Today’s market is ripe with opportunities for first-time homebuyers. Shopping for and purchasing your first home is an exciting time, but before you begin looking, make sure you’re completely prepared and know what to expect. The following steps will help get you ready to make that big purchase.
Step 1: Freshen up your Finances. Before you dive into the exciting part of home-buying—the search!—make sure you have all your ducks in a row. “Figuring out your finances and crunching some numbers will allow you to set a realistic budget,” says Mary Lynn Stone, President of Century 21 New Millennium.
Step 2: Secure a loan. “After you get your finances in order, talk to lenders and mortgage brokers,” says Stone. It’s important to shop around to get the lowest interest and overall best deal possible. “Make sure you understand all of the fees involved before diving into anything,” Stone warns.
Step 3: Map out your criteria. Now that you have your finances figured out and a loan set up, it’s time to begin your search—from home! With a plethora of online home-buying tools at your fingertips, it’s relatively easy to map out different types of homes and neighborhoods and find what is right for you. “Make big decisions—like urban versus suburban settings, an estimated property size and neighborhood requirements—before you start to physically look at properties,“ says Stone. This will save time and energy for both you and your agent.
Step 4: Take notes. On your own or with the help of an agent, you’ve found some houses you’re interested in looking at. Don’t venture out without a pen, paper and camera. “Often when searching for a home you are shown many at once. Keeping track of important details by taking notes and pictures will help you differentiate between the properties later, and help you weed out the homes you were not interested in,” says Stone. It is also a good idea to come with a list of questions ready, and be sure to scope out the neighborhood by driving around for a bit. “There’s nothing worse than purchasing a house only to find it’s down the block from an extremely noisy restaurant or industrial plant,” Stone notes.
Step 5: Close that deal! So you’ve found a home you love? Don’t wait around. “I’ve seen many first-time buyers miss out on a home because they got cold feet and continued shopping around. By the time they realized they weren’t going to find a better fit, someone else had already made an offer!” says Stone. Like the perfect pair of shoes, you will know when you’ve found the right match. “Make an offer, and be ready to negotiate,” says Stone. Once a deal has been made, thoroughly read the contract and make sure you understand everything before you sign. Next, it’s time to begin with the appraisal and home inspection process.
CENTURY 21 New Millennium. Smarter. Bolder. Faster.
CENTURY 21 New Millennium, www.c21nm.com, is a full service real estate brokerage company specializing in residential and luxury properties. The Virginia locations are in Alexandria, Centreville, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Gainesville, McLean, Stafford, and Woodbridge. The Maryland offices are located in Annapolis, Dunkirk, La Plata, Lexington Park and Lusby. Its core services include: mortgage financing, investing, settlement services, property management, property insurance, global relocation assistance, and commercial real estate.