As a first-time homebuyer, there are many things you'll learn and experience as you go through the process of buying your first home. Having support from someone who’s already been through the process can be immensely helpful.
If you’re in need of some friendly advice, you’ve come to the right place! Here are six things I wish I had been told as a first-time homebuyer starting my homebuying journey...
Attend a First-Time Homebuyer Educational Course
Build your confidence by taking a homebuying class. You’ll learn the basics of what’s involved in purchasing a home, get useful educational materials, and learn about resources available to first-time homebuyers.
Since this is all new to you, don’t be afraid to ask questions in class. Now is the time to let the experts share their knowledge with you.
Organizations like the Minnesota Homeownership Center can connect you with reliable, helpful resources. Buyers that are accepted to Habitat’s homeownership program complete a series of educational seminars and trainings that prepare them for the responsibilities of homeownership.
Know the Area You Want to Live In
You won't just be living in your house, you'll be part of the neighborhood, too. When you find a house you like, visit the area at different times of day to get an understanding of what you may like (or not like) about the neighborhood.
Some things to consider when thinking about whether the location is a good match for you and your family:
- Commute to work
- Quality of local schools
- Proximity of shopping
- Access to public transportation
- Parks and greenspace
- Nearby industry
- Noise levels
- Traffic and parking
Find a Realtor You Like and Trust
The entire process will be much easier if you work well with your realtor.
A good realtor will want you to be informed, will respond to your requests quickly, and will help you through the process. Find a “buyer’s agent” that will be working for you, and make sure to take advantage of their guidance and their expertise.
Ask friends for recommendations of realtors that they were happy with, then interview those realtors to find one you want to hire.
Consider All Lending Programs
Before you start looking for a mortgage lender, make sure you look at the first-time homebuyer programs available to you at both the federal and local levels. Some buyers qualify for down payment assistance, low-interest loans, and more.
Here are a few links to get started:
- Minnesota Housing Start Up Program
- Hennepin County Housing Programs
- Ramsey County Housing Programs
- US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
Mortgages can be complex, and the lender you choose should make sure you understand your loan. They should also clearly explain the features of different types of loans, and be clear about the total cost of the loan you choose (including earnest money, down payment, fees, and interest rates).
Get Pre-Approved for a Loan Early in the Process
Pre-approval for a mortgage loan allows you to know your spending limits. By looking at your assets, debt, credit, and income, the lender will inform you of how much you’re approved to borrow. This ensures you’re looking at houses in your price range.
Pre-approval also makes you ready to make an offer quickly when you find the perfect house.
Know What You Want, But Remain Flexible
Some of the best advice is also the simplest: remember to stay patient during this process. Create a list of your needs and wants in advance, but learn to be flexible to avoid being disappointed.
Expect that any house you buy will have some issues and know how to look for “good bones” rather than appealing decoration. Following this strategy will help you avoid repairs and other issues, and you might even discover that settling for a less attractive house allows you to get a lower price on a house in a great location.
If you're looking for more information on buying your first home, read our comprehensive first-time homebuyer guide or download it by clicking the button below!