Congratulations!  You’ve decided to take the leap and buy your first home. But what does that really mean? Many people who are looking to buy their first home have no idea what steps are required to buy a house. It’s not as simple as making an offer and calling the movers, so today we’ll walk you through the process of buying your first home!

How to Determine Your Home Buying Budget

The first step to buying your first home is to determine your budget. This might seem like an obvious step, but netting out your income versus recurring bills and discretionary spending will give you a realistic idea of what you can comfortably afford.  Be sure to factor in expenses that are in the near future, such as a new vehicle or childcare. You’ll want to make sure you have a good handle on your finances before you take this important first step.  Make sure you factor your down payment into your budget as well. Average down payments vary by region, so ask your realtor or do your own research into how much you may be expected to put down on a new home.

Median Home Prices in the US
Median Home Price by State 2023 - Wisevoter

Steps to Take Before You Buy Your First Home

Once you’ve decided on your budget, it’s time to get approved for a mortgage. This will involve working with a lender who will review all your financial information and determine the loan amount you qualify for. Having a pre-approval not only saves time but will strengthen your position when putting in a home offer in a competitive market.

There are also different kinds of mortgages you can get.

  • A fixed-rate mortgage, which is ideal for buyers who are looking for a home they’ll be staying in for a long time. The payment rate for a fixed-rate mortgage does not change.
  • An adjustable-rate mortgage, which offers the ability to pay a set monthly payment, the rate of which does not change for the duration of the mortgage.

If you don’t see yourself staying for an extended period, an adjustable-rate mortgage might be more desirable to you. Adjustable-rate mortgages allow you to pay less in the short term but may require you to pay more later.  

Consider carefully which type of mortgage is right for your situation. Some websites offer mortgage calculators that can help you predict how much you’ll pay for a mortgage. Give it a try to get a rough idea of how much you’ll be paying.

Ways to Find a Great Real Estate Agent

Next, it’s time to find a real estate agent! A real estate agent can be a tremendous resource throughout the buying process. Ask your friends for referrals, read reviews, and meet with multiple agents until you find someone who understands your needs. You might look for a local real estate agent that understands the area that you like and is familiar with everything about the area to help you find the right home for your situation.  

Steps to Finding the Perfect First Home

Now it’s finally time to start your house hunt! There are a variety of apps available to help narrow your search to the appropriate budget, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, school district, or other factors.

It’s important to focus on your needs versus your wants.  Remember: aesthetics can be changed, but something like location or lot size cannot. Be sure that you’re considering changes that might occur while you’re living in the house and whether your desired property will be able to accommodate them. Don’t get bogged down by small, easily changed details like paint colors or flooring; try to think about the big picture.

Once you find “the one”, talk with your realtor and lender about the best negotiation tactics.  In addition to a down payment, you may be responsible for closing costs and an inspection, so don’t forget to factor those in when you’re considering your budget. These factors vary by state, so be sure to ask your realtor and do your own research into what closing costs you may be required to cover.Buying your first home is a great accomplishment, but it does take work. The preliminary steps of first-time home ownership should be carefully considered before you jump into buying a property. Remember to be patient, do your research and make the best decision for now and your future!

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