7 Things To Be Aware of Before Buying a Home

Buying your first home can be an exhilarating life change — but there’s a lot of work involved many homeowners don’t anticipate. There are inspections, offers, counter-offers, and a mountain of paperwork before you get to the final closing of the sale. But what you may not know is that there are a lot of things to consider even before you get to the point of making an offer! Here are some of the most important things to be aware of before buying a home.

Have Patience

The first thing many prospective homeowners find out is how long it can actually take to find a home you like. You may be fortunate enough to find your dream home the first day you go looking — but you definitely shouldn’t count on it. It could take months or even years to find a home that fits your needs, and even then, you’re not likely to get everything you want. So it pays to be ready for the long haul.

Find the Right Agent

Most everyone will tell you that hiring a real estate agent is the smart choice; going it alone will exponentially increase the amount of work you have to do. But the wrong real estate agent — whether not entirely qualified or just a bad fit for you — could sell you the wrong home. Real estate agents typically want to sell a property quickly so they can earn their commission, but a great agent will put your needs first and do their best to match you with the right home.

Mind Your Credit

Applying for a home loan is never going to be much fun, but it can be even less fun if you have a low credit score. Mortgage lenders prefer clients with good credit scores, and if yours is lacking, you might find yourself hit with a higher interest rate or even get rejected for the loan altogether. If you have the time and means, work to rehabilitate your credit score as much as possible before applying.

Watch for Hidden Costs

One thing you’ll find out in a hurry when you start the home-buying process: everything costs more than you thought it would. Beyond the actual price tag on the home, there are loan origination fees, mortgage broker fees, inspection and appraisal fees, title fees, closing costs, and more. If you’re not ready, these up-front fees can be a significant financial drain. But there’s no need to panic just yet — do your research ahead of time, talk to your agent, and you should be fine.

Be Financially Prepared

Speaking of being financially prepared: home ownership isn’t cheap, as anyone who owns a home can tell you. After all the closing fees are over with and the home is yours, there will still be more expenses, such as property taxes, utilities, maintenance, and repairs. You’re likely to find owning a home will cost you significantly more than renting. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to mitigate those costs. For example, Kristine Lee at The Zebra offers some tips for first-time homebuyers, advising you to compare home insurance quotes to minimize your expenses and maximize your coverage.

Use Good Judgment

An old adage about home-buying goes: “buy with your head and not with your heart.” It’s natural to get emotionally invested in such a big life event, especially when you find that home that seems absolutely perfect. But it’s prudent to be realistic instead of idealistic. Not only are the chances of finding a home with everything on your wishlist quite low, but even if you do find what seems to be the perfect home, there might be problems that come with it. While looking for a home, do your best to keep a level head and focus on the most important factors, and don’t turn a blind eye to potential issues in the plumbing, wiring, or roof. You definitely don’t want to end up with buyer’s remorse when it comes to a house.

Consider the Future

Finally, take some time to consider your long-term plans. Even buyers who find their dream home don’t always stay there forever, and if you’re buying a “starter” home as a springboard to your real forever home, make sure not to overshoot your budget by getting a place with all the amenities. Do you plan to live there the rest of your life or just a few years before you move on elsewhere? The answer should play a big part in how much you’re willing to pay for the property.

Buying a home is one of the more stressful experiences you’re likely to go through, but the end result is truly life-changing. With patience and good judgment, you can avoid the most common pitfalls and find the home of your dreams.