Owning a home may be your dream, but in order for the purchase to be the happy and satisfying experience it was meant to be, you need to ensure that you are financially and mentally prepared for the responsibilities that come with it.
Some people have a notion that home ownership is like renting, but with the power to have pets and paint the walls whatever color you like. However, while these privileges are available to homeowners in most municipalities, they come with the responsibilities of a mortgage, taxes and home maintenance. Preparing for home ownership requires you to take critical stock of your finances and your expectations.
Owning your own home is about more than just being able to decorate any way you like; it's about being prepared to maintain your home over the years, realizing that part of your income and time will go towards repairs and maintenance. It's about being willing to take the risks of home ownership with a realistic expectation of the rewards.
It can be discouraging to find that your salary won't stretch as far as the home you want to own. However, sacrificing a huge part of your income just to pay the mortgage can very quickly make home ownership a burden rather than a point of pride. It's better to buy a modest home now and look at purchasing your "dream home" in a few years.
This is something that lenders take very seriously. Your overall debt should not be more than 40% of your income, and your housing debt should not be more than 32%. What 32% of your income will buy depends on where you want to live. The huge price discrepencies that exist in housing prices because of location is just a well known fact of life.
Do you like the idea of cleaning your own gutters? Do you shudder at the thought of lawn care? Would you rather just pay a fee every month and have everything done for you? Would obeying rules about when you can have your garbage cans out bother you, or do you want to live in a neighborhood where everything is 'just so'? The answers to these questions can help you narrow down the search for the right type of property for you.
The right agent DOES make a difference. Our real estate team is dedicated to helping you find the right home, at the best price. We pride ourselves in market knowledge in the areas we serve (we don't show what we don't know) and have the expertise to streamline the entire transaction. Because of our firm contract knowledge and our strong resources (home inspectors, lenders, title attorneys, etc.), we know that we offer services that are unique to the home buyer.
When you hire us to help you buy your first home, we will listen to what you want and how much you can afford. (we have even talked buyers "down" when we felt that their price point would be detrimental to them in the long run). Then we'll use our expertise to merge these two priorities and find a residence that you'll want to call home.
Keep your objectives in mind when visiting a home. Sometimes the idea of owning a home can overwhelm your practical sense, so keep your feelings in check. Keep a list handy of the features that you need and want in a home, and judge each home by the list instead of by details that could distract you from your goal (i.e., someone else's great furniture, which isn't staying with the home). When we're viewing properties, we can go over the pros and cons of each home and help you stay on track. Having said that, there is always an emotional piece to the home buying process -- and sometimes the needs and wants list goes out the window when the heart takes over.
Make the offer. We will prepare the paperwork and go through it with you before submitting any offer. Since our "standard" contract is over 50 pages, it is sometimes useful to have looked at some of the language prior to making an offer. Especially if you're a "reader", let us know and we'll make sure you have ample time to review. After making an offer, remember that the seller may reject or counter your offer, so even at this late date, it's probably wise to have a bit of emotional detachment (if possible). You'll also have to write a deposit check of about 5% of the sales price that is submitted with your offer. We often have that deposit "held" until satisfaction of any short term contingencies (home inspection, condo doc review). If you are making an offer on a house that is expecting multiple offers, we have strategies to help your offer rise to the top.
Get all necessary inspections done. If your offer is contingent on a home inspection (and most are -- unless you have "pre-inspected" a property), we can provide names of several licensed inspectors who we highly recommend. The inspector will spend a few hours at the property with you (it is always wise for you to attend) looking at the structure and the systems. An inspection will tell you whether or not there are any major problems, how old the systems are and when you might expect to have to replace them, and general knowledge about the 'care and feeding" of your (soon to be) home. If you discover something that makes you unwilling to proceed with the purchase, you can void your contract based on the inspection.. as long as you respond in a timely manner. You can also ask the seller to make repairs on items that aren't functioning as expected. You are also guaranteed the opportunity for a separate inspection to assure that the property is free from termites or any other wood boring insects.
Do a final walkthrough -- on or just before the date of settlement. We'll be there to do this with you to make sure that everything agreed upon is completed prior to the final signing and that the property remains in "substantially the same condition" as when you wrote the offer.
From the first interview that determines your requirements to the moment that you receive the keys, we will help you with the complicated process of buying a home. And we'll also be there in the years to come to continue to answer any real estate related questions or concerns. Don't hesitate to contact us to find out more about how we can make the home buying process easier!
Contact us for more information about first time home purchasing.