Embarking on the journey of buying a home can be one of life's most exciting milestones. However, it can also be quite daunting, especially for first-time home buyers. First-time home buyers make up roughly 30% of all home buyers
each year. The thrill of owning your dream home can often be overshadowed by the sheer amount of information, preparation, and decisions that come with the process. But this shouldn’t deter you from beginning your adventure toward homeownership. Here are 14 vital tips to equip first-time home buyers in Larkspur with the knowledge they need to make their home search a rewarding one.
Tips for first-time buyers
Take a step back and make sure you’re ready for the commitment of owning a home
Owning a home is a long-term commitment. You’ll be responsible for mortgage payments and the maintenance, repairs, and potential renovations that come with being a homeowner. Can your finances handle these unexpected costs? Before committing to a loan, ensure you’re financially and mentally prepared for the responsibility of owning a home.
The importance of pre-approval
Obtaining a preapproval letter from a mortgage lender before you start house hunting can give you an edge over other buyers, especially in a competitive market. It shows sellers that you're a serious buyer and can afford their property. Being preapproved will also give you an idea of how much home you can afford, ensuring you stay within your budget limitations.
Keeping your credit in check
Maintaining a healthy credit score is crucial for securing a good interest rate. Regularly check your credit reports for errors, and keep your credit card balances low to ensure your credit score stays in good standing.
If your credit score is less than you’d like it to be, consider taking the time and effort to pay off any outstanding debts you have.
Saving up for the down payment
A down payment can be a significant part of your home purchase cost. Depending on your loan type, you could owe anywhere from zero to 20% percent
of the home purchase price. Start saving early, and consider down payment assistance programs if necessary. There are many grants available for first-time buyers that help pay toward the down payment.
Knowing your mortgage options
There are several types of home loans available, including conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans. Each has its pros and cons, so it’s important to work with a loan officer to understand which loan is best for you.
Don’t forget about the closing costs
Closing costs, which include loan origination fees, appraisal fees, and escrow deposits, can add up to 2-5% of the loan amount and must be paid at the time of closing. It’s imperative that you budget for these costs when saving up for a home.
Deciding on your must-haves and wants in a home
List your needs, non-negotiables, and nice-to-haves before you start house hunting. By doing so, it’ll help narrow down your home search. If you’re adding new members to your family, you might want a home that has several bedrooms and a nice backyard for children to play in. If you’re looking to downsize, you may want to consider a home with little maintenance and just enough space for you and your family to live comfortably.
When deciding on your must-haves in a home, you’ll also want to think about what neighborhood you’d like to live in. Would you like to live in a gated community with sought-after community amenities or a neighborhood featuring expansive lot sizes? Consider neighborhoods close to your place of work, top-rated schools, and attractions such as restaurants and shopping centers.
Enlisting the expertise of a real estate agent
A good real estate agent, especially one experienced with first-time homebuyers, can be a valuable asset when you begin looking at homes for sale. They can help you navigate the local market, submit competitive offers, and guide you through the closing process.
When interviewing potential agents, be sure to ask them about their sales record, if they have experience working with first-time buyers, how many years they’ve worked in the real estate market, and their communication style.
Making a confident offer
When you find your dream house, be confident in your offer. Your real estate agent can help you determine a competitive yet reasonable offer based on market conditions. Submitting an offer can often feel daunting, so lean on your agent during this time, as they’ll prove to be invaluable during negotiations.
The importance of a home inspection
Hire a professional to conduct a home inspection before finalizing your home purchase. An inspection can uncover potential issues that may need repairs or affect the home's value.
Sticking to your budget
No matter how much you love a property, stick to your budget. Remember, your monthly payment will include not only your mortgage payment but also property taxes and insurance. A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 28% of your gross income each month
on your mortgage payment.
Keep your paperwork organized
Buying a home requires a lot of paperwork, including your loan documents, contract, and insurance policy. Keep these documents in a safe place, as you’ll need them for tax purposes and potential future sales.
Never stop learning
The home-buying process can be complex. It’s important to continue learning during and after your home sale, so you can make informed decisions leading up to the closing table and beyond.
Work with Eric Schmitt
Marin County native Eric Schmitt is a high-performing real estate advisor with a decade of experience in luxury sales, marketing, negotiation, and customer service. His attention to detail and custom-tailored services for clients have made him one of the most successful experts in the industry. If you're looking at Larkspur homes for sale or have any questions about the Marin County real estate market, contact Eric Schmitt