Advice for First-Time Buyers

(Revised by Mary Stetson 2016)

  • Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.

  • Pre-Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You’ll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you’re interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.

  • List of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.

  • Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.

  • Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:

    • Keep track of  the multiple listings properties that you’ve considered, seen and liked in a Client Portal provided by your Realtor.  Include the best and worst features regarding location, layout and condition.

    • Keep track of your non-mls properties in google docs or drop box that is accessible to both you and your agent.

    • When viewing a home, keep your excitement in check.  This is especially important  if the seller’s agent or seller is on the property during the showing.  Some sellers may have nanny cams .. so best to save a glowing review for the recapp after you’ve left the property.  Gushing about how you LOVE the house and want to live right next door to your best friend will cost you in the negotiation.

  • Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Layout? Light? Style? Land?

  • Be Objective: Think with your heart first and then, for those homes which grabbed your heart, think with your head – does it meet your needs & do the numbers work (including immediate renovations & repairs).  If the first home you see really, truly grabs your heart and the numbers work – go for it.  Otherwise, you may live in a world of regret.  If your search has lingered for months and months, rethink your WHY for the move and what’s important for you.  Maybe your heart isn’t really into the move yet.  And, that is OK.  Take a rest and rethink.

  • Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don’t forget such essentials as:

    • Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.

    • Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.

    • Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.

    • You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).

All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having the RIght Realtor represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended.