25 Useful Tips for First-Time Home Buyers
It’s the most important purchase you’ll ever make, yet little mistakes may cost you a lot of money. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and make mistakes that could lead to regret down the road.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, it’s crucial to know what to expect and what questions to ask, in addition to knowing where the risks are. Set yourself up for success with these 25 tips we’ve prepared for first-time home buyers.
Tips for First-time Home Buyers
1. Make a list of your needs
You may have always dreamt of a home with three bedrooms and a spacious yard, but have you thought about what you really need in a home? Do you want your children to share a room or do they each need a separate bedroom? Do you need a space for a home office? Take some time to think about your current demands and what you might need in the future.
2. Compare mortgage rates
Before you make a decision, make sure you’ve spoken to different banks and compared the costs. Try to do this even before you make a decision so that you’ll have plenty of time to make a comparison.
3. Choose a real estate agent carefully
A good real estate agent will search the market, find a home that fits your needs, and will assist you with the negotiation and closing process. When speaking to possible agents, inquire about their experience working with first-time homebuyers in your area and how they intend to assist you in your search.
4. Check the neighborhood
Make sure you examine the neighborhood properly. Go to shops and supermarkets. Chat with the sellers. Are the streets jammed with cars? Is it a quiet area? Are there any parks nearby? Walk around the neighborhood at different times of the day to get a better insight. If you have time, consider staying in a hotel for a night and experiencing the area fully.
5. Bring along a friend
Attending a house viewing alone is never a good idea. Either bring your spouse or a friend or go with an estate agent to the viewing. Having someone to ask for a second view is always beneficial.
6. Take notes during the viewing
Always make sure you have a pen while you’re viewing a house. Write down all the details so as not to confuse things later on.
7. Don’t forget to take pictures
After a while, all houses will look the same. This is why taking pictures is helpful as you can go through the shots once the viewings are complete and you’re trying to make a decision. Real estate agents are usually fine with photoshoots but you can ask depending on the situation.
8. Ask as many questions as you can
Pose as many questions as possible before submitting an offer, and receive essential responses in writing. Nothing is off-limits. How many offers has the property had? If it’s flat, what are the service charges?
9. Try to view the house at different times of the day
Viewing the house in the morning will make you notice problems more easily. Plus, you’ll see how much sunlight it gets. Viewing the houses in the evening is crucial too as you’ll get to find out the level of the noise when the neighbors are back from work.
10. Get home insurance quotes
Before you sign any contracts, get house insurance quotes to be sure you have adequate coverage. This could reveal difficulties, such as if the home is located in a flood-prone location.
11. Check out what’s going up in the neighborhood
Google the neighborhood and see if there are any projects coming up. Maybe a new shopping mall is going to block the traffic or the park will be removed. If possible, chatting with the neighbors will help a lot too.
12. Go through your checklist
When you’re viewing the house, make sure you have a checklist that you can refer to. Here is a sample checklist. Make additions depending on your priorities.
- Examine the ceilings for cracks, brown stains, slow drips, and leaks
- Look for signs of damp. Some common signs are patches of dark or discolored plaster or walls, wallpaper that has been lifted or peeled, and a musty smell
- Check the light switches and see if they’re working properly
- Examine if all doors and windows close properly
- Inquire about the wiring’s situation and ask if it needs an update
- Check the water pressure and the plumbing
- Examine the heating and see if all radiators are working
- Check if your mobile phone is working and make some calls to see if the signal is strong
13. View as many houses as you can
It’s normal to get excited when you view a house that fits your criteria. Be patient. Make sure you view other houses too before you make a commitment. This will also give you the chance to make a comparison.
14. What is the resale value?
If you don’t think you’ll live in the house forever, think about the simplicity of resale. This is important as some minor issues that you don’t care about might be an obstacle during the resale. Especially if the house has been on the market for a while, you’d better think about why it hasn’t been sold.
If you’re buying a rental property, make research about rents too.
15. Get a house survey
Homebuyer surveys might help you prevent unexpected maintenance bills in the future. Obtaining a survey for a house or flat will provide you with an estimate of how much you will need to invest in the property after you purchase it. Choose from a few different types of property surveys. If you’re buying an older property, you should get more than just a simple survey because it may reveal issues you didn’t foresee.
16. Talk to the neighbors
If you get the chance, talk to the neighbors. Ask if they’re having any problems with their house. You can also ask your questions about the neighborhood. Talking to them will give you an objective idea about the location.
17. Get quotes from relocation companies
If you’re going to work with a relocation firm, try to get quotes beforehand. Speak to as many companies as possible and see what their pricing is.
18. Check the outside of the property
It’s normal to be focused on the interior of the house however don’t skip checking the outside of the property too. Check if there are tide marks on the walls or if any loose tiles on the roof.
19. Ask if you can check the bills
Asking about the utility bills and council tax bills is very helpful. If you know what to expect, you can be prepared.
20. Inquire when you can withdraw
Before the contracts are exchanged, you can cancel the purchase at any time. However, you won’t be able to change your mind after that without incurring significant financial penalties. If the seller gives up, you have no legal right to ask for a refund for the costs. Wasted costs insurance is an option, speak to your lawyer and ask if it can be arranged.
21. Calculate the true cost
Buying a home is not as simple as a downpayment plus a mortgage. There will be additional costs such as surveys, mortgage insurance, and stamp duty. Make sure you’re aware of all of the extra expenditures associated with a house purchase.
22. Speak to the seller
Even if you don’t get the chance to meet the seller before the contract is made, make sure you make a contact before you get the keys. Ask the essential questions to make your life easier.
- Ask where the thermostat, gas, and electricity meters are
- Find out if the surfaces need special treatment
- Check if they have the instruction manuals for electrical items. Ask about the warranties too
23. Feel free to negotiate
As a buyer, know that you’re in control and have nothing to lose by negotiating. While an extra $10,000 or $20,000 may not seem like much, it all adds up when dealing with a seven-figure contract.
24. Make a purchase within your comfort zone
Buying your first house is supposed to be a happy experience, not a regretful one. Sticking to your budget will save you from disappointment. Never make an offer more than your budgeted purchasing price. You never know what might happen in the future that might cause financial hardship.
25. Don’t feel obligated
As a first-time homebuyer, you may not be familiar with the sellers and real estate agents. Don’t let yourself feel pressured when they’re taking you around the house. If you feel like they’re rushed, take a step back. Take time to make an objective decision.
There you have it. Hope these tips will help you to find the best house for you and your family.
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