Buying your first house can be stressful and daunting. But with some simple planning, it can be a very enjoyable experience. And something that can go on to set you and your family up for years to come.
Buying a home can be an emotionally draining and overwhelming process. It is not easy to find the right home and generally, first-time buyers are ill-prepared for the amount of legwork involved.
Not only do you have to go from house to house viewing and inspecting them, but you also have to go door to door to various lenders looking to get the best rates.
You’ll have to haggle with them of course, and you’ll have to haggle with the seller of the house too. Add to that all the research you’ll be doing and you might be thinking it all sounds like too much hassle.
But that’s nothing compared to the hassle you could face if you buy the wrong house.
So to avoid that from happening we’ve created this article to give you nine simple steps for buying your first house.
Perform Your Due Diligence
A house is a serious investment, for many the biggest they will make in their lives.
Like any investment, there is always a degree of risk involved so you need to learn to perform your due diligence.
Buyers are usually advised to look at several homes before settling on the home of their choice. They should also conduct research before heading to shop for a home.
Thanks to the web this is far simpler than it used to be. Go online and look at homes in the areas you are considering buying in, pay particular attention to the prices of various houses and use them to get an average selling price.
If the home(s) you are considering looking at are posted online be sure to look at the available photos. You might also want to make a note of the online price as it might be different from the actual sticker price.
Check out the amenities in the local area also; schools, shopping, entertainment, and so on. This is particularly important if you are relocating, thanks to the web you can see what the place looks like and get a feel for it, both with pictures and through Google Earth and Maps.
Of course, there’s only so much you can do online, to get a real feel for a house you really have to see it with your own eyes. The first thing you need to do is schedule viewings.
Try and schedule viewings so that you can get more than one house seen in one visit. Chances are you don’t get a chance to do this during the week because of work so you really ought to squeeze in as many viewings as you can on the weekend.
That said you shouldn’t rush, you really ought to take your time and shop around. Look at a lot of different houses in different areas and inspect each one thoroughly.
If you do visit a lot of houses it’s always a good idea to bring a notebook to make notes. After a while, you’re going to be so sick of seeing houses and you won’t remember all of them.
That’s where the notepad comes in handy, especially if you can go back online and look at the photos again, “ah yes that one! Yes certainly going in the maybe pile!”
Be sure to spend plenty of time weighing up the various pros and cons and discuss the houses with your partner in detail. Be extra certain if you like a house that your partner likes the house also.
Get a Loan
While it is not essential that you have a prospective bank or mortgage broker that can offer you a loan, it is always smarter to get a pre-approval on a loan in advance.
This allows the buyer to know the exact amount he or she can spend on buying a house. Also, many sellers won’t contemplate an offer if the buyer doesn’t have an assurance like a loan to back it up.
Buyers can check with their own bank or mortgage broker to compare types of mortgages and interest rates.
Negotiate with the Seller
Buyers tend to compare the sales prices of homes they have seen. This is a mistake. Sellers can quote any price they want, although it does not mean that the home will sell for that exact price.
Buyers can request their agent for comparable sales and pending sales. Comparable sales are homes similar to what you are looking at, for instance, location and condition in the last three months.
Try and suss out the seller also, he or she might be holding off for a higher price and might be completely unwilling to take a penny less.
Or then again, they might be only playing a game and are in reality desperate for a quick sale. If the latter is the case then you should be able to negotiate a lower price.
Though of course, you should also be suspicious as to why the person is so eager to get shot of the house – which brings me onto my next point.
Conduct a Thorough Inspection
Never, ever, ever buy a house without giving it a serious once-over. You need to check for things like faulty wiring, faulty plumbing, shoddy building practices and cheap materials, bad foundations, mould, rot, rising damp.
Of course, you should also be extra vigilant for any evidence of infestations such as termites.
Not everybody is a DIY or property management expert and that’s why it’s always a good idea to bring along an expert.
If you’re lucky you might know somebody who can help you, if not you can always hire someone. Someone who knows the property game inside out.
Someone who not only knows how to spot things like rot and termites but also how to smell a rat and can tell straight away when a seller is hiding something.
This is important because sometimes problems can exist deep in the foundations or inside the walls, especially if you’re buying an old house.
And don’t just look inside the house either, check the grounds or garden, if appropriate. For example, if the house has a septic tank you’ll want to check it out.
Drainage is another important factor – nobody wants a garden that’s a swamp three months of the year.
Top Expert Tips on Buying Your First House
Any home buyer always wishes there were things they thought of before signing the dotted line. These expert tips are to help potential homeowners with the things they may have missed previously.
Look for a Good Mortgage Advisor
What buyers need is advice from a qualified mortgage advisor. Of course, like any professional, not all mortgage advisors are created equal. With a good mortgage, buying your first house doesn’t need to be financially stressful.
So once again it’s time for the legwork. You’ll want to find someone who appears as attentive and competent as possible and who has a good reputation.
Once again the internet is a good starting point, though obviously, you should not go on that alone.
Talk to people, that’s always a good idea. Chances are you might know somebody who’s a player in the property game and can recommend someone to you.
Just be sure the person they recommend is a professional recommendation and not a friend or associate and they’re sending a little business their way. In the end, go with your gut.
If the person seems flippant or inattentive you shouldn’t trust them, you want to get the feeling that you have their full attention and that they’re taking this just as seriously as you are.
Of course, even then, there’s nothing wrong with getting a second, third, or even fourth opinion, just as long as you’re aware that opinions are another word for consultation, and though the first one might be free, the second one invariably won’t be.
Be Ahead with Your Mortgage
As mentioned you ought to get pre-approval from a lender before you start looking to buy a home. This will give you an idea of how much you can spend on a home.
This is important to lenders, especially banks. You might well find yourself being asked for more up-front than you thought.
The banking crisis and the US housing crisis have had quite an effect on mortgage lending globally and so lending isn’t quite as lax as it once had been. So you need to know your limit and stick within it.
If you’ve already ponied up a good chunk of money and agreed upon a mortgage with your bank, sellers will take your interest more seriously.
Nobody likes a time-waster, someone who asks loads and loads of questions but in the end, doesn’t buy. It may not be your intention but still, sometimes buyers have to pull out of their transaction with the seller because they can’t receive the necessary financing.
This has many sellers losing on time and money when a sale has fallen through. The seller will be well aware of this fact so you can expect them to enquire if you have made arrangements for a pre-approval on a mortgage.
When they discover you do you’ll find they’ll be a lot more receptive towards you.
Contemplate How Long You Plan to Use the Home
When looking for a new home, while it is imperative that you look at all financial aspects you must also ensure the property will make a suitable home for you to reside in.
It should be a home that you can live in for several years. Do not view your prospective home only as a future investment.
While a property is known to potentially increase its value, recent events in the US and elsewhere have shown that the notion of ever-rising house prices is a myth.
Remember buying your first house is a long-term investment, so you best be sure you have thought it out and formulated a long-term plan.