Current American homeowners stayed in their homes for an average of 13 years. In large cities, homeowners stayed put for over 20 years. In 2010, average homeowners stayed for only 8 years.
How long you plan to stay in your first home is a vital factor in the home buying process. Will your job ask you to move in a few years? Is there enough space for the life you want to lead in a decade?
Buying your first home is complicated but shouldn't be so intimidating. Take a little time to learn about the home buying process before you begin.
Keep reading below and use this guide to make a to-do list for buying a home.
1. Plan Your Entire Home Buying Budget Ahead of Time
Every step must follow a plan so you don't run into financial problems.
The first step to prepare for buying a home is to pay off any debts. This way, when you go to get pre-approved for a mortgage, you get the best rate possible.
It might seem like jumping the gun to talk to a mortgage broker beforehand. In truth, the pre-approval gives you a dollar amount to work with.
Your budget should include:
20% down payment
Monthly mortgage payments
Cost of moving
Property tax rates
Set aside extra money just in case. You don't want to stress about money during such an exciting time.
2. Look Around the Neighborhood Before Buying a Home
Remember, your new home includes the neighborhood around it. Repeating the home buying process because the neighborhood isn't ideal will cost time and money.
Before making an offer on the house, walk around the neighborhood. Visit local stores and restaurants. Take a drive around after dinner to see how the neighborhood behaves at night.
3. Hire the Right Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is your guide through the home buying process. You want to find someone willing to go the extra mile for you.
Qualities to look for in a real estate agent:
Knows a lot about the local market
Answers questions without hesitation
Is willing to work with your schedule
Listens well during meetings
Once you find an agent you trust, buying a home is easier. A good real estate agent takes stress off your shoulders.
4. Ask Questions During Open Houses
Open houses are the perfect time to learn about a place without making any commitment, especially if you're moving from out-of-state. Pictures alone won't tell you that the carpet upstairs has a weird smell!
During the open house, ask about:
The home's age
The date of any major renovations
The age of major appliances
If there has been any serious flooding
When the roof was replaced
Keep a notebook with the answers. This way you remember details about each home.
5. Be Patient When Planning to Decorate
Moving into a new home is expensive. The down payment is sometimes more than a person makes in a year.
Don't be upset if high moving costs mean you can't decorate right away. Instead, start planning and saving money in a special account now.
Don't Fear the Home Buying Process
The home buying process is easier with a team to support you. Start on the right foot by finding a mortgage broker and real estate agent you trust.
Looking for more home buying tips? Visit our blog and check out some of our other posts.