Home ownership is considered one of the major milestones of ‘’adulthood.’’ The hunt for your first house can be a very exciting time, but it can also be filled with stress. There is a lot you may not know about the process and this can lead to regretful purchases. But, if you arm yourself with certain nuggets of wisdom, you can go into the process with a clearer head. Here are some tips for first-time home buyers.
Consider the True Cost of Owning Your Home
Many people go out and get pre-approved for a mortgage before they start looking at houses. This is smart since it shows you are a serious buyer and it lets you know what kind of money you are working with. But, you have to consider so much more when deciding on the home you want. Think about property taxes and insurance. Remember you are now responsible for maintaining your home, not a landlord, so you want to have money set aside for repairs.
Carefully track your spending to see how much of a mortgage payment you would truly be comfortable with. You may think now that you will not mind cutting out vacations or sacrificing other things to make room for a bigger mortgage payment, but chances are you will. If you end up sacrificing all your money to your house, it is a decision you will likely come to regret. Think carefully about the areas you are considering and what you truly value; in Canada, for example, a home in the prairies is one of the cheapest around, and it may be a perfect fit for your needs. If you want to live in higher-cost areas, think carefully if you really will reap the benefits of all that is on offer.
Get Clear on Needs and Wants
Figuring out exactly what type of house you want will take you a long way in getting the one best suited for you. Make a list of things you would want in a dream home, the things that are important to you, and finally, the non-negotiables. If you are buying a home with a partner, he should make his own list. While it would be great to find a house with everything, you probably will not, but by knowing what is the most important elements that cannot be compromised, you increase your chances of settling on a house that you will be happy with, even if it is not your ‘’dream’’ home.
Get All Your Ducks in a Row
There is all sorts of paperwork and information required when buying a home. First things first, check your credit report—do not assume that it is correct and the score is what it is. Mistakes get made frequently. Incorrect credit limits can negatively skew your debt to available credit ratios. If you have ever had an account in collection, make sure it is not reported more than once by two different agencies (sometimes debts get sold from one company to the next.) If you are self-employed or a sales rep who works strictly on commission, your income will be scrutinized much more closely—find out what type of documentation you will need to provide.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things real estate.