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The Ultimate Home Buying Guide for First-Time Home Buyers: Steps & Tips to Find Your Dream Home

The Ultimate Home Buying Guide for First-time Home Buyers: Steps & Tips to Find Your Dream Home

Do you want to make sure you have all the information you need to make the best decision? You’ve come to the right place!


Understand the Home-Buying Process and Your Finances

As a first-time home buyer, you may be intimidated by the process of finding a home and securing a mortgage. Although the process can seem overwhelming, it is much more manageable than many believe. By understanding the process and your finances, you will be able to make the best decision for you and your family. Real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and home inspectors all play an important role in the home buying process. Choosing the right team is critical to finding a home that meets your needs, as well as understanding all the expenses involved.

Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage

One of the first steps in the home buying process is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. A mortgage lender will review your financial information and credit history to decide if you are likely to repay the loan. Mortgage pre-approval will also give you a ballpark estimate of the amount you can afford to spend on a home. Pre-approval ensures you are a serious buyer and will likely be purchasing a home. There are two primary steps in the pre-approval process: – Select a mortgage lender – You will want to work with a reputable mortgage lender. The mortgage lender will review your income, credit history, and financial situation. They will also run a credit report for verification of your income. – Submit required documentation – Once you have chosen a lender, you will need to provide documentation to support your financial situation. This includes pay stubs, W-2 forms, and bank statements. Once you have provided this information, you can select the date you would like to close on the home.


Find the Right Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can help you find a home that meets your needs and has the potential to increase in value. You can hire an agent to represent you or work with a buyer’s agent who represents you and the seller in the deal. Hiring an agent will cost a one-time fee, while working with an agent who gets paid based on a percentage of the sale price will have no out-of-pocket expense. Find a real estate agent who is experienced in your area and has a proven track record of success. Check references and ask to talk to current and past clients. Interview a few agents and ask about their experience and what they can do for you as a first-time home buyer. Find a personable real estate agent who has your best interests at heart. An agent can help you find the right neighborhood and home that fits your needs and budget. He or she can also help you understand the home buying process, including inspections and financing.


Research Neighborhoods

Once you have a mortgage pre-approval and real estate agent, it’s time to start looking at properties. The first step is to research neighborhoods. In addition to finding the best school districts, you also want to make sure you avoid places that have high crime rates. Find neighborhood associations and attend meetings. You want to make sure the neighborhood is safe and has a community that will look out for each other. You can also check crime statistics on the city or county website. Find out if the neighborhood has any upcoming plans for road improvements, new parks or other projects that could impact your decision.


Use Online Resources to Find Properties

You will want to start your home search online. Find multiple listing service (MLS) websites in your area and choose a few real estate agents who list properties on these sites. You can also use websites like Zillow and Trulia to search for available properties. Find neighborhood-specific websites in your area to get a feel for the culture of the area and see what is happening in the neighborhood.


Make an Offer and Negotiate

Once you find the home you want, you have to make an offer. When making an offer, consider factors such as: – The cost of repairs – The home may need some repairs, but don’t let that scare you off. If you need to fix a few things, that is part of homeownership. A good real estate agent should be able to give you an honest assessment of what needs to be done. – Current market conditions – What are people in your neighborhood paying for homes? What is the average sale price for the area? This will help you establish a price range for the home you want to buy. – Residual equity – What is the current value of the home? If you do not want to pay the full price for a home, you can negotiate for more equity. – Seller motivation – Why are they selling? Buyers who are motivated to sell quickly usually have a lower bottom line.


Get a Home Inspection

A home inspection gives you an in-depth look at the house. You and the inspector will walk through the house, noting any issues that may need repair. The inspector will also check the roof, plumbing, heating, and electrical systems and make recommendations. A home inspection is critical to ensure you are purchasing a property in good condition and that you have sound advice for repairs. Your real estate agent should recommend a home inspector and will likely cover the cost. Be sure to get the inspection report and review it with your real estate agent and the seller.


Get Your Mortgage Approved

Once you find the home you want to buy, you will want to get your mortgage approved. A mortgage lender will review your financial information and credit history to decide if you are likely to repay the loan. You will also need to provide proof of income and cash reserves. Depending on the type of loan, you may need to provide documents to show how much money you make and how you earn it. This can include pay stubs, W-2 forms, and bank statements. If your credit score is below a certain level, you may be required to take out a mortgage with a higher interest rate. There are ways to improve your credit score before applying for a mortgage, such as making on-time payments or paying off old debts.


Finalize the Purchase

Once you have an accepted offer, an inspection report that has all repairs completed, and a mortgage approved, it’s time to finalize the purchase. You will likely sign a purchase and sale agreement that outlines terms of the deal, such as the date you will close on the property and the amount of money you will pay. Once you have agreed to the terms, you will receive a deposit from the seller. This deposit is often called earnest money, and it is a way for the seller to show they are committed to the deal. The next step is to get your financing approved and complete the mortgage process. The lender may want to run a credit check, employment verification, and review your financial information. This process can take three weeks or more, so you want to make sure you have a contingency clause in the purchase agreement for this.


Celebrate Your New Home!

Congratulations! You have made it through the home buying process and have a new home. There are a few things you need to do before you can truly celebrate. You will want to make sure you have taken care of any repairs the seller agreed to complete, received the keys to the house, and have a homeowners insurance policy in place. Once you have taken care of these items, you can relax in your new home. It’s a great feeling and one that you should always remember and cherish!