When you first decide to buy your first home, it’s easy to get carried away with excitement and end up rushing into things or jumping the gun on a house that might not be completely right for you. Hopefully, if you’re house hunting for the first time, you’ve already done some research and put some work into saving up some money for a down payment and making sure that your credit is the best it can be in order to get considered by lenders.
Unfortunately, even if you put the most work possible into getting yourself and your finances ready for purchasing a new home, the process of actually finding the right home for you and buying that home can be super arduous, and take an extremely long time. So how can you make sure you’re properly prepared for the process of buying a home, and try to make sure the process isn’t more drawn out than it has to be?
Avoid first-time home buyer mistakes and learn everything you need to know about the home buying process with our complete guide to house hunting.
What to Know Before House Hunting
Before you start looking for the right home for you, make sure you know what you’re actually looking for, and how much you can afford to spend on your new place. Start off the process right with these steps.
- Determine Your Price Range & Pre-Approval
Knowing what you can really afford before you start looking at houses will not only make sure that you’re being responsible in your house hunting process, but also that you don’t get your hopes up after looking at homes that are out of your range.
Establishing the maximum amount you can spend before you start will also let you have a more informed eye when you begin your search, and give you a realistic view of what things you’ll be able to have from your home, and which things you might have to compromise on to stay at your price point.
Before you start your hunt, also meet with a mortgage lender ahead of time to figure out not only a budget, but the amount you’ll be able to get approved for a loan for. Getting pre-qualified for a loan of a specific amount can give you a good idea of your budget and if there’s anything you need to do to better financially prepare for the home buying process.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is also imperative for your home buying process. This is more in-depth than just getting pre-qualified, and will put you ahead in your house hunt. Having your pre-approval letter with you when looking at homes or making an offer will let sellers know that you’re serious about your offer and that you’re a credible buyer.
- Figure Out What You’re Looking For
Avoid just going to see whatever kind of house catches your eye, and jumping at whichever one is flashiest. Make a list to have with you not only when visiting homes, but even just to look online.
This will help you stay focused on what you like, be able to eliminate homes that aren’t going to fit your lifestyle, and will give you a way to easily compare the homes that pass your initial tests.
Don’t just make a wish list that revolves around the cosmetic aspects you’re looking for, either. Include structural elements that you can’t compromise on or that can’t be easily changed. Don’t get sidetracked or overfocused on cosmetic things like paint color can be changed quickly and without much hassle.
- Get in the Zone
Don’t let yourself fall victim to the pressures of the house hunt or other people’s opinions on the home you’re interested in buying (unless they are genuine concerns about the home’s integrity!).
Don’t be pressured to make a decision super quickly, or listen to agents who try to get you to do so. Don’t pick, make an offer, or make a decision on a property unless you’re 100% sure and know this property is right for you.
House Hunting Tips for Beginners
In addition to making a list of what you’re looking for in a home and successfully getting pre-approved for a mortgage, make sure you’re in the right space to begin the house hunting process and have the right tools at your fingertips to find the right place for you.
Here are some additional tips to set you up for a successful house hunt:
- Have your pre-approval mortgage letter ready to go. This will make you a credible buyer and put you ahead in your process.
- Interview real estate agents. Having the right agent on your side who will find the right place for you (and at the right price!) will make your hunt so much easier. Having a professional on your side who will negotiate and get you what you’re looking for.
- Research the housing market. Determine what you need to know about the current state of things. Are interest rates high or low? Is it a buyer’s market? A seller’s market? Are there any specific housing price trends that you should be aware of in the area you’re looking for? Figure out what’s going on with the market and avoid any possible pitfalls.
- Find the Right Neighborhood. Figure out where you want to live, and look for up-and-coming neighborhoods that might see a lot of development in the coming years. Getting in on these areas early can let you get a home in the right area for the right price, and might even allow you to sell in the future for much more than you paid.
- Be Realistic. Know your budget and core requirements for your future home, and manage your expectations. Not every place you look at is going to be a good fit, and you need to make sure you know what you can realistically afford to have in your new place.
- Be Critical of Potential Issues. When viewing houses, keep a critical eye out for any large or structural issues that can cause a lot of problems later on. Look past cosmetic things, but don’t ignore big problems just because you think a house is cute. Plus, never skip a home inspection.
- Beware of Hidden Costs. Keep an eye out for any hidden costs that might come with your home. Think things like closing costs and additional fees that could end up costing you a lot of money.
Where to Look for a New Home
Thankfully, screening and looking at homes has never been easier for buyers than now. There are tons of websites and apps out there to go through listings and find places that look interesting.
You should still work with an agent to get an inside scoop on homes that may not be listed publicly. Having a professional on your side will also allow you to have someone to guide you when going through listings and negotiate once you’ve found a place you like.
The following are the current most popular sites and apps for home buyers in 2022:
Looking directly at listings on various realty company websites can also be a huge advantage, as some companies may only post their listings there, or just more than what they do on sites like Zillow and Trulia.
These websites and apps make it easier than ever to scout home listings with ease, but as is the case with anything online, make sure to vet listings and ensure that the listing is real and not a scam or a fake. Beware of anyone who wants money, or who is hesitant to set up a home showing.
If you need help finding a real estate agent, look at sites like Estately, Compass or Century 21 (or a similar realty company) to connect with an agent who will work with your needs as their top priority. You can also look through properties and listings on these sites.
Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid
Getting swept up or overwhelmed by the home buying process is incredibly easy to do, especially as a first-timer. However, keep in mind that being able to even be in the state to make the purchase of your own home is a huge accomplishment that you should be proud of. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t find the right place immediately! Don’t settle on anywhere that’s not right for you.
However, now isn’t the time to have rose-colored glasses on when looking at houses. The following are some common first-time home buyer mistakes to avoid making when buying a home:
- Not getting pre-approved for a mortgage ahead of time
- Not using a professional real estate agent in your search
- Not making a wishlist
- Not staying realistic with expectations
- Not paying attention to structural factors
- Skipping a home inspection
- Passing on a structurally sound home because of cosmetic factors
- Giving in to outside pressure or opinions
- Not prioritizing location
Like we said, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. It’s easy to do as a first-time home buyer, but you need to pay attention and do your due diligence to ensure you’re getting the right place for you and your needs. Avoid these home buying mistakes and you’ll be set up for success.
Looking to get set up in your new home the right way? Once you’ve found the right home for you, make sure you work with the right movers who will give you the best relocation experience possible. The best professional movers for your move are Bekins Van Lines. We’ve got the best moving services to match anything you need for your moving process.