More than half of my business comes from first time home purchasers, and their enthusiasm and excitement is contagious! It’s one of the best parts of being a Realtor. Almost everyone has the same concerns, and most buyers will ask for advice and guidance on selecting the right home and neighborhood for them.
Here are my top 10 common sense TIPS to buying your first home:
1. Don’t “over buy” or extend yourself! This is especially true if you are utilizing a large portion of your savings to make a down payment. Even if you are a self-described “homebody”, you will not enjoy being house poor.
2. Sometimes a larger property is not better. With a functional floor plan, properties with smaller square footage can appear larger than properties boasting a higher square footage number.
3. Location, location, location – but in reference to your lifestyle. In other words, if you want to walk to restaurants, gym, dry cleaners, the pub – choose a location that will afford you that lifestyle. You might be able to get a larger, newer, etc. in the ‘burbs, but you will resent getting in your car on the weekends to get to the places you want to go. This works in the opposite direction as well – if being in the city is something you can stand only during the week for work, then consider moving out of it to improve your quality of life. BUT, beware of the next item. . .
4. Bear in mind that commutes can ruin people’s lives. If you hate a long commute, it will not be worth it for your dream home. Trust me on this one. I hear it from clients all of the time – they bought what they always wanted, and spend three hours a day taking planes, trains and automobiles to get to and from work.
5. Don’t be put off by necessary aesthetic improvements. It really is very easy to paint and change flooring, and generally not too expensive.
6. Know your limitations. If you hate cutting the grass and gardening, maybe a single family home with a yard isn’t for you. Similarly, if you like your private space and can’t fathom living in close proximity to others, then condo living might not be for you.
7. ALWAYS get the home inspection. Even in a condo. Even in a brand-new property.
8. Ask to see utility bills. There is nothing worse than shopping within a budget to plan for monthly expenses, only to move in and find out your energy bill is several hundred dollars a month.
9. Visit your target property at all times of the day. If you always visit the property during the day, go there at night or on the weekends. The landscape of some neighborhoods or roads can change dramatically at different times of the day.
10. Trust your gut. While there are many logical considerations factored into buying your first home, don’t ignore the voice in the back of your head that either warns or encourages you.
And most important – have fun!!!