I get this question all of the time, "how do I get started buying my first home?". I always reply with ask questions to friends, family or other people you know who have gone through this process. Luckily enough for me I had a great real estate agent when I bought my home. He was very helpful from the start to the end and because of that I pride myself in being a resource to my clients.
Ignore the Number on your Pre-Approval Letter!
The first thing you will do when getting prepared to buy a home is get your finances in order, this could mean paying down debt, figuring out where your financial documents are and most importantly saving for a down payment. You will also talk to a lender; you can go to your local credit union, bank or a preferred lender by your real estate agent. I took my time when looking for a lender to make sure I worked with one that really broke down exactly what I was getting in to. Take your time. The lender will take a look at your current financial situation and weigh in you debt to income value. Based on this they will give you a pre-appoval letter with a conditional amount of approval. Use this number as a suggestion but remember to figure in your insurance, potential utilities, PMI (for loans with less than 20% down) and maintenance. Find a monthly number that you are comfortable with paying and stick to a budget around this price! If you are moving from a smaller home/apartment remember to save money to also furnish your new home.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
When you starting this search for your new home drive around the city you live in and see where you would want to live. Is it convenient to work? Near good schools? What kind of walk-ability are you looking for? See what your potential neighborhood looks like if possible and how the area is taken care of. Once you find the area you want to live in talk to your potential neighbors if possible. They have the best idea of the area because they live there. Learn about the school districts and how they are rated, it is good to have an idea of the areas safety as well (these all play in to resale value).
Negotiation Isn't Scary!
As an agent I love this part, getting to the deal! This is a major step in the home buying process, you want to make sure the deal works for you. Every home you buy should get an inspection, this will help you get an idea of the home. During the negotiation process issues that arise during inspection will be repaired or they will be taken care of with additional money towards closings costs. The inspection will tell you the estimate age of the water heater, roof, HVAC system and other things in the home. It also will tell you about the areas you might not check your self like the crawl space or the attic. Your agent will work on your behalf with the seller and sellers agent to come to an agreement that works for all parties.
Check out the info graphic bellow for a quick summary of this post:)
-Capital Keys, LLC