First Time Home Buyer Tips

posted 5 months ago in The Lounge
Post # 16
Member
9435 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

I will add…plan for the future. If you ever want kids, buy in a good school district.

When we bought our current house we weren’t married and also weren’t planning on having children for several years. Then we figured we’d have sooo much time before said child even reached kindergarten anyway, so the school district wasn’t /that/ important.

Yeah right. We are now moving with 1 year to spare before she starts school, and of course the market is insane now. 

Getting preapproved for a loan is attractive to sellers if you’re in a hot market. When we offered on our current house they legit called up our lender to make sure we were for real lol. We only beat out another offer by $1k.

Post # 17
Member
1361 posts
Bumble bee

I just got home from closing on our new home.  We did a final walk through right before closing and we did discover something we hadn’t noticed before.  The driveway is really narrow and we can’t see using garage for this reason until we widen it with a a foot of brick pavers or something.  I was so surprised we hadn’t noticed it before!  But it occurred to me that was probably because we never parked in the driveway during the showing or inspection. If we had used the driveway the width would have definitely been apparent.  Super random, but a discovery & something I’ll remember in the future.

Kinda similar – if you’re shopping in the winter/early spring (in the north) make a note to look for trees that might kinda be invisible without leaves, once the trees are filled in they can have a big impact on natural light and/or privacy in the house. If there is snow on the ground you might not know that the deck or patio is in really rough shape & in need of work.  Lift up rugs on hard wood floors to check for damage.  

If you have dogs and the yard is not already secure, walk it off, take measurements and figure out how to fence/gate secure it.  

These are just little things that change the move in ready-ness of a home and the costs you’ll need to budget for/negotiate with.  

Lastly, a great inspector is worth their weight in gold.  

Post # 18
Member
1361 posts
Bumble bee

Westwood :  Yes on the school district. But I think this goes for the child free too, in terms of resale.  We recently sold our house, had 22 closings scheduled in first two days listed, accepted an offer for 35k over asking price 9 hours after listing went live. And it was all about the school district. 

For people that don’t have or plan to have kids a great school district in a high tax city might not be worth it. But if you can find a good school district in a moderate or low tax city it definitely is.  

Post # 19
Member
181 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

PP mentioned not getting too attached to a house when you make an offer – I would follow that up by saying don’t fall in love with a house until you close (or at least are cleared to close). There are so many steps where the deal could fall through, and you want to make sure that you’re clearheaded and making good decisions for your future with emotion being too much of a factor.

Post # 20
Member
267 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

My husband and I just bought our first home together (he owned the house we previously lived in, but I’m a first time homeowner).  We moved in about a week and a half ago, and it was a stressful time!

One thing I will say, is to have some money saved for things when you move into the house.  We ended up spending about $12k in 6 days for things for the house.  Not everything was a necessity, but what we quickly realized was furniture that worked fine in our old space, no longer fit:  our couch didn’t fit, nor did our old entertainment system.  Not necessities, but we did buy new furniture pretty quickly.

Also, all of the little stuff added up:  movers ($1300)moving our security system ($500), hiring cleaners to clean the new place ($250), professional carpet and tile cleaning ($500), we also had the garage floors done with an epoxy coating before we moved in ($1600). 

I would advise to have some money set aside for little unexpected expenses that will likely come and will quickly eat up money. 

 

Post # 21
Member
2680 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012 - Southern California

PPs have made great points so far! We just bought our first house in December. I want to also add to not forget about “minor” maintenance costs, as well. For example, pest control and a gardener run us about $100+ combined a month. Just a friendly reminder that it seems it’s the little things add up quickly and sneak up the most. 😉

Westwood :  I especially want to reiterate this point: If you ever want kids, buy in a good school district.

We found out we were expecting (surprise!) a couple weeks before closing on this home. The house itself is great and a fantastic first house for a little family, but the school district is awful! At this point, we’re either hoping for a significant increase in value to our house so we can move somewhere else (not likely) or looking into private/charter schools or something. The baby isn’t due for another 5 weeks still, but I’m already stressing about this 5 years in advance haha.

Post # 22
Member
4833 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2017

Great tips.

Have a look at the neighbors backyards through the upper windows/fence to see if they’re slobs. Bad neighbors that are negligent in taking care of their property cause your home to lose value. The way the back looks can be very telling. 

Run the showers and taps to check out water pressure and how long it takes for the water to heat up. Could be an old water heater.

Look under sinks for leaks. But agree with PP that a good house inspector is worth their value in gold! Great comparison.

Post # 24
Member
2527 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

NikkiBee18 :  First step is getting pre-approved, and then sitting down and taking a hard look at your budget and seeing what mortgage you can afford. Again, don’t go based on what you’re approved for. You DO NOT want to end up house poor. 

Post # 25
Member
2572 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2017 - Courthouse

Wow some bees have some great advice so far. 

I would also add one thing I didn’t really think about until we started house hunting. Keep in mind that any renovations, no matter how big or small, will (usually) have to be paid in cash. I think a lot of first time homebuyers see Love It or List It and Property Brothers and get excited with a fixer upper. But you have to have a huge savings account to do that. 

I originally wanted a home that would need some work but then I realized between the money and the time we couldn’t really work around fixing a home up right now. We ended up with a turn key home with our home only needing work in the back yard. I’m so glad we did that because we could actually enjoy our home!

Post # 26
Member
1255 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2018 - The Venue, Barkisland, UK

We moved in to our first house in February. I’m in the UK so I think quite a few things work differently.

Here, you’re definitely a more attractive prospect if you have been pre-approved for your mortgage. Additionally, as a first time buyer you don’t have a ‘chain’ (i.e. you aren’t relying on the funds from a house sale to fund the purchase) which is a plus for many sellers as the risk of a sale falling through is perceived to be lower. On the other hand, first time buyers who don’t know what they’re doing get a bad press!

I had a spreadsheet and we would shortlist houses on to it. We had must haves, nice to haves and won’t touches. There was a section on commute times (we were moving to be nearer work), and a section where I’d check the flood risk, crime rates, public right of ways. Like PPs, I also looked at how close we were to schools, supermarkets, train stations etc. We didn’t view a single house that had an ‘issue’ on the spreadsheet. In the end we only saw 4 properties and ultimately bought based on emotion – but we’d done all the logical ‘does it meet our needs’ stuff previously.

We ended up buying most of our packing materials but borrowed a van to do the move ourselves. It was hard work and took several 3hr round trips. I’d recommend decluttering in advance so you have less to move – and when getting quotes, always overestimate how much stuff you have!

We had what’s called a survey in the UK – a professional comes in and inspects the house prior to purchase for any issues with the building. Ours basically said that the house could do with a cosmetic renovation and we honestly hadn’t seen that during the two viewings but on moving day we realised it was really dirty and there’s lots of maintenance to do. A lot of people I know have found their new house filthy on moving day – something to watch out for!

Post # 27
Member
7904 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

NikkiBee18 :  some calculators are great, others are WAY off and that’s part of the problem. I had to take an online course to qualify for a first time homebuyer program and the course that was created by/for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts had an incorrect calculator. Seriously. A state sponsered first-time homebuyer course failed to account for income taxes and said I could afford $1,500/month more than I knew I could. I actually called the loan officer after I finished the quiz and she said “yea I know it’s dumb. Did you put in the right answer or the one you knew it was looking for?” Ugh. I had put in the answer I knew the program wanted me to give just so I could pass and get on with it, but some people actually trust those things! 

Take a look at your bank and credit card statements for the last few months and see how much you have coming in and how much you have going out so you can set your budget. Services like mint or personal capital can be really helpful for this exercise. Don’t forget to include savings! 

Post # 28
Member
7904 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

sarathemermaid :  this! You have to wait several years to rely on home equity for renovations and I think a lot of new homeowners don’t understand that. We took out a line for a renovation recently (we’ve owned for 6 years and our home value has doubled in that time) and my Brother-In-Law was so frustrated that he couldn’t do that but he’s only owned the place for a couple months and bought with 5% down. He has no equity to tap yet!

Post # 29
Member
290 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2020

I bought my first house 5 years ago and I will close on this same house on Thursday.  I agree with a lot of the advice given here.  I would estimate what you can afford and then maybe even go down a little bit.  Unexpected expenses pop up, including things going wrong after being in the house only a few weeks.  Even the expected expenses are no fun to pay.  It’s nice to have a buffer if you can.   I admit I didn’t do the best in this area. 

Having just sold my house in a pretty hot sellers market, I received multiple offers over asking price.  Nothing crazy but about 5K over.  No offers asked for closing costs and the strongest offer had a nice sized down payment and earnest money to show their seriousness with the offer.  I didn’t really think about it much, but my realtor helped me understand who had more skin in the game when deciding which offer to take.  I would be prepared to make your best offer.  The offer I decided to take had an “escalation” clause in their contract so they wouldn’t lose out over another offer. 

Post # 30
Member
2572 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2017 - Courthouse

LilliV :  Yep exactly! I think it’s really easy to see a home and think “Oh I’m just gonna change x, y, and z” but it ends up being thousands of dollars you probably don’t have when you first buy a home. 

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