First time homebuyers are faced with a lot of questions. For most people, this is the biggest purchase they will ever make, and it’s not something that should be entered into lightly. It can be overwhelming and unfortunately difficult to find the answers you’re looking for. Looking back, there are a few things I wish I would have known when purchasing my first home that would have made my home buying process much easier.
First, know how much you can actually afford.
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of a mortgage payment and think that once you can afford a home you’re good to go. Make sure you consider all your utility costs as well as regular maintenance expenses, insurances, taxes and months where utility bills might be higher than normal such as the winter and summer months. You can use the Community Lending Affordability Calculator to help with your planning in this area.
Talk to your potential neighbors .
It might seem like a small thing at first, but your new neighbors can make or break your home living experience. If you have small children and are considering living in a neighborhood with young families, it’s important that you break out of your comfort zone. Try knocking on your potential neighbors’ doors and asking a few questions. In my experience, they are more than happy to meet you. They want to know about their neighbor too, and usually have more answers than you knew you had questions.
Don’t get too emotionally invested.
This was the hardest one for me. It’s so easy to walk into an open house and picture yourself living there, getting caught up in how you would arrange the furniture, what the kids’ rooms would look like, and even what color of paint you will use. While dreaming is one of the most exciting parts of purchasing a new home, it can cloud your judgement as well. Being excited is great, but just make sure you keep your eyes open for any major flaws or damages to the property that could seriously affect your future in the home.
Don’t try to do it all yourself.
Initially, I thought I could look for homes and apply for them on my own. Thankfully, I was introduced to Community Lending of America while looking for a home and it turned my process around. I liked that they took me seriously, had all the answers to my financial questions, told me about different types of loans I might qualify for, and walked me through the entire process. Their mortgage calculator, on their website, was just the start of all the ways they helped me.
If I had to pick just one thing I would have changed in my first home buying process, it would definitely be starting with a lender you trust, that treats you with respect and makes your process easier. Buying a home is one of the biggest and best decisions you’ll likely ever make. It can also be a simple experience when you know what to do and who to go to for help. Good luck on your journey!