Purchasing a home is one of the biggest decisions you make in life. Not only is it the start of a new chapter, but it’s also usually the single biggest financial investment most of us will ever make. So it’s one area of your life where it really pays to fully understand what you’re dealing with. As a first time buyer, you don’t know what you don’t know – there’s a lot to discover, and you need to be asking the right questions and making much needed preparations before you move house. You have the power to make your first house purchase a great experience, so start by covering off all your homework and remember that when it comes to buying a home, knowledge really is power.
Understand Your Credit
Getting a mortgage as a first-time buyer can be quite an intimidating process. There are so many deals and rates that it can make your head spin. It’s extremely important to understand what kind of budget you have to work with, before you start looking at properties. After all, there’s no point in finding your dream home if it’s way out of your price range. So begin by understanding your own financial position and what you are likely to be able to afford. Check your credit rating as this is the key to the loan deals you are going to be offered. Lenders will extend much better rates and lower deposit requirements to those who have a good score, so if you can, it’s worth taking steps to improve your credit score before you start applying for deals. This move can save you thousands over the term of your agreement.
Assess The Condition Of Your Home
When you know what your budget is and you’ve started looking at properties on the market, it’s important to go into the process with a realistic view. For example, opting for a fixer-upper that needs extensive home renovation is a strategy that may allow you to purchase a bigger plot or move to a nicer area that would otherwise be out of reach. But you need to be crystal clear about what construction work needs doing and how you are going to fund it. There’s a huge difference between a home with dated decor where a lick of paint and a new kitchen will make it right, and properties that need structural work to make them habitable. If you do want to go ahead with something like this, look at the property with a contractor if possible to get a clearer estimate of the cost of the works you want to do. Find a home inspector who is registered to the American Society of Home Inspectors to identify any issues. Look at everything, from repairing the roof, to removing internal walls, or even calling out pest control companies and add it all up. If it still makes financial sense, you can negotiate a better price and you have potential to make money even after everything you will need to pay out, then it may be a good idea – if not, don’t commit to the sale.
Maintenance, upkeep and repair costs
Some people choose to take on a project or a fixer-upper but if you’re looking for a low-maintenance property, or you’re keen to avoid unexpected costs, it’s wise to inspect houses that make your short-list very closely. Experts in water and property damage restoration and contractors like roofers and builders can provide general maintenance and emergency repairs, but it’s important to be aware of existing problems and estimate upkeep costs before you buy. If there are obvious signs of damp, the house has been damaged by flooding in the past, there is structural damage, or you’ve spotted mold in the bathrooms, seek expert advice and get quotes before you submit an offer. Always calculate the total cost before you proceed to make sure the acquisition comes in on-budget.
Look Past The Basics
If the carpets, drapes or wall colors aren’t to your liking – so what? Don’t get distracted by these minor details. Replacing them isn’t that expensive, especially if you learn to DIY things yourself, and putting your stamp on a place is really half the fun. It is sometimes possible to pick up a home that others are passing on, simply because the decor is unappealing and transform it into something a lot sleeker. Break it down to the things that you can’t change – the location, the neighborhood and other factors which you have to be on board with. Everything else can be changed over time. Take into account things like the commuting distance to work and what the schools are like if you plan on having a family in the future. Once you have found a home you really like, make sure you view it several times. It’s very easy for issues to be disguised in certain weather conditions or times of day that may become apparent when you take a second look. First viewings can also be quite overwhelming, especially if you’ve done a few close together, so it’s important to revisit and take a closer look to identify any issues and make sure you really do love the home.
With a clear head and a little research, you can find the home of your dreams and take on the next chapter with confidence.
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