- 3 years ago
- Wedding: July 2014
What would be your biggest piece of advice when buying a house for the first time?
What would be your biggest piece of advice when buying a house for the first time?
@regit45: I would say have a pretty decent size savings account first. FI and I didnt realize how many little things we were going to need, even though we had a lot of stuff from my apartment. Those little things add up, esp when you now have a yard to take care of. We had to buy a push mower, shovels, trimmers, etc. We knew we would need that stuff but didnt really think about how it would all add up. lol
Dont blow all your savings on the downpayment/closing costs. We spent several thousands within the first month just on paint, lighting, lawn equipment, etc. Have extra money set aside as well as your emergency money. You WILL discover something that needs to be replaced as soon as your move in. For us, it was a big hole in the wall that had been covered up with a picture during all our walk throughs and inspections.
Which brings me to my next tip which is paint is easy to replace! Look past ugly furniture, and weird paint colors and look at the potential of the house. It might not have granite counters and stainless steel (yet-those can be added down the line), but is it in a great neighborhood on a quiet street?
Keep an open mind and find a good home inspector.
My biggest piece of advice is to be open minded. You need to see past what the current owners did to see if you can make it your own. With that, don’t have ridiculous expectations. As first timers you may not be able to afford everything and you will likely move again.
@regit45: Have your finances in order before falling in love with a home!
We saved our desired downpayment before we even started looking, and thankfully we did because shortly after signing the papers we were engaged and any savings after that ended up going towards the wedding.
I knew a couple that fell in love with a home as soon as they started looking and then struggled to meet the minimum downpayment requirements and now have quite a substantial mortgage payment…
Also, know what your monthly expenses are now so that when you add in home expenses (bills, property taxes, groceries etc) you can use that to determine how much of a mortgage payment you will be comfortable with.
Before you make an offer on the house you like, wait until dark, drive to the house, and see what the neighborhood is like after home-viewing hours. Mostly, you want to make sure that the area feels safe at night. You can change a lot of things about a house, but if the neighborhood isn’t good, that’s harder to control.
Don’t settle for a mediocre real estate agent. Our agent was amazing and found us our perfect home. gave us great advice, and helped us get our loan.
Thorough inspection and test all of the plumbing. Our inspector did this – flushed all the toilets, ran the dishwasher, etc.
One of my coworkers just bought her first home a month ago and it has been a disaster. Apparently her inspector didn’t test anything, not the plumbing anyway, because the first time she flushed the toilet the entire basement flooded with fecal matter. Apparently the previous owner considered himself a handyman and ‘fixed’ everything himself. So far it has cost my friend $5000 and the problem still isn’t completely taken care of, plus now she also has water damage. She is suing the previous owner, but who knows when/if she’ll see the money.
Also, like PPs stated, look past the ugly furniture/decor. We bought our home from a retired couple and their tastes definitely didn’t coincide with ours. The entire time I was walking through the house I was envisioning how I would change things though. Now everything is updated and fresh and its a complete 180 from when we first saw it.
Remember that it’s first and foremost a giant financial transaction, so don’t let your emotions cloud the nitty gritty rational decision making.
Also, when you’re in the negotiation phase (both during the offer stage and the post-inspection stage), don’t get so caught up in “winning” that you lose the house you really love. A couple thousand dollar difference in price is literally just like $25 on your monthly mortgage.
Keep looking until you find the right place. Don’t get sick of the process and be like “Oh whatever, this is good enough.” I know that sounds ridiculous now, but it’s seriously tempting when you’re in the middle of the never-ending hunt.
Make a list of must-haves, would-likes, don’-cares, and no-ways, and compare with your SO’s list, and make a final one together. Be reasonable though – unless you have an unlimited budget, you can never get the perfect house.
Oh and look at the price range that you think is right without being house-poor, not what the bank says is your range. We wanted a house under $150,000 (and got one for $130,000) but the bank approved us for up to $350,000! Insane.
OK that was more than one piece of advice but oh well. Good luck!!
Get a great agent willing to work for you! Also everything is going to cost more than you think. Be prepared with money set aside.
I’m posting to follow. We just bought our first house and it closes on July 15!!! Yipee!!!!
I agree with PPs. Make sure that after the downpayment + clsoing costs you still have an extra $5-10K to spend on random maintenance, furniture, tools, lawn equipment, etc. once you move in. There will be stuff you need to fix and there will be stuff you’ll need to buy ASAP.
And speaking of budget, it’s usually best to find something that you can afford on one person’s salary. That way if someone loses their job or becomes disabled and can no longer work, you can still afford the mortgage. I know that this doesn’t always work out, but it’s something to stongly consider. Just because the bank will loan you a larger amount, doesn’t mean you should take the full amount.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask tons of questions about the house, your mortgage, closing costs, etc. Don’t feel bad asking your realtor to look at tons of houses. Remember, these people are all working for you!
There will always be something that needs to be fixed, upgraded, or painted in your home. Something always seems to break when you least expect it. Our washer went out in the middle of doing a load.
1 – Make sure you research your inspector don’t just let your real estate agent recommend one
2 – Yards are freaking tons of work. Make sure you’ve budgeted for the equipment you need and have thought through the amount of maintenance the yard will need. That ginormous tree in our backyard I love? Yeah TONS AND TONS of pollen, can’t wait until I have to rake leaves in the fall.
Do you have a particular neighborhood or town in mind? Dont rely on the real estate agent to tell you how good the schools, city gov’t, etc are. Find out by polling neighbors in the area. KNOW what your yearly taxes will be for the property you want. And homeowners insurance. The night time visit to the desired neighborhood suggested by a PP is essential.
Buy less house than you can afford. Plan on staying long enough to make it worth the investment. The “able to afford it on one paycheck” is a good idea. Have a very experienced and nit-picky inspector check things out for you. If the results of the inspection reveal small nit-picky issues, don’t let it scare you away. If it reveals big plumbing or foundation issues, then worry.
Dont just rely on a realtor to show you homes; drive around and look. I started in the center of the town that I wanted to live in and went in ever-widening circles until I found the one that I wanted….on a small street that I’d bypassed a zillion times because “nobody ever sells on that street”
Take anything the realtor tells you with a grain of salt. I’m not saying realtors are liars, but they ARE doing a job in order to earn a living and they COULD be a little flexible with reality….the realtor that sold my old house told me that the buyers loved gardening…..when I last did a drive-by ALL of the old gardens had been torn out and replaced with grass. Nary a flower in sight. Their house, their choice…..(ok little rant there).
I just closed on my new home in May and learned a lot online ~ take your time and best of luck in your search!