Part 3 of our “First Time Home Buyers” Series
Hire the right buyer's agent
You’ll be working closely with your real estate agent, so it’s essential that you find someone you get along with well. The right buyer’s agent should be highly skilled, motivated and knowledgeable about the area.
Pick the right type of house and neighborhood
You may assume you’ll buy a single-family home, and that could be ideal if you want a big yard or a lot of room. But if you’re willing to sacrifice space for less maintenance and extra amenities, and you don’t mind paying a homeowners association fee, a condo or townhouse could be a better fit.
But even if the home is right, the neighborhood could be all wrong. So be sure to:
- Research nearby schools, even if you don’t have kids, since they affect home value.
- Look at local safety and crime statistics.
- Map the nearest hospital, pharmacy, grocery store and other amenities you’ll use.
- Drive through the neighborhood on various days and at different times to check out traffic, noise and activity levels.
Stick to your budget
Look at properties that cost less than the amount you were approved for. Although you can technically afford your pre-approval amount, it’s the ceiling — and it doesn’t account for other monthly expenses or problems like a broken dishwasher that arise during homeownership, especially right after you buy. Shopping with a firm budget in mind will also help when it comes time to make an offer.
In a competitive real estate market with limited inventory, it’s likely you’ll bid on houses that get multiple offers. When you find a home you love, it’s tempting to make a high-priced offer that’s sure to win. But don’t let your emotions take over. Shopping below your pre-approval amount creates some wiggle room for bidding. Stick to your budget to avoid a mortgage payment you can’t afford.