There are many things to consider when buying a first house. What about the inspection? What is an ARM and is it a good idea? What all does a mortgage broker do? These things usually work out and before long you are living the dream of being a homeowner for the first time. But then, as years go by you realize that there were things you wished you had known to ask or inquire about before you bought your first house. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when buying that first home.
Research Your Agent Well
Most agents gain clients by referrals. They do a good job for one person and then that person tells his friends about the agent. However, what may be good for one person might not work for someone else. Is the agent laid back or more "take charge?" Is the agent more adversarial or more willing to work with the other side? Will the agent give you his or her recommendation or leave you to make what you think is the best move? Just remember that even if your best friends love their agent, that does not mean that you will. Talk to a sampling of people and connect with the best fit as you look to buy your first house.
Do Not Underestimate the Cost of Updating Your New House
If you are like most first time home buyers, you are purchasing your house on a limited budget. That means that you will not find the 100% perfect home for you. There are going to be things about the house that you do not like and will want to update or fix. Be it painting the walls, changing out the floors, installing more cabinets, etc., you will be spending money updating your first house. If you are not careful you will quickly run out of money. It is important to manage your available cash effectively, especially if you are required to pay cash for things up front like closing costs. You do not want to start your new life as a homeowner with rising credit card debt.
Do Not Overlook the Schools, Even if You Do Not Have Kids
When buying a first house, many people and couples do not yet have kids. They may give a cursory look at the school system, but the prospect of having a child entering kindergarten seems light years away. But then, before you know it a baby shows up and that baby keeps growing and you are still in that first house, and suddenly you realize that you do not like the school system your child is getting closer to attending. Maybe the timing will work out that you move as your child gets ready to go to school. But if not, there will be additional stress as light years become next year. Do not overlook the school system as your childless family looks to buy its first house.
Make Sure the Living Space Will be Suitable for Growing Families
Along the same lines as not overlooking the school system, you do not want to overlook the space required for a growing family. The first house you buy might comfortably accommodate you, but if you want to grow your family, will it accommodate the future family? It can be very easy to just assume that you will buy a new house when your family gets too large, but that does not always work. While it is not advisable to buy a house so large that you cannot afford it, you will want to consider the size of a house needed down the road.
Make Sure the Air Conditioner is Large Enough for the House
This is the biggest lesson I learned after buying a first house was that many starter home do not have air conditioners big enough to cool the house. If you buy a starter home you will find that there are a lot of characteristics of the home that are substandard. Whether it is not enough insulation in the walls or showers that are falling apart, you will find that things are not top notch. For me, this included the air conditioner. My 1450 square foot home was equipped with an air conditioning unit fit for 1200 square feet. This led to extremely hot summers and high energy bills. The alternative was to buy a new air conditioning unit, but that was another large expense that I had not counted on. I wish I had asked the inspector about the air conditioner so I would have known what to expect.
Buying a first house is an achievement to be proud of. Even as you grow out of it you will always look back fondly at the first house, even with its limitations. However, it can be frustrating to have problems crop up that you wish you had known about ahead of time. Make sure to ask every question that comes to mind, and most importantly enjoy the moment.