Welcome back to the second part of our guide to first time home buying 101! If you missed our first installment, we covered some of the most common real estate terms that you’ll encounter as you go through the process of buying a new home—especially if it’s your first home.
And what a process it is! Buying a home is one of the most exciting things that you’ll do in your lifetime, and as you go through each new open house, you’ll find yourself imagining the future that you and your family will enjoy in that welcoming new space. From holidays and birthdays to an ordinary evening in the family room, your new home will be the center of so many amazing memories. It all starts when you begin the process of buying the house of your dreams.
If you missed the first part of our series, click here to familiarize yourself with some of the more common real estate terms you may encounter, and then come on back as we jump into some of the top tips for first time home buyers, gleaned from industry experts and people just like you…
Home Buying Tips for First Time Home Buyers:
Identify your new home needs, wants, and must-haves. We want all sorts of things from our dream home—and it’s possible to get many of them, even if you’re a first-time homebuyer. But it’s important to know what your priorities are. Talk with your family to determine what’s most important to you right now and in the coming years. Maybe it’s vital that your home be in a good school district or close to your work. Chances are, you’ll have to make some compromises, and knowing what’s most important can help you decide what to be flexible on.
Know the true cost of your new home. It’s more than the mortgage. A lot goes into owning a home, and not all of the costs are reflected in your monthly mortgage payment. You’ll also pay property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, and HOA dues. Then there are costs for routine maintenance, utility bills, and lawn care. Factor all of these things into your calculations when you’re determining how much you can afford. Keep in mind, HOA dues often offset other expenses (for example gym memberships) and at The Highlands, basic internet is included in your dues. (Some sections even include yard maintenance!)
Build up your down payment savings. The more money you have for a down payment, the less you’ll have the borrow, which means you’ll pay less in interest and have a lower monthly mortgage payment. If you’re planning to buy a house in the next few years, start saving today! Simply setting up automatic transfers from each paycheck into your savings account is a good start.
Protect your credit and pay down your debt. The better your credit score—and the less outstanding debt you have—the better the loan terms you’ll be offered when it comes time to buy a new home. Avoid opening a new credit line or making a big purchase (such as a new car) just before you plan to buy, as this can negatively impact your credit score and lead to less favorable loan terms.
Look into your mortgage options. Most people end up taking out a conventional fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage, so you might not be aware of other available options. FHA loans can help first-time homebuyers, while VA loans may be available to veterans and their families. Do a little research to find the loan option that’s best for you.
Pre-qualify before you begin shopping. Once you know what lender you would like to go with, talk with them before you even begin looking for a home to start the pre-qualification process. This will help you to know how much you can borrow, which, in turn, will help give you an idea of what houses you can afford.
After all this, we hope that you feel empowered—and not too overwhelmed—to start shopping for that perfect new home for you and your family! Keep in mind that The Highlands is now open for pre-sales of new homes in Montgomery County, TX just north of Houston. We’ll be happy to show you around the growing neighborhood, where the fun knows no boundaries and your future includes a lifestyle nestled in the great outdoors.
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