Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll likely make during your lifetime. Indeed, searching for your first ever property and securing the necessary financing can be overwhelming.

However, if you prepare ahead, you’ll be well-organized and ready to head off any unforeseen challenges. Not to mention, pre-planning will help ensure a happy home-hunting process and put you one step closer to settling in.

Here are four top tips for first-time homebuyers right now:

1. Know What You Can Afford

First things first: Don’t begin your home search without first knowing what you can afford. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a house only to find out later it’s out of your price point. At this early stage of your home-buying journey, consider how you could benefit from the help of a top real estate agent who can guide you from your first house viewing to the day you sign your mortgage. You’ll have questions along the way and need a top Realtor to handle any concerns you may have. 

Additionally, consider doing some prep work using an online mortgage calculator to help you evaluate your buying power. To get an idea of what you can afford, plug in a home price, the down payment you expect to make, and an estimated mortgage rate to determine what your annual income needs to be to get approved by a lender. 

2. Get Pre-Approved Before Your Search Begins

After completing the preliminary steps in determining how much house you can afford, you’ll want to get pre-approved by a lender. The best real estate agents near you can assist in finding a lender in your hometown. Are you considering moving to Georgetown, Texas, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country? Then you’ll want a Realtor to help you navigate the area and find the best homes within your price range.

Furthermore, if you’re looking to buy a home within the next three months, you’ll be happy to know your pre-approval letter is typically good for 60 to 90 days with mortgage lenders. Getting pre-approved provides the following benefits:

  • You’re one step closer to homeownership.
  • Knowing what you qualify for will give you peace of mind during your search.
  • It eliminates unforeseen challenges and reduces your timeline for closing.
  • It demonstrates your buying power to the seller.

3. Decide Where You Want to Live

If you aren’t sure where the best neighborhoods and schools are located in your city, you’ll want the help of a real estate agent who can pull out the maps and lead you and your family home. Are you starting a new job? Then consider the commute from your new home and decide how much time you’ll need to spend on the road.

Additionally, take a weekend trip to the neighborhood before moving day and spend time getting familiar with the amenities your city offers. Are grocery stores nearby? How far is your child’s school from your home? If you’re moving out of state, working with a team of Realtors will help you get essential questions answered long before moving day.

4. Consider the Amenities

When thinking about buying your first home, you’ll likely be daydreaming about all the amenities you want in the house. Then again, you may realize finding the perfect home comes with a little compromise. Knowing this, make a list of the things you can’t do without in a home, and then make a separate list of nice-to-have items that aren’t dealbreakers. For example, you may want a house with ceiling fans in every room, but the home you want only has a fan in the master bedroom. Can you compromise and install fans later on your own dime? You decide.

Your New Home Sweet Home

When finding a new home, put a plan in place before starting your search, and you’ll feel good knowing you crossed all the right t’s and dotted your i’s before closing day. Of course, you don’t have to go it alone. Consider hiring a real estate agent who can help you transition to homeownership. No doubt you’ll be happy when you unlock the door to your home sweet home!

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