Buying a home can seem like such a stressful and difficult task, especially for first-time home buyers. Don’t worry – feeling a little bit intimidated is actually quite normal. Buying a home is such a huge financial decision and will likely be the biggest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime, so you want to do it right.
While finding a home that meets all your requirements at a price you can afford is easier said than done, it can be accomplished without any problems as long as you do your homework, plan accordingly, and follow a strategy.
One of the best ways to prepare for a home purchase is to simply gather information about the buying process. When you’re equipped with the right info, you’ll know what to expect, putting you in a better position to make the best, most informed decisions towards your goal of homeownership.
Looking for homes for sale in Long Beach, CA? In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the steps involved when purchasing a home and give you some of the most important things to keep in mind during the process.
Plan a budget before you search
Before you even start looking for homes online or heading to open houses, you need to take a look at your present financial situation. Consider your current income and average monthly expenses, and determine how much you can afford to put towards future monthly mortgage payments.
Setting a realistic budget will help you avoid dealing with an unmanageable amount of debt once you add a mortgage to your current expenses.
Consider additional costs
Taking possible additional expenses into account is an important step in determining how much you can afford on a home. Some of these additional costs include homeowner’s association fees, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes. You’ll likely need to purchase new appliances, materials, and other essential items that aren’t included in the home.
If you’re buying an older home, you’ll also need to factor in maintenance and repair fees. As a rule of thumb, it’s a smart idea to set aside at least 1% of your home’s total value, which you can use towards yearly maintenance and repair fees.
Look for low down payment mortgage options
For many first-time home buyers, trying to save for a substantial down payment in order to buy a home can often be challenging. However, if you take time to shop around, you could find a mortgage loan that offers a very affordable down payment requirement.
There are many lenders nowadays offering very flexible mortgage programs that require low down payments. This is why the average down payment for first-time home buyers has already dropped in the country over the past couple of years. To start, you can try qualifying for an FHA loan program or look into getting a conventional loan, which are two options offering relatively low down payments.
Work with an experienced real estate agent
The right real estate agent can make the entire home buying process smooth and seamless for you. An experienced agent will assist you throughout the process and will help you find what you’re looking for, whether it’s the perfect property or the perfect price.
Your real estate agent will serve as your representative. He or she will provide listings that match your requirements, look out for your best interests during negotiations, and help you out with the paperwork.
Be prepared to deal with lots of paperwork and documentation when purchasing a home. Failure to submit the required paperwork or losing even a single important document can throw a wrench into the entire process.
But thanks to today’s technology, you can manage to avoid these problems just by creating a digital record of everything you need. Remember to scan or take a screenshot or photo of every important document and contract, including credit card debt information, your proof of assets, pay stub statements, and so on. Keep all of it on your phone and store them in the cloud, so you’ll always have access.
Location is important
This is pretty obvious, but the location you choose will determine the type of lifestyle you’ll have in your new home. Many first-time home buyers make the mistake of focusing only on a home’s features, size, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
When choosing a location, there are of course important factors such as the home’s distance to your workplace, the taxes you’ll need to pay, and which school district your kids will go to. But you’ll also need to consider the type of activities you enjoy and places you’d like to live close to.
See if an area is right for you by booking a room at a nearby hotel for a weekend, or at least driving around the neighborhood during different times of the day, which could help you discover certain things you might not have noticed before.