Being a first-time homebuyer may seem daunting but don't worry, we've helped thousands of
folks purchase their first home. Here are 10 valuable lessons from first-time homebuyers that
can help put you on the path to home ownership.
1. Enlist the help of real estate professionals
When you don't have the experience yourself, then you need to rely on those who do. It's not
that you can't purchase a home on your own, but obtaining the assistance of a trained
professional before embarking on one of the biggest purchasing decision in your life can protect
you from emotional, financial and legal hardship.
2. Attend a homebuyer education class
First time buyer classes will help explain the process as well as educate you on how to budget
and prepare your finances. Many first time buyer loan programs require a home ownership
course as part of the qualification process. You can find a list of local classes here:
http://www.mainehomeworks.org/ as well as online classes here: http://ehomeamerica.org/ (be
sure to select a hoMEworks Educator).
3. Think long-term - like REALLY long-term
Some people manage to move in and out of homes at a mind-boggling rate, which may lead you
to think that buying your first home isn't really much of a commitment. But you need to think
long-term when buying a home. The size and particulars of the home you buy should meet your
needs for at least the next ten years, even if you don't intend on staying in it for that long.
4. Budget for additional costs, including improvements
As soon as your new home becomes yours, you become responsible for all repairs and
improvements. These items should be factored into your spending budget, especially as you
prepare for big ticket seasonal expenses like heating oil or snow removal. It's easy to under
estimate all the little costs that go into keeping your home running, thereby causing upkeep to
fall by the wayside.
5. Read any homeowners association contract before buying
The neighborhood homeowners association often has bylaws and stipulations that can impact
your plans for your home. Hoping to rent out your home while you're out of state for half the
year? Not if it's against the bylaws of the homeowners association. Read before you buy.
6. Hold off until you have a down payment
First-time homebuyers can sometimes be too eager to snag a dream home before they're
ready. If you qualify for a no-money-down loan, you should still consider putting as much money
down as you can. Skipping or minimizing the down payment often requires mortgage insurance
and in the long run this can mean more money out of your pocket.
7. Pay attention to the home inspection
The home inspection is your last chance to dig into potential problems before they become
100% your very real problems. Make sure your home inspector is reputable and trustworthy,
and then really dig into any issues that are presented. You may decide to negotiate after the
inspection if the issues could or should impact your buying decision.
8. Look deeper
Often a "staged" home -- one that has been setup to look like it came from the pages of a
magazine -- looks better than a home that is lived in. However, a home that is actually in use will
tell you more about how the space gets utilized. Are the kitchen appliances arranged in an
awkward manner? That may be due to a lack of outlets. A home may require substantial
renovations to use it the way it has been staged, so look deeper and picture how you would use
9. Try more than one bidding strategy
You may think that because you negotiated your way through a really good deal for your new
car, that you can apply the same strategies to buying your first home. But settling on a purchase
price with a homeowner is different from anything else you've tried. If you continuously shoot for
houses that are at or above your maximum price point, hoping to negotiate down, you may keep
getting outbid. Try other tactics like keeping your bid close to the asking price if the seller agrees
to cover or contribute to the closing costs. But keep in mind that the people on the other end of
the negotiation are just like you and over-aggressive tactics may do more harm than good.
10. Leave emotion out of it
The biggest piece of advice first-time homebuyers have to offer is to leave emotions out of the
decision and to rely on common sense and facts. Buyer's remorse is a bitter pill to swallow
when it comes in the form of your first home. It's way too easy to get swept up in the moment
and over commit or take action without fully thinking it through.