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5 Tips for First Time Home Buyers

If you’re a first-time home buyer, finding the right home can be complicated and time-consuming. Consider the following tips as you begin your search for new homes:

1. Know Your Budget 

The first step in buying a home is to figure out your budget. Calculate your current expenses and income. This process helps you know how much money you have in your budget to pay for a home.

Add in an estimated mortgage payment. You’ll also need to include homeowner’s costs, such as maintenance on the property and home insurance. Some home builders feature mortgage calculators on their websites to help you estimate payments for your budget.

2. Create a Must-have List

You may have a dream home in mind with a list of features you would like to have. As you start shopping for a home, narrow that list down to the features you can’t live without. You might decide that a house must come with a garage, or you need the laundry on the main level of the house.

Think about practical features when creating your must-have list. Consider the number of bedrooms you need or the space for a home office if you work remotely. Some home builders allow you to search their home listings with filters for the number of bedrooms or bathrooms and other amenities.

3. Decide on Location

If you don’t already have an idea of the area where you’d like to buy a home, consider locations near where you work or close to family and friends. Think about how long of a commute you are willing to make for the next several years.

Before you decide on a location, do some research into the area. Find out about amenities in the community. Pay attention to how close the community is to stores and restaurants. If you have kids, find out about the reputation of the schools in the area. Consider the crime rate of the neighborhood. Look at areas that are growing, such as new communities. You may have the opportunity to maximize your investment with the right location as property values increase over time.

4. Visit Model Homes

One of the best ways to know what you want in a house is to visit some new homes in your desired area. You can find model homes already set up with appliances, furnishings, and other decor, which allow you to get an idea of the builder’s style. Take a tour to see the layout and learn what other options are available, such as different finishes, colors, and materials. You might ask if you can replace hardwood for tile or carpet or switch out dark cabinets for a lighter shade.

You’ll get a tour of the home and the neighborhood, where you can see what different models look like with various floor plans. Ask questions of the home builder representative to find out about options for finishes, availability dates, and other considerations. They can explain which features are upgradeable and at what cost.

5. Get Pre-approved With a Lender

Before you start looking too seriously at homes for sale, get pre-approved with a lender. Some sellers may not consider an offer unless you’ve been pre-approved. You can fill out the application and provide the lender with supporting documents, such as bank statements and paystubs.

The lender will review your paperwork and let you know how much you qualify for. They will provide you with a pre-approval letter that lists the amount so you know the price range for houses to look at. By being pre-approved, you can often set an earlier closing date in your offer.

Some home builders offer affiliate financial services to help buyers get a mortgage. Because the builder and lender have worked together with other buyers, it can streamline the process.

Start Looking at New Homes

Once you’ve decided how much you can afford and what you need in a home, you’re ready to take the next step. Get pre-approved for a mortgage and start looking for the place you’ll call home. Take the time to look at multiple places and get a feel for what you want. By considering these tips, you may have a better chance of finding a home you love.

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