Getting Started: Buying Your First House


Looking for your first home can be a truly exciting time. There are so many prospects and opportunities to be explored that you might feel as if you’re caught up in a whirlwind adventure – that is until it comes time to put in an offer. Then reality comes crashing back and you remember just how scary the responsibility of owning your first house really is. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to fold your hand and give up. It might just mean that it’s time to take things slowly, safely, and make sure you proceed with buying your first house in a calm, cool, and collected manner.

Finding a Realtor
Finding a realtor is easy. Finding a good realtor may not be as simple. There are certainly plenty of them out there, and choosing just one from among the crowd can be difficult and raise a multitude of questions. Is the realtor experienced? Will he or she show you the needed attention during your home search? Are they just out for the commission or will they really keep your best interests at the forefront of the search?

These can be tough questions to answer until after you’ve selected your realtor and started the home search process. Therefore, consider speaking with family, co-workers and friends who have bought homes in order to see what they look for in a realtor and if they have any recommendations. And remember, once you’ve selected a realtor, it doesn’t mean you can’t change realtors later on if he or she isn’t meeting your needs.

Selecting a Home
Depending on how focused you are upon your search and what the current real estate market is in your area, selecting the right home can be one of the most difficult steps in the home buying process. Before you begin your search, consider laying out a list of ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ for a prospective home. Obviously needs such as sufficient bedrooms for your family will out way even the most desired wants such as beautiful pocket doors, so it's important to both have a clear list that is prioritized.  When you’re out looking at homes, this list can help you narrow down requirements that match or don’t match within a home and help you determine how close a particular property is to your ideal home.

You might find it difficult not to jump at the first home you see, but keeping an open mind and viewing a number of homes before making a decision can help you compare prices, home types, and get a feel for what kinds of homes are out there.  Another thing to avoid is being pressured into a home that doesn't meet your needs and desires because your bank does not want to approve you for a mortgage due to poor credit.  Even in today's economy there are solutions for those in search of bad credit mortgages so it might just take a little more time to find the right lendor.

While seeing a mixture of homes can be helpful in your decision process, it can also be confusing trying to remember which homes you’ve seen, liked or disliked. Taking informational home brochures when available and making notes can help you remember certain qualities or issues that stood out to you about a home after the fact.

Making an Offer
Once you’ve decided upon a home, it’s probably time to make that first offer. A realtor can provide comparable properties in and around the neighborhood of the home in which you are interested to help determine a good starting offer. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage ahead of time and having an ample down-payment available can give your offer a little more punch and let sellers know that you are serious about buying a home. Working with a professional wealth management company such as Fisher Investments can help increase savings to afford a larger down payment.

Don’t be surprised however, if the seller doesn’t accept your first offer and comes back with a counteroffer. This is typical in real estate negotiations. The offer/counteroffer process may continue back and forth several times before a price is agreed upon or the parties decide that a deal cannot be reached. However, if a price is set, the next step will likely be the home inspection, another critical aspect in the negotiating and home purchase process.

Home Inspection
The home inspection can be of crucial importance, especially when buying your first home. This inspection may allow you not only to learn much about your prospective home, its quirks, and the way it functions, but it could also help you pinpoint any issues or areas that might be problematic within the home or its surroundings.

You may be able to ask for problems discovered during this time to be repaired by the seller or for the seller to issue credits to allow you to fix such issues yourself. The inspection can be an important bargaining chip when it comes to final negotiations and it can protect you from buying a home that might not be all it appears. While the typical home inspection may run several hundred dollars and up depending upon the size of the home and scope of the inspection, it could save you thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars or more in repairs down the road.