Buying your first home is exciting! Finding a place to call your own, investing in your financial future, finding a niche in a community… There are so many perks to homeownership. But it’s a little intimidating, too; a mortgage is no small loan, and there are a lot of big decisions, confusing legal terms, and professional people involved with the process.
But before you start feeling overwhelmed, take a breath and learn more about our tips for starting the home buying experience.
5 Tips to Get Started as a First-Time Home Buyer
Before you jump into the search process, there are a few things you might want to learn, know, or consider about buying a home. Here are some tips for first-time home buyers to get you started.
Talk to some mortgage lenders first
You might think the home search process starts with, well, a home search, or at least a real estate agent. But ideally, you should begin the process by talking to lenders. There are a couple of advantages to doing this. First and foremost, you get a professional in the industry to review your financial situation to determine how much loan you might qualify for—or whether you qualify at all.
Secondly, talking to lenders can help you to better understand your mortgage options. Contrary to common belief, there isn’t just one type of loan—there might be a few different options that apply to you, each with its own pros and cons. Your lender might even be able to recommend loans specifically for first-time home buyers.
While you’re talking to these lenders about your finances, they’ll also likely review their own particular charges, rates, and discounts, which you can compare between lenders.
Get prequalified for a loan
As your lender discusses loan options and asks you questions about your goals and financial situation, they may also urge you to get prequalified. Getting prequalified is definitely something you want to do if you’re serious about buying a home—for a few reasons.
Simply put, prequalification will show you exactly how much a particular lender is willing to loan you, and it’s an important step in the buying process. In fact, some agents won’t show homes to or even work with buyers who aren’t prequalified! An official prequalification letter from your lender also helps to show sellers you’re serious, and definitely makes your offer more appealing than an offer from a buyer who’s not prequalified.
Interview several agents
Picking the right real estate agent is always pretty important, but it’s especially important for first-time home buyers unfamiliar to the real estate experience. Not only do experienced agents know the details and nuances of the transaction inside and out, but a really good agent can also provide useful advice and recommendations. That might mean helping you narrow down your favorite neighborhoods, determine which home features are most important to you, or find local vendors, like inspectors, appraisers, contractors, or even lenders.
Because your agent is so vitally important, you want to do your research carefully. Ask for recommendations. Read Google, Facebook, or Zillow reviews. And of course, talk to the agents themselves to see how well they communicate and what they have to offer.
Know what you want in a home
It’s almost time to get searching, but before you let yourself fall in love with granite counters or a luxurious soaking tub, take some time to think about the features you actually need in a home. Understand, there are a lot of homes out there, and odds are, most of them aren’t the right fit. Rather than burn yourself out looking through homes that aren’t right, or worse, to fall in love with a home that doesn’t fit your needs, do yourself a favor and make a list.
List out the features you absolutely need, the features you really want, and features that are more like icing on the cake. Then, when it comes time to search, you can rule out any homes that don’t fit ALL of your needs and at least a few of your stronger wants!
Explore the area a bit
The most important aspect of any home—in determining both its market value and its value to you—is its location. The perfect home in the wrong location will quickly grow irritating or inconvenient, and unlike an old kitchen or bathroom, a home’s location cannot be changed.
When choosing a location for your home, you want to think about what’s most important to you. Do you want to be close to work, or to shopping and attractions? Do you want a larger yard or more space? Is price a big factor? Are schools? Your agent can prove an invaluable resource in helping you find the right location for your home.
Ready to Buy Your First Home in Albuquerque?
If you’re thinking of buying a home in Albuquerque, NM, we’d love to help! Contact the Feils today to learn more about how we help first-time home buyers like you find the perfect home in just the right spot.