Shopping for your first home should be exciting, but the search can quickly become overwhelming. This is likely the biggest purchase you have ever made, and you want to be sure to choose the perfect house. Fortunately, REALTORS® have been around the block a few times, so they know what house hunting practices work best. We have compiled advice from seasoned real estate professionals on the best things to do while searching for your dream home.
- Hire a REALTOR®
The first step in finding your future home should be hiring a REALTOR®. REALTORS® make the process easier by helping you locate properties, handling negotiations and navigating contracts. They know the ins and outs of the industry and can provide guidance and advice along the way. Keep in mind that there is a difference between REALTORS® and real estate agents, so choose carefully.
- Be open and honest with your agent
After you hire a REALTOR®, you must be upfront with them about your wants and needs, budget and anything else that impacts the hunt and purchase of a home. Withholding information may put a riff in your relationship with your agent or prevent you from obtaining a certain home.
“I can't help my buyer if they don't share with me concerns, limitations or expectations,” said Missouri REALTOR® .
- Have financing in place before you look
Before you begin searching, set in stone what you are willing to spend. This way you don’t fall in love with a house only to learn that it’s outside of your price range. Typically, you should be able to handle a mortgage three times your income. For more information, check out our financial advice for first time homebuyers.
- Do your research
Be familiar with the area you are purchasing in. If you don’t have kids, a good school district may not seem important, but a home in a low-ranking school district is difficult to resell. You may also want to research up-and-coming areas: homes in these communities can be great investments.
- Set your expectations
Before going into the house hunting process, sit down and evaluate what features are most important to you in a future home. What are your deal breakers: is a prime location nonnegotiable, or are you looking for a turnkey property? While ideally you could find everything you want in a house, realistically you will have to make some compromises. Talk with your agent about your budget and what you are looking for to set clear expectations so that you are not disappointed down the line.
- Be patient
Despite what reality TV broadcasts, you will probably look at more than three houses before finding your dream home. Do not get discouraged or angry if the process is taking longer than you had expected.
“This is not like going to the big box store and you get it right then,” said Missouri REALTOR® . “It takes time to process and get everything done properly. Be patient and it will happen.”
- Look past the little things
It can be easy to get caught up on dingy paint colors and threadbare carpet, but remember that those surface level features are relatively cheap and easy to fix. Don’t write off a good house just because it has popcorn ceilings.
- Visit twice
Before closing on a house, visit it twice. The first time you see a home you may be overcome with emotion, and you want to be sure to think with your head as well as your heart.
Buying your first home is a huge milestone and we hope you enjoy the process. Share your advice or homebuying experiences in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you have to say!