Below is a short list of things you will want to keep in mind as your buying your first home. If you’re a first time home buyer in Northern Virginia & DC, get in touch with The Canto Group Today!
1. Pick Your Team – This is a great way to start, you will want to pick the team that will get you from the starting point through the finish line. The two key players you will want to start with picking are your realtor and your lender. The other team members associated with the transaction will be your home inspector and title company to name a couple.
2. Get on the same page – In situations where people are buying together, whether it be an engaged couple, husband and wife, brother and sister or anything in between and combination there of, it’s important that you both understand what you are looking for. This is a huge financial and life decision you are about to make so be sure to have in depth conversations to understand each other so everyone is happy.
3. Know what you’re looking for – This piggy backs on “get on the same page”, your realtor should have a buyer’s consultation and discuss in detail what it is you’re looking for. We have a detailed list of questions that will dig deep into what you’re looking for and hopefully we can get a clear idea that helps everyone throughout the process. Click HERE for more information on the buyer’s consultation.
4. Set your budget – Once you get pre-approved from a lender, you may find that you can afford more than you expected. It’s important to realize that just because you can afford something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should stretch yourself. Examine what your monthly expenses are and set a budget of where you want to be moving forward.
5. Scout the area – When you are out looking at properties, don’t just pay attention when you enter the property, you should be taking in the neighborhood and surrounding areas. A home is much more than what’s inside the walls, you may be moving to a whole new city or state, so before you write an offer, be sure you like what you see!
6. Don’t waste your time online – Once you’ve began working with a realtor and they set up your search criteria on the MLS, they will send you any listings that meet your criteria. Some of that criteria can include price, location, bed/bath configuration, lot size and more. You don’t need to waste hours of your time on websites like Zillow or Trulia to find your next home, if it matches your criteria and it’s on the market, it will be in your inbox every morning.
7. Go to open houses – Open houses can be a great way to familiarize yourself with the market and inventory. If it is a house you’re interested in, it can be a great way to spend time in the home. When you go out with your realtor you may be seeing multiple houses and have a schedule to follow, at an open house, you can take as much time as you want to take everything in, you can squeeze as many homes as you want in any given Sunday.
8. No home is perfect – It’s important to realize that no home is perfect. Especially being first time home buyers, you may have to make concessions on some things. Take time to really think about the difference between your “wants” and “needs”, have a list of must haves and wants and be prepared to forego some wants if necessary.
9. Location, Location, Location – Location is one of the biggest factors in real estate and it’s something that you can never change. Be sure to pay attention to the location of your future home and also be aware of new development/changes to surrounding areas as well as they will certainly have an impact on your home as well.
10. Be prepared to make a decision – It’s important in certain markets to be able to make a quick decision. Once you’ve seen 5-7 properties in a specific market and price range, you should have a good idea what to expect. You will want to be ready to submit an offer once you see the right property, if you drag your heels you may miss it.
Writing the Contract
11. Write a letter –Writing a brief letter to the seller to accompany your offer can make a huge difference. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just a quick intro from you and a couple of points on why you love the home can be the difference between getting a home or not. I know of situations where sellers have taken a slightly lower offer because they liked the buyer’s letter.
12. Don’t get carried away in negotiations – When you find the right home and before you submit the offer, decide a maximum price you will pay for it. If there are multiple offers don’t let yourself get swept up in wanting a home and get carried away and over-pay. Decide this max number and stay under it during all negotiations.
13. Don’t get attached – In our market there are often multiple offers or some homes that got away, just move on and look to the future. Everything happens for a reason and we always end up finding the right home for you.
14. You Ratified a contract! Don’t Freak out!!! – Once you get under contract all these numbers you’ve been looking for months start to get real, just let this all settle in and take a deep breath. Your lender has ensured you are fully qualified for the contract price, everything is going to work out!
15. Don’t fear the home inspection results – The home inspector is going to go through the home and give you a long list of everything that’s wrong with the property. Being a first time home buyer, these lists can be overwhelming but your realtor should be able to evaluate the severity of these lists and negotiate repairs. For more information on the home inspection, read our blog post “Know your Home Inspection”.
16. Patience is a virtue –The loan process is a very detailed process in which every dollar must be accounted for, the lender may be asking for documents throughout the whole contract phase. Always be patient and get them the required documents in a timely manner if you want to close on time.
17. Walk through isn’t always a breeze – The walk through occurs in the days leading up to settlement and you are checking on repairs that were done and to ensure the property is in the same condition as when you wrote the contract. These can go off without a hitch and in the excitement of closing you can rush through them, take your time and check everything to ensure you get the property in the condition it’s meant to be.
18. Bring your ID and Certified funds to closing – Make sure you have your Drivers License or another legal form of identification to settlement, if you have two, bring them both just in case! Also bring a certified check or wire the funds to the settlement company, a personal check won’t cut if for the rest of your down payment!
Celebrate!!!! You own a home!!!
We hope this list will help as you embark on your journey of home ownership! If you’re a first time home buyer in Northern Virginia & DC, get in touch with us today! Even if you’re a year out, I love to talk to first time home buyers, I always say it’s never too early to start the conversation! Also, read the rest of our First Time Home Buyer series!
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