The thought of buying a home is one that may fill you with both excitement and nervousness. It may be one of the biggest decisions you may ever make. You will be dealing with such things as financial matters, appointments, attorneys, banks, inspectors, and real estate agents. For many this may only be the beginning.
There are things you may be able to do to help you make the process go a little bit easier and to ward off those easily preventable mistakes first time home buyers inadvertently make.
Get your finances in order. Get pre-approved for your mortgage. You should know how much house you can afford, how much down payment you will need, and the approximate closing costs. Another upside to pre-approval is that sellers will know that you have your funding in place and are ready to purchase.
Seek legal advice. Look for a Real Estate Attorney who can advise you in issues such as the signing or writing of proposed contracts, property descriptions, legal use, zoning, etc.
Take a moment to write down what you need in a home. It is wise to know the basic features your future home needs to have. This will help you in your home searches. It is best to look at homes that will at least meet your basic criteria.
Search an online MLS search service to get an idea of what home prices and inventory is in your area. Places such as Realtor.com offer online home searches. However, if you are going to use the services of a real estate agent then you may want to stay away from agent specific online MLS websites. These are websites that are Realty Company or Real Estate Agent specific. They may require you to work with them or one of their agents and if you do not they will delete your search.
If you choose to work with a Real Estate Agent it should be one that you trust. You may need to go to multiple offices to find the right one. You may want to ask them about their work experience, how they handle an offer, if they have an online website, etc. Ask for their current references. The point is to get them talking and to see how knowledgeable they are. If they refuse to answer your questions or answer in short irritated sentences then you may want to move on. Personalities and experience vary. Not all agents are the same.
Once you have chosen a Real Estate Agent inquire of any commission or fees they expect you to pay for their services, if any. Ask of your potential agent who they are representing in the transaction. There are laws in many states that require the agent to disclose who they are representing, etc. Ask about these laws.
When viewing the property take a notebook along. Make note of any condition problems, ask questions, and take notes. Items such as foundation, roof, heating systems, plumbing, electrical, water damage, insect damage, etc. should be given extra attention when looking at a prospective home.
Once you have decided to purchase a home it is wise to have a licensed home inspection professional do your home inspection. Having a non professional check out the house to save money may cost you more down the road.
Lastly, ask lots of questions and prepare for alternate scenarios as much as possible.