Buying your first home is an important milestone; we always recommend our first-time buyers try to enjoy the process and the experience. Typically, buying a home is the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. While some like to think of the process as the best shopping trip ever, the amount of money involved can bring stress.
Whether you can’t wait to buy your first home or are nervous about the process, or somewhere in between, we’re here to help. The Schwenker Homes Team has condensed our comprehensive advice for first-time buyers into the following easy-to-digest checklist. Below is Part 1.
KNOW YOUR BUDGET FOR NIAGARA REAL ESTATE LISTINGS
Many homeowners start browsing property listings before knowing their budget. And who could blame them...window shopping is fun! However, when you’re getting serious about buying your first home, the first thing you should do is nail down your budget, BEFORE you start falling in love with properties.
Unless you’re purchasing the home in cash, it is advisable to get “pre-approved” for a mortgage. The first step is to take stock of your finances. What’s your credit score? What’s your monthly budget look like? How will utility costs affect your budget? What programs are in place to help you? A good place to start is the first-time home buyer tax credit, land transfer tax refund and home buyers' plan.
Once you have answered those questions, you can speak with potential lenders, such as banks, mortgage companies and insurance companies. The pre-approval does not guarantee a mortgage loan, however it does let you: lock in an interest rate, estimate your monthly mortgage payment, and, most importantly, know the maximum amount of your mortgage.
FIND THE RIGHT NIAGARA REALTOR
Now that you’re armed with a defined budget, you can start considering homes within your price range. An experienced local realtor will be your best partner when searching for a home. We've written about this before. They’ll know the market well, understand your needs and wants and have experience negotiating the best price for your offer. The best part of working with a realtor when buying a home? You don’t have to pay them! The seller pays for your agent’s commissions fees when buying a home.
So how do you know who the “right” realtor is? It is important to do your research. Do they have experience in your area? What do their former clients say about them? And most importantly, how comfortable do you feel with them? This last one is particularly important; you will spend a lot of time with your realtor and need to place a lot of trust in them, so it is worthwhile to speak to a few before selecting one to be your partner.
Still want to know more about buying your first home? Stay tuned for Part 2, or contact us for a cup of coffee and more advice!