That time has finally come. You are ready to buy a home and move out from home or your apartment for the first time. Now what? How much money do you need right away and how much money do you need to make every month to pay for a mortgage? What neighborhoods can you afford, and what are some ways to make sure you are making a smart decision on this very large life purchase? All your answers can be found, where? On the internet of course! Well that’s not quite true, but there is a lot of information to be found on the internet for every facet of your home buying search. The California Association of Realtors writes that, “First-Time Home Buyers Lead the Charge in Finding their Eventual Home Online,” (CAR.ORG Link ) A good analogy for this search could be compared to going to a hardware store to fix, say, a broken pipe. You may find the right parts, but if you don’t have the right tools you will never fix that pipe. When buying a home, you may find the picture of a home online that you love, but actually owning that home requires more than just liking a picture. The use of online tools can make looking at homes much more time and energy efficient, but when you are ready to buy here are a couple of “tools” to remember:
Tools to Find your home-
- While pictures may be worth 1000 words, an in person viewing is worth even more. The point is, you must see the features of a home in person to really know if you like them. Visit open houses or contact a Realtor to visit in person to fully realize if you are ready to make an offer.
- Home Search Websites are outstanding; Realtor.com, Zillow, Redfin etc. are all great ways to search for homes and find important data. You get to be the expert and their websites are very user friendly and easy to use. However, what you must also know is this: Realtors use these websites to market to you. Therefore, when you click on that home you love and a Realtor’s name comes up that doesn’t mean that they have anything to do with that home. The Realtor paid to be placed there when you click. So use the websites, but make informed decisions about who can help you best look for a home.
- A Realtor is your most up-to-date and specific resource when it comes to finding your home, but there are ways to avoid under searching and over searching. A Realtor can enter you into their auto-search for homes you specify. If your search is too broad you will have a huge amount of emails every day, or if it’s too specific you will have very few. A constant conversation with your Realtor about what you want in your home will help clarify this for you and him/her.
- Pay careful attention to the details of a home. The square footage of the home may be different than what is mentioned online which could mean an unpermitted addition etc.
Tools to Fund your home-
- How much money you can afford for a home is best evaluated by a Mortgage Professional. They can best break down exactly what you can afford in total home value and a Realtor can suggest one for you. However, be sure that you don’t assume that what you qualify for is what you can afford. The difference is your budget. You should base what you can buy based on your monthly budget NOT what you qualify for.
- A large down payment is a great way to start your mortgage payments low. Gift money from family members etc. is a great way to get your monthly payments low enough to afford.
- The listed price may be over or under Actual Market Value. The only way to really know the actual value of a home is to take a careful, detailed look at the sold homes similar to that home (comps). A Realtor can help you break this down and help you make an informed pricing decision.
If you would like to read further please see the below website for a more detailed look at tips to buy your first home. Also, as always, if I can help you more specifically in your home selling or home buying search please contact me to talk further.