A Renter’s Guide to Buying Your First Home

If you feel like you’ve been renting forever and you’re ready to take the plunge, there are a lot of questions to ask yourself and a lot of decisions to make. Buying your first home is one of the things in life that’s definitely worth doing right.

Don’t just leap in. Let us break it down for you so you can get started off right.

Build or Buy

There are pros and cons aplenty here. Your choice will depend on where you’re looking to move, what your time frame is, how much control you need or want over the final product, and more. You’ll need to do research to find out which route will best fit your own needs.

Goals

Take some time to think about what exactly you want from this home. Are you planning to stay there long-term? Is this a starter house or a maybe-forever house? Knowing your goals for the next 5-10 years will help you make better decisions as homebuyers.

Budget

Talk to experienced homeowners about what their unexpected costs have been. If you know someone in the area, see what you can find out about energy costs, utilities, and property taxes. You may need to build in extra for repairs, renovations, landscaping, insurance, and new furniture.

Time Frame

Do you need a new home right now because of a new job or impending move, or do you have time to plan, shop, or even build your dream home? If you don’t have to rush, don’t rush. Being overexcited and jumping in before you’re ready can mean a lot of regrets.

Finances

Income isn’t the only financial factor in choosing the right home. Make sure you know your credit scores and read up on different types of mortgages. Find out what interest rates you’re likely to qualify for so you can determine your ideal price range.

Taxes

There are two sides to this coin. On the one hand, you need to consider property taxes when you’re calculating your new home budget. On the other hand, there are tax credits and incentives available for new and first-time homebuyers. Learn what’s out there and what applies to you. Tax breaks won’t help you if you don’t know how to get them!

Needs and Wants

Of course, the fun part is imagining all the things you’d love to have, all the possibilities and dreams of the perfect floor plan and landscaping and bedrooms and Jacuzzi tubs. Don’t stop dreaming, but do be practical about dividing those dreams between things you want and things you truly need. Depending on budget, some of the wants might have to wait.

Shopping for an Agent

As a first-timer, you’re going to need help. Getting the right agent to help you through the process will make life much easier. Talk to multiple agents at multiple companies to find someone you trust and feel good working with.

Again, take your time. The better you prepare, the better your outcome will be.

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