Thank you to Suzie Wilson of Happier Home for writing our blog post today!
Making a Smooth Move: Start-to-Finish Tips for First-Time Homebuyers
Like any major life decision, buying your first home is fun, exciting, and terrifying. It’s best to go in with a plan, as there are details about the process that you simply don’t know if you’ve never done it before. From financing, to choosing the right home for you, moving in, and everything in between, here’s how to make it a smooth move.
Step one: Self-audit and budgeting
Going into your first home purchase without knowing everything there is to know about your own financial situation is like trying to qualify for the Daytona 500 before you get your driver’s license —it’s a bad idea and certainly won’t end well. Take a look at your finances and see what you can afford. Be sure to consider the various hidden costs of home ownership. You’ll need to budget for more than just the mortgage payment. Think utilities, insurance, property taxes, repairs, and maintenance. Start here to begin crafting a simple budget for your first home purchase.
Research your financing options
What type of mortgage is best for you? Is it the standard 30-year fixed? What about if you can afford to make larger monthly payments? At that point, a 20-year or 15-year fixed loan will give you lower interest rates. The type of financing rates you are offered will depend, in large part, on your credit score. So you must check this out, know what it is, and dispute any sort of irregularities before you begin the process. Because opening any new line of credit (credit card, auto loan, etc.) can temporarily lower your score, NerdWallet suggests freezing all new credit until after you’ve settled your mortgage offer.
Know what you want before you look
Since you’re making one of the biggest purchases of your life, it stands to reason that you want to be pretty sure that you will enjoy it. Before you begin to look for a home, you must know the outline of what you desire—style, space, design, location, etc. The important thing here is to not only think about your present but your future. Are you getting married soon? Are you thinking about having kids? What is your job situation? All of these things can affect whether a house suits you for the long haul or simply for the time being.
Avoid the perfection trap
“When you are looking at a house, you have to have a wish list, but you have to understand that no house is going to be perfect,” notes HGTV. Drill this into your brain. If you fall into the perfect or bust trap, your house-hunting experience is going to be miserable. Make sure any house you put an offer on checks most of your big boxes, but know that repairs and modifications can always be made—you just have to budget for them.
You’ll want to begin to look around for quality contractors to make repairs and renovations to your home as soon as you sign on the dotted line. Online services like the one from HomeAdvisor gives you good options. Do get recommendations from friends and neighbors and hold phone interviews. Treat it like any other job interview (in which you’re the boss!). And make sure you get multiple quotes. Check here for more tips on hiring a good contractor.
Downsize and declutter as you begin to move
Once moving day arrives, it’s almost too late to do what’s necessary to get your new life in your new home started off on the right foot. As soon as you know you’re moving and begin to pack, you should do what you can to organize, declutter, and, in some situations, downsize. This will allow you to start fresh in your new home, without the physical (and sometimes emotional) baggage you’ve accumulated throughout your life.
Buying and moving into a house for the first time is going to be stressful. It’s going to try your patience. But if you get your finances in order, create a budget, outline what you want in your new home, and remember that homes can be modified to better suit your needs, you’ll be able to tame the negatives and enjoy the process.
Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash