Buying a home is one of the most exciting, frustrating, happy, scary and exhilarating times in anyones life. You’ve worked on establishing great credit and saving tons of money for your down payment. Spending hours online scouring looking for houses and dreaming of whats to come. But… there are things you don’ t know about buying a house that I can help you with. This is my tips for first time home buyers from a first time home buyer (ME!)
My husband and I had been married for 11 years before taking the plunge into home ownership. Honestly, we thought we knew what we wanted, what we could compromise on and what we didn’t want. Boy oh boy were we wrong. I thought that giving you some real advice might help you on the hunt for your new home. Keep reading for my free House Hunting Worksheet!
TIPS FOR FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS
Can you really live on this street?
We had decide early on the living on a main street would be okay if the house was right. So we purchase a house on a main road with traffic 24/7. For us, it is not the end of the world. But it might be for you. On Sunday’s it takes us about 15 min to get out of our driveway because of the huge church a block away. Also, our house leads up to a major make out spot for teens. So, there’s that (eye roll). Ugh.
Have you gone shopping at the local store?
Shop at the local super market at least three times before you buy a home in the area. Sounds a little crazy right? Not really. By shopping in the area you will have a good sense of who lives in your area and what kind of personalities your potential neighbors might have.
Drive your commute and drop the kids off at school/daycare.
This could be a huge deal breaker. Do you want to add 45 minutes to your commute? Heck no! It’s a good idea to drive the commute for a couple of days to see if it’s something you want to commit to.
If you drive up to a property and have a bad feeling, just walk away.
You are paying your agent big bucks to find you a property. If you pull up to a house that looks horrible in a crappy neighborhood you DO NOT have to go in. Tell your agent that this is not what you are looking for at all.
Look at all sorts of houses.
Yeah I know this sounds stupid, but ,how will you know what you want unless you look at everything. When we were house shopping we looked at old houses, new builds, land, floating houses, kit houses and on and on. Give yourself at least a month to find what you want.
Find a house inspector that is not affiliated with your agent/Realtor.
This one might sound a little strange but if you find a home inspector that is not friends with your realtor, than you have a greater chance of getting a true and honest inspection. Now having said that, an inspector that your agent/Realtor suggests could also be great. Follow your gut and hire one with your best interests in mind.
Be present at the inspection.
Get ready to spend hours looking at every aspect of your future home. Follow the inspector around and take notes and pictures of things that they are focusing on. Make sure to wear some cloths and shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. A good home inspector will take lots of pictures and even video. You should end up with a binder full of every detail of your house with the pictures to match.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes while house shopping.
Seriously. You’ll be getting in and out of the car for hours and traipsing through and around houses. This is not the time to wear your favorite heels.
If it looks like a drug house it probably is.
What the hell are you saying? Haha. Yes, a drug house. Out of the hundred or so houses we visited we found 5 illegal marijuana grow operations. IN THE HOUSES WE WERE LOOKING AT? Seriously, pay attention. If you are suspicious at all walk away. Not all sellers will disclose if the house was used by previous tenants as drug houses.
DIY’ing is not as easy as it looks on TV!
I am very guilty of this one. We purchased our house thinking that I (by myself) could DIY the whole house. Now, I am very hand and have essentially re-built the first floor but not everyone is. Just cuz you saw a DIY on HGTV that took a weekend does NOT mean that you can knock it out in the same amount of time. After tearing my bathroom out to the studs and sub floor it took me 3 months to completely rebuild it. Painting my kitchen cabinets took 3 weeks…Not fun!
Don’t let minuet details hang you up.
So what, there’s wall paper, or the paint color is horrendous. Don’t get hung up on tiny things like paint or appliances. All of these things are easily changed. Look for a home that you can see yourself in the bones of. Deal breakers should be bad foundations or rot!
Trim is expensive.
Not all of you will care about trim but we do. That beautiful thick baseboard trim is super expensive. If you are only able to afford the base model of a new home don’t expect it to have that amazing trim from the model home. But, you can add it yourself for way less. If you want the fancy trim wait until you have purchase the house and DIY that bad boy.
Be careful of the HOA’s.
Let’s say you have your heart set on a yellow front door or a white picket fence. Not so fast. Some HOA’s will not allow you to add anything to your house or they have a specific set of paint colors for you to choose from. If all you’ve ever dreamed about is having a duck shaped mailbox then you should read the HOA”s before purchasing.
School districts matter.
My husband and I are a childless couple but we knew that having a house close to a school would be a huge selling point when we decide to move on. Even if you do not have any children consider the schools nearby. It could mean the difference between a fast sale or a nightmare sale.
Get pre-approved before house shopping.
Getting pre-appoved means you know exactly what you are able to afford and will make home shopping much easier. Pay attention though! Your pre-approval only lasts for a certain amount of time.
Look for state and local first time home buyer programs.
There are ton’s of programs out there that can help first time home buyers. My husband and I took advantage of this first time home buyers program. It helped us understand the whole process of buying a house and set us up with a broker that works with first time home buyers. Here’s a first time home buyers loan assistance program through the state of Oregon. Check out assistance programs in your area. This post on Nerdwallet.com has a great list of helpful information.
Set money aside.
I don’t think I need to tell you that buying a home is expensive, right? There are many incidentals when it come to buying a home that you don’t factor in. Moving costs can be super expensive. Purchasing oil if you are on oil heat for your new home($700-900 a year). House cleaning supplies, roof moss removal, gutter cleaning, new water heater, water filtration unit Etc. Save at least $5,000 for unforeseen issues.
Don’t look at houses over your budget!
We did it, HUGE mistake. Of course the house that is $50,000 more is going to have everything you want. Duh! Take my advice and just don’t do it.
Don’t make an offer that’s insulting.
Make an offer that is reasonable. If the purchase price is $250,000 than don’t offer $200,000. Would you sell that same house for that price? Any agent worth their weight will guide you to a fair price for both parties involved. Last thing you want, is to lose your dream house cuz you are trying to drink Champagne on a beer budget!
Get homeowners insurance.
Most mortgage companies will make you purchase homeowners insurance before closing. If they don’t, go out and get home owners insurance stat! After living through the house burning down and a flood I can tell you first hand what a God send having the proper insurance can be.
I have created this handy house hunting worksheet for you to print out. Trust me when I say that you will not remember all the details of every house. This worksheet will help you remember all the little details to help make your buying experience informed and pleasant. BEFORE you go out house shopping fill in the top part of the sheet with all the vital house information.
I hope my tips will help you find your new home. Happy house hunting.
Did you buy a home? Here are my top tips of thing to do BEFORE you move in.
Keep a look out for my free printable home binder. Follow me so you don’t miss out on the binder when I’ve finished it!