plan to have them, you’ll want to research the school system that’s in the area you like to make sure your kids will be getting an education that’s up to your standards.
Consider the crime level of the area. When you look around the area, ask yourself if you and your family would feel safe and comfortable living there. Contact the local police department or check the Internet to find out more about the crime level.
If you like a particular area, think about the traffic level. If you lived there, what route would you take to work? How long would it take you to get there? Does the traffic create too much noise (if you’re, say, next to a highway or set of railroad tracks)?
Local Property Values
Find out what the rate of home appreciation is in the area and how much people are paying in property taxes (since these taxes may be factored into your monthly mortgage payment). New construction or new homes may indicate a possible increase in property values (as well as traffic) in the future.