Earlier this year, my fiancé and I made the big step to purchase our first home. Although it can be a scary experience making such a large purchase, it is an exciting one as well. It allows you to plant your roots and create your own space and vibe. It also allows you to add to your overall financial portfolio through the equity that you build in the home. If there is anything I learned, it is that having the right team around you can help make the process much easier. Some of the best advice I was given came from these people and I thought the least I could do was pass this along to others looking to make the same step.
Find a Trusted Lender – Living in Middle Tennessee, the real estate market is hot and often you can’t even get in to see a house without a pre-approval letter. This makes having a trusted lender one of the most important people on your team. They can help you decide how much you can afford and through this, help narrow down which areas or communities you can look at to buy in. Ideally, they can also help you shop the loan for the best rate so you do not have to take that on yourself
Find a Real Estate Agent You Are Comfortable With – Just because your friend is in the business does not mean you have to use them. It’s important to find someone who you can ask the tough questions to, as well as someone who is experienced. For me, it was about finding an agent who we could bounce ideas and questions off of. They also knew Middle Tennessee well, and based on what we were looking for, were able to point us to different areas where what we were looking for was available, along within our budget.
Decide How Much You Can Afford – This ultimately falls on you and your comfort level. There are many calculators out there that tell you the amount you can afford, but that doesn’t mean they are right. If you aren’t going to be able to sleep at night in the house you own because you are worried about next months mortgage, then that isn’t the right house. This is where having a good lender comes into play. They should be able to lay out several options to you so that you are comfortable not only with the amount you put down, but also the ongoing monthly mortgage payments.
Pick the Right Neighborhood – You are going to own this house. Its important to be in a neighborhood that you are going to enjoy spending the majority of your time in. You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your neighbors.
Don’t Skip the Inspection – Just because everything looks good at face value, does not mean that it is. Having a good inspector who knows what to look for is important. Chances are they will only find minor issues that the seller will fix without issue. But, there is always the chance that they will find a major issue and you will be glad you paid them the $200 that could save you a lot more than that down the road.
Plan For the Unexpected Expenses – The saying, “There is always something” is truer than ever when buying a house. Whether its inspections, closing cost, movers, or something else that pops up – be prepared.
Get the Right Insurance – Lenders will require this to finish the loan, but don’t just have it for that reason. Work with a seasoned insurance agent to make sure that the coverage you have is adequate for your properties and is going to cover you in the event of a catastrophe.
Have Money Set Aside for Renovation Cost or New Furniture – Although you might say that you are going to wait to renovate something or buy furniture for the spare room, do not bet on it. You are going to be excited to be in the new home and want to make it your own. Be prepared for additional expenses or furnishings sooner than you planned.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to buying a first house and it most likely involves spending more money on one thing then you have ever spent before. But don’t let this scare you from the process, be excited. If you are not excited, then maybe the time isn’t right for you to buy a house and that is ok. Just because you think you found the perfect house, doesn’t mean it will be or that you are missing out. There will always be another house that you can turn into your home. Ultimately, when the time and the house is right you will know it. For us it was the neighborhood and the open concept floorplan of the house. For you it might be something totally different. In the end it’s all about enjoying the process and being happy with your decision and knowing that right where you are is where you are supposed to be.