Buying Your First Home? 5 Tips for Fearless Buying!
By Virginia Kettler-Blackburn, Broker/Owner, Sherlock REALTORS
Many first-time buyers are apprehensive when embarking upon the homebuying process. A new experience coupled with unknowns (mortgages, inspections, terms) can create a sense of uncertainty and anxiety.
As past-president of the Bryan-College Station Regional Association of Realtors, I wrote a column for The Eagle newspaper each Sunday for a year. The tips in this article are gleaned from those weekly columns and from Texas Realtors articles. I would call them the most powerful advice to help any first-time buyer navigate the fast-moving waters of buying a home.
TIP #1: How do I start the process?
The best way to start (no, not the internet!) is to hire an experienced REALTOR that specializes in the city or area you want to buy in. The REALTOR’S fee is generally paid by the seller, so you will not be paying anything for their services. Really! Hiring a professional to guide you through the entire process will enable you to sift through the mountains of ads and marketing ploys to get to the “nitty-gritty.” Not only will your REALTOR educate you throughout the process, she or he will help you find a good lender, keep you up-to-date on what to expect and help you find “just the right home” to meet your needs and wants. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using Realtor.com or similar websites for your searches. However, the best and most dependable impartial advice will be from your REALTOR. It’s that simple.
TIP #2: What Can I Afford?
Your REALTOR and lender will help on this formula. Set your budget for a home. It’s tied to your income and debts/monthly expenses as well as your credit score and employment. There are many first-time buyer financial assistance programs available as well, so be sure to check those out. A good website for this is tdhca.state.tx.us/homeownership.
TIP #3: Find the Balance. Narrow down your Criteria.
No home is perfect, no neighborhood or area is without some flaws. You may find that instead of buying a newly built home you should buy a little older resale home. Prioritizing your criteria will help keep you on track, and away from emotional decisions. There’s nothing wrong with being a little picky, but realize that no house, new or resale, is perfect. Keeping your expectations realistic will also keep you happier in the long run. Also, as we all know there are great websites to use in your home search. Just remember these are only one of many tools to use in your search.
TIP #4: Inspections are golden.
Your REALTOR will strongly recommend you have inspections done on your home before closing, during the option period. Inspections are especially critical to do on resale homes. Your inspectors will provide you detailed reports of items in the home that may need attention or repair. The option period (normally the first week or two of the contract) is the time to negotiate those repairs with the seller. You will want to have as much information as possible about your new home, and have it in the best possible condition when you move in.
TIP #5: Closing Day Jitters – NOT!
The day has finally arrived. You are closing on your new home! Your REALTOR has guided you through the process and all title work has been done by the title company and the attorney. When you arrive at your home closing (usually at a local title company) you will sign documents that legally transfer title of the property to you. Your down payment will be collected at closing, and this is credited toward your sales price. You may meet the sellers of the home at this time as well, and it can be a great time to get hints on how to use the sprinkler system or the security system. By this time you are comfortable with the process and excited to get the keys to your new home. Congratulations are in order!
Last but not least, remember that buying your own home is an investment in your quality of life and your financial future. What a superb decision. Time to enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Virginia Kettler-Blackburn is a Realtor and Broker/Owner of Sherlock Realtors, class of ’77 BBA & ’99 MS, Texas A&M University and 2016 Realtor of the Year, BCS Reg. Assn. of Realtors. Contact her at 979-268-1791 of firstname.lastname@example.org. She welcomes your questions!