First-Time Home Buyers
If you are a first-time home buyer, use the guide below for helpful hints and tips and learn how to avoid common mistakes when buying your first home in Charlotte, NC.
- 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:
- One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
- A list or file of the properties that your agent has shown to you.
- Paper and pen for taking notes as you search.
- A camera to snap pictures of homes you have toured to help you remember your favories and features you really liked.
- Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
- Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
- 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 a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please contact us directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.
First Time Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid
Not creating a home-buying plan
First time home buyers typically focus on two things, finding the house they want and whether they have the down payment. But coming up with the down payment and being able to actually buy the house you want are much easier if you've planned ahead.
Unless it's an emergency, plan your move at least a year ahead.
Create a plan to save the down payment and enough to cover hidden costs within your designated time frame. It could be one year, two years, or five years. Ideally, you should take time to save for the down payment, the hidden costs, and have some savings left to be financially secure after buying the home.
Learn about the various steps you need to complete before even looking at a home. One of the most frequent mistakes first time home buyers make is to look for the home before applying for their mortgage or completing other tasks that should be done first. If you've already found the home but everything else isn't ready, someone else may move in before you can do these things.
Not shopping around
With that year you've given yourself, you have time to explore all your options. Don't feel you have to stick to the first mortgage lender. It's best to speak to at least three and then compare their offerings.
Making less than practical home choices
Yes, it's exciting to see a large home, one with spa features, or one in a style you've always dreamed of, but if you can't afford it, you'll only be more heartbroken when it causes you financial distress and/or you have to sell it to make ends meet.
Always keep your budget in mind, the monthly payments, hidden costs, maintenance costs, and cost of living in the area to determine if you can really afford the home.
Do try to find as much of a happy medium between your dream home and what you can afford as you can. You might get a smaller home you can afford and add on a room or open up the space with remodeling. Or a home might easily be upgraded to have some of the spa features you'd like. Some may even come with a few spa features even if there isn't a giant fully decked out bathroom.
Not giving enough consideration to the location
First time home buyers think about the house they're going to buy and all the exciting options and daunting considerations that go with that. But the neighborhood can make living in an otherwise dream home a nightmare and it will lower your home's value.
The town or city and the location within the town make a big difference also. What if you can't buy groceries that fit your diet buy in a small town or hot spots you want to visit in the city are on the other side of the city and you have to brave nerve-wracking traffic to get to it?