With current loan rates and the extended $8,000 tax credit extension, now is the time to find the perfect home you've been dreaming of. However, finding the perfect home may not be as easy as it sounds. For first time homebuyers finding the perfect home is an exciting experience, you're going to be investing a lot of money into this house and potentially living there for quite a while so the last thing you want to do is end up in a home you don't love or even worse, a neighborhood you hate. Here are a few tips for first time homebuyers on how to find the perfect home.
Location, Location, Location
As a first time homebuyer you first need to decide where it is you want to live. Location is key when trying to find the perfect home. Will you be moving out of state? Into a different city? Into a new community? No matter what you'll want to do your research before trying to find the perfect home. Moving away is hard enough, you don't want to end up stuck somewhere you wont be happy! If you are moving to a new state or city, narrow down your choices through extensive research and then go and check out your top choices. A great site to research cities is citydata.com. It has an abundance of information from real estate re-sell values to crime rates. It also has forums where real people give their opinions and answer questions on all aspects of almost every city. Also write down the pro's and con's of each city you are considering to buy in, this can greatly help in your decision making and get you on your way to finding the perfect home.
Finding the Perfect Neighborhood
Once you have narrowed it down to the city, you may still want to wait before jumping into a purchase, especially if you are moving to a new area. Finding the perfect home in a new area can be a bit tricky. Many cities and towns have a lot of communities to chose from, some you may not even know about. Some of the greatest neighborhoods you'll find just by driving around. There is no way to find what neighborhoods you'll like most until you explore the area. Finding the perfect home takes time. As a first time homebuyer you should rent for a few months until you have the areas within the city narrowed down to communities that you would actually like to buy in. You would hate to make a purchase and then realize your dream neighborhood was only a few miles up the road! Get really familiar with your area before making one of the biggest decisions of your life.
Once you have narrowed it down to the neighborhood, take the time to drive through it. Visit the neighborhood at different times day to get a feel for things like traffic, who your neighbors will be, etc.. Always check out the community for yourself, don't rely on word of mouth, everyone has a different idea of the perfect home and neighborhood and definitely don't rely on the internet for assurance. Just because you love the look online does not guarantee that you will love it in real life. Sure, you could find the perfect home online: 5 bedrooms, new paint and carpet, close to schools, and only listed for $135,000! Well there is one thing you cant see online - the neighborhood! Depending on what's important to you in finding the perfect home and neighborhood, go and look it over. It will definitely give you a better sense of what it might be like to live there. Is it clean, well kept? Is it a family oriented or more for college kids? Is it quiet? etcâ€¦ You want it to be safe above all else, especially if you have children!
Another sub-category of finding the perfect location is convenience. Convenience is often overlooked when trying to find the perfect home. Convenience is where you are vs. where you need to go. Do you want to be near work, near the school your children will attend, near friends or family? Is it important to be near downtown, shopping, etc.. Do you prefer to be near a hospital, a grocery store, parks? You need to think about the places you visit often, which do you mind driving to and which would you prefer to be closer to. These are simple things we may forget to think about when trying to find the perfect home because we get so involved with the house itself. You don't want to end up 20 minutes from the grocery store if you have 4 kids, huge inconvenience and far from perfect!
Key Elements and Design/Structure
What are you really looking for when trying to find the perfect home? What qualities are important to you? You may find that the more you shop around the more you can define what your idea of the perfect home is. By looking at real estate currently on the market you will get a better understanding of what you like and what you don't, this will greatly assist you in narrowing down your options when trying to find the perfect home. Maybe you will find that you want the master bedroom upstairs, maybe you don't want stairs, maybe you want an open floor plan, maybe you want brick exterior, maybe you want a big backyard! There are so many factors to consider for a first time homebuyer! Here is the best way to go about it, unless your custom building your house from the ground up your not going to get everything you want. You should instead make a list of what is the most important to you in the perfect home, starting from greatest of importance. The top of the list should be things you wont budge on. Keep in mind when creating your list the difference between permanent and fixable attributes. Permanent attributes are the things you can not change, if the master is upstairs it's staying there whereas fixable things are floors, paint, countertops, etcâ€¦ things you could change if you wanted to. You need to decide what is most important to you as a first time homebuyer and you may just have to let a few things slide. You don't want the color of tile in the front bathroom to stand between you and your perfect dream house.
New vs. Used
Another great factor to consider when trying to find the perfect home, especially for first time homebuyers, is whether you would like to buy new or used. Both have advantages and disadvantages. With new real estate you have a more control over the design, you can pick out what you have always wanted whereas in pre-owned you get what you get and you either like it, work with it, or spend the money to change it! New, growing communities offer a lot of great incentives but that doesn't always mean you are getting the better deal. Compare the price per square foot for both, also taking into consideration other factors such as location, amenities, association fees, etc when trying to find the perfect home. One great thing about older houses on the market is the communities are already established, you don't have to worry about how the neighborhood will turn out, you can also find great deals on foreclosures which can end up saving you a lot of money.
If you have children one of the most important things you will want to do as a parent when trying to find the perfect home is check the neighborhood you plan to buy in for registered sex offenders. This can easily be done by checking out either familywatchdog.com or The National Sex Offender Registry. Both are great sources and easy to use. Simply enter your location, or the location you plan to buy in and it will bring up detailed information on offenders in the area. You can click on offenders by map placement it will in most cases give a picture and information of the offense. No matter what just be aware or who is in your neighborhood or the neighborhood you plan to buy in.
Home Loans, Budget, And Mortgage Pre-Approval
When finding the perfect home, never let the price you plan to pay exceed your budget, if you don't think you can afford it then move on, there will be another opportunity that is meant for you and your checkbook. You don't want to end up eventually losing your house to foreclosure because you cant make the mortgage payments. You also don't want to be living day and night at work to cover the costs either. Know what your price range is and make sure that you will be comfortable with the mortgage payments. Use an online home payment calculator to figure out what the monthly payments on your mortgage may be. Home payment calculators are great for an estimated home mortgage evaluation. However, be careful not to become fixated on this price as there are many other costs that will be associated with your purchase. Most home payment calculators don't include things such as home insurance, property taxes, and association fees if any. You also have to plug in a home loan APR, you can play around with this to see estimated monthly payments. However, you cannot be 100% sure of the home loan APR until you have a bank or loan officer run your credit and do a mortgage loan pre-approval. Speaking of pre-approval it is always a great idea to get a pre-approval letter from a bank or financial institution before shopping around. This way you will have a better idea of what your spending limit is when trying to find the perfect home. Again, don't buy towards the higher end of your mortgage loan pre approval amount unless you truly know that you can afford it. You want to be able to enjoy and keep your new house!
Ultimately, buying a home is one of the most rewarding and exciting times of your life. To be able to enjoy something you have worked so hard for is a feeling unlike any other. Hopefully, you can apply the tips presented in this guide to help you in checking off the most important factors in your home buying experience, choosing the right neighborhood, and finding the perfect home of your dreams.