10 House Hunting Tips for First Time Home Buyers
Ready to buy your first home? Searching for your dream house can be an exciting and nerve-raking experience. Here are a few suggestions to make your home buying process easier and help you get into your new home sooner!
1. Find a real estate agent you trust.
Finding the right real estate agent should be the first step in your home buying process. By finding an agent before you get started, you are able to work with someone every step of the way. As a first time home buyer, there are going to be a lot of small things you'll learn along the way. Not only finding an agent, but finding the right agent is key.
At Cunningham Group, Shawn and Kyle specialize in first time home buyers because they enjoy helping them learn about the home buying process and have many resources they can share. Cunningham Group is also centered on creating and maintaining relationships with clients for life. Shawn and Kyle have over 20 years of combined experience in real estate and have lived in Las Vegas since elementary school.
2. Get mortgage pre-approval.
You don’t want to find your dream home only to let it slip through your fingers because you can’t qualify for a mortgage at the last minute. Getting mortgage pre-approval is a vital first step in the home buying process because it gives you an idea of what mortgages you can qualify for and how much they will cost, plus it lets sellers know that you’re serious about buying so they will be more likely to take your offer. Feel free to contact our lender partner with any home loan questions and to get pre-approval.
3. Set a budget.
Once you determine how much you are pre-approved for, you need to set a budget of how much you want to spend. How much house can you afford? Do you want to stretch and buy more home than you need so you can grow into it, or do you hope to pay off your mortgage quickly by buying a home you can afford with a 15-year fixed mortgage? Ultimately, your income, savings, and the real estate market will determine your viable housing budget. Once you set it, commit to it.
4. Make a plan.
What do you want and need from your first home? Take a moment to write it down. This is especially important if you’re shopping with a partner or spouse. You’ll save a time and aggravation if you agree on what’s most important in your house before you hit the streets shopping. Is it all about the location? Do you want an impeccably-kept modern home or would you consider a fixer-upper? The more factors you identify as important early-on, the faster you’ll be able to hone in on properties that meet your needs.
At Cunningham Group, Shawn and Kyle work with you to help develop the plan and ensure they have a good understanding of what you are looking for so they can find a handful of houses that meet your criteria so you aren't wasting time with houses you won't like before you walk in the door.
5. Create your own house hunting checklist.
Creating a house hunting checklist goes hand in hand with making a plan. Once you determine what you want to have in a house, you can use the checklist to measure each property on the same scale. It will also make it easier to remember what each property has to offer.
6. Consider the location.
There’s a reason for that old line “location, location, location.” Where you buy your first home will not only determine how much you pay, but the location will also shape your life for as long as you live in the home. Will you be having kids in this home? How are the schools? What will your commute be like? If you change jobs, what is the employment market like within commuting distance from the location? Before you start looking at properties, focus only on areas where you could see yourself living for years to come.
7. Do some research.
Thanks to the Internet, home buyers are able to do some of their own research. This gives you an opportunity to look for properties on your own to see what is out there. By finding homes you are interested in, you can help give the agent a better idea of what you're looking for. Maybe you didn't originally consider carpet vs tile, but after searching on your own you can add additional criteria that you want a house with mostly tile in it.
8. Get comfortable and relaxed.
House hunting can be a process. You drive to a property, spend 10-15 mins looking, and get back in the car to do it again. So make sure you dress comfortably and bring water and snacks. The agent has to contact the seller's agent to make sure you can view the property and it is still available so there can be additional variables that change. Be ready!
At Cunningham Group, Shawn and Kyle like to narrow down your search to 5-7 properties once they get to know you and learn about your criteria. This helps save time so you aren't spending several days viewing 20+ properties, when only a few of them should of been on the list to begin with.
9. Be prepared make an offer.
A lot of people shop for houses before their truly ready to buy a home. Maybe the timing isn’t right yet, maybe they don’t have enough saved up for a down payment, or maybe their credit needs work. Before you go out house hunting, ask yourself: Could you buy a house today? Using this gut-check will save you a lot of agony (and possibly money) if you make an offer but don’t close because, for one reason or another, you weren’t ready.
10. Have fun!
Buying your first home is a major milestone and has the potential to be a lot of fun! Just remember to relax and take things one step at a time. Everything may not go perfectly smoothly, but if you’re committed to buying a home and are working with a reliable agent, you’ll eventually find yourself in your dream home!
Shawn & Kyle Cunningham
Cunningham Group at RE/MAX Advantage