By: Mike Heaviland
The biggest decision I’ve been fortunate enough to make since graduating college was purchasing my first home in May 2015. I had been wanting to purchase a home and after three years and as many apartments, I was finally ready to settle down and buy. I assumed that the home buying process was roughly the same as any sort of purchase or at the very worst purchasing a car. I was naive and without guidance from my parents and an experienced first time home buyer real estate agent I may have ended up in a pretty big hole.
There are a lot of things that a first-time homebuyer needs to know. You must have a grasp of contracts, mortgage rates, credit reports, insurance and property taxes and more. Then you must also assess the quality of the roof, the wiring hidden inside the walls, the type of pipes running your homes plumbing and the restrictions of Homeowner Associations and local covenants.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to make a few suggestions to make sure that your home buying process is not fraught with peril and confusion.
- Hire a professional real estate agent. The benefit to this is clear, they have the expertise that in the event that something goes wrong they have the resources of their broker to help you out.
- Get the home inspected by somebody that comes highly recommended. Your agent can be a huge benefit to you here as well, they work with inspectors all the time and know who will do a good job. When looking for an inspector look for someone who is willing to provide a comprehensive report of their findings and someone who is going to really go over the home with a fine tooth comb. It’s one thing to look at a roof but another thing entirely to walk every square foot of it.
- Be leery of purchasing a flip-house. Typically this is a home that is purchased and receives several cosmetic updates with the intention of reselling the property in a matter of days or weeks. A lot of times problem areas of these homes are covered up with a coat of paint or a band-aid fix which can become a big problem for the next homeowner (you) down the line.
- When you are looking over the house focus on the underlying structure instead of its purely cosmetic appearance. Look at the pipes, insulation, wiring and water pressure. When was the last time the roof was replaced? How about the siding? Are the windows sealed?
- Beyond the actual cost of the home, you should take some time to imagine actually living in it. If the house has a lawn will you have time to mow it or will you be able to afford yard care? One thing that I wish I’d paid more attention to was the distance from the home to work and other resources like groceries and shopping. This can be especially taxing on your time and gas budget if not accounted for.
- Have a budget in mind before filling your new home with furniture. It’s really tempting to rack up lots of debt to get the house to your final vision as quick as possible but this will put you in a bad spot when something inevitably goes wrong.
The golden rule of home ownership is to “Expect the unexpected”.
Finally, a major take away from any length of home ownership is to simply learn from your mistakes.
Are you looking for additional resources for first time home buyers? Check out some of these additional articles from Stanberry.com.
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