Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

When it comes to buying your first home, the process can be a bit intimidating. Aside from getting your credit inline and pinpointing an area to focus on as you search for homes, there are other ways you should prepare for your first home buying experience.

Tips for Buying Your First Home

Here are a few tips to help you get started down the path of home buying success:

  • Understand How Much Home You Can Afford: There is more that goes into owning a home than simply a monthly mortgage payment. You’ll want to make sure you can easily cover everything from taxes and insurance to repairs. Try using a mortgage calculator to determine exactly how much home you can afford while still leaving enough money for savings and the rest of your household budget.
  • Connect with a Real Estate Agent: While it might be tempting to try it on your own, enlisting the services of a real estate agent is invaluable, whether it’s your first or fifteenth home purchase. Your real estate agent will be able to provide you insider information about neighborhoods and market trends. In addition to guiding you through the home buying process, they will also serve as your advocate and handle the negotiations and legal requirements along the way.
  • Do Your Homework: Before putting in an offer on your first home, check out the neighborhood thoroughly. Your DeSoto County realtor will be able to provide you with comps of other houses in the area that have sold, along with community stats like crime rates and household demographics. You might want to do a bit of research yourself too. Drive by the house at night and on the weekends to see what the neighborhood is really like. If you’re not familiar with the area, spend a weekend in a local hotel so you can experience the area first-hand.
  • Cover Your Basis: When putting in your offer, consult with your real estate agent. She will guide you through the process and point out potential issues and red flags that might need to be addressed. Together, you can work to develop an offer on your first home that is worthwhile for the seller, but will also protect you as the buyer, with contingencies that will allow you the ability to back out of the deal should something unexpected be discovered along the way.

My Commitment to Your First Home Purchase

As your Realtor, I am committed to being available to you and providing you with exceptional service throughout your real estate transaction with an unmatched level of sincerity and integrity. It’s my goal to earn your trust and build a relationship with you so that together we can achieve your goals and get you to the next chapter in your life.

I would love the opportunity to talk with you and answer any questions you may have about the purchasing process.  You can contact me here or just give me a call at 901-496-4565.

Ready to search for your new home?

Red Flags When Buying a Home

Before you put in an offer on a new home, there are a handful of red flags you’ll want to look for with your realtor. Bad neighborhoods aren’t always easy to spot, so do a bit of digging first. If you see any of these red flags, you should stop and ask some questions.

Home Buying Red Flags

Too Many Houses on the Market: Now, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with a few listed houses on the same street. However, if you see more than just a couple throughout the neighborhood, it might be wise to find out why so many homeowners are wanting to leave the neighborhood all at once.

An overwhelming number of houses that are up for sale in the same neighborhood at the same time could be a sign that the local market is on the downturn.

Empty Storefronts and Commercial Buildings: While you might not be interested in living in an area with a hopping night-life, you still want to be in an area that has a thriving and sustainable economy.

If you find the area has a high number of empty stores and commercial buildings, that is a sign that the area isn’t doing well financially. If the local homeowners can’t afford to go out and support the local businesses, then odds are they aren’t able to handle the upkeep of their houses either.

Low School Enrollment Numbers: Even if you don’t have a school age child, this is a statistic you’ll want to look at because it’s an indicator about the type of neighborhood you’re moving into.

School districts with a healthy enrollment, like those in DeSoto County, will have a steady enrollment rate and not a declining one. Declining numbers mean families aren’t buying in the area, which could make it hard for you to sell your home later or bring down the market value of the home you looking to purchase in the area.

No Parking….Anywhere: If you’re looking at a home with a one-car garage or garage-port, you’ll need to ensure there is still a place for your spouse or friends and family to park when they come over.

If the street has a high traffic volume, parking on the street could be a chore. Not to mention, it potentially puts the parked car in harm’s way. Make sure there are plenty of safe areas close to your house for parking.

Get Home Buying Help

If you’re ready to begin the search for a new home, contact me today. I’ll guide you through the entire process and will make sure you’re home choice doesn’t raise any red flags.

Hidden Cost Surprises for First-time Homebuyers

first time homebuyerYou’ve found the perfect home in a great neighborhood that fits your budget!  Congratulations…you’re on your way towards becoming a first-time homebuyer!

Many first-time homebuyers are surprised to find out about the additional, and often unexpected costs, that go with purchasing a home.

But don’t despair or panic just yet because this is where your DeSoto County Realtor comes in!  Together we will discuss the entire process and create a plan so you will be ready and won’t be caught off guard.

First-time Homebuyer Costs

When it comes to purchasing a home, most first-time homebuyers are prepared for the down payment, home owner’s insurance, and various closing costs (like the appraisal and lender fees).  However, there are a handful of other costs they aren’t prepared for.

While it will be hard to prepare for every possibility, you can for most.  So, as you’re putting your home purchase budget together, allocate funds for these potential unexpected costs:

  • Appliances – The current homeowners may take some or all of the appliances with them or the appliances might be on their last leg and will need to be replaced immediately.  Make sure you allow wiggle room in your budget for appliance replacement —- specifically we’re talking about the refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and washer and dryer.
  • Inspector Finds – You’ll have an inspector tour your potential home well before you sign the papers, so pay close attention to what he finds and the suggestions he makes.  If he finds larger issues, like bad electrical wiring or a weak foundation, think hard about how you will handle these issues down the road if you purchase the house in its current condition.  And double check with your Realtor and Insurance Agent to understand what items are and aren’t covered by the homeowner’s insurance you are purchasing.
  • Remodeling – Kitchen or bath remodeling might be something you have planned for your new home.  If so, create a strategy for how and when you’ll be able to knock out this task.  Include all construction costs/estimates along with a cushion to cover the inevitable surprise costs that come with all remodeling project.
  • Home Improvements – While bigger items, like carpets and blinds, are often covered in the purchase agreement, there are other home improvement items you’ll want to keep in mind as you’ll be handling them yourself.  Even the ‘perfect’ home will need a bit of touching up once you move in, if for no other reason than to truly make it your own.  Allocate money for repairs, painting, and landscaping.
  • Nesting and Lifestyle – Along with paint and a bit of landscaping, there are other costs first-time homeowners often fail to prepare for when creating their budget.  Not only does your budget need to include your mortgage, but it also needs to cover expenses such as cable, electric, water and sewage, and home owner’s association dues (if you’ll have any).  You might also discover that you’ll want a larger bedroom suit because of space or that you’ll need yard equipment now.  Make sure you allot money in your budget for these type of lifestyle and nesting expenses.

It’s true that you can’t be prepared for absolutely every possibility because in life, sometimes things just come up.  However, with the proper planning, you and your realtor will be able to identify most of the potentially hidden costs associated with your new home purchase, giving you the opportunity to plan for how you’ll handle any surprises with out breaking a sweat!

 

Moving Tips for Homebuyers

You bought a new house — congratulations!  Now the hard work begins as your prepare to move into your new home.  Here are a few moving  tips to help make your move less stressful and go as smoothly as possible:

  1. moving tipsResearch your options for movers and don’t just settle for the first company that appears in the search results.  Ask around and check references.  You want to work with a company that you know will get your items from your old house to your new houses safely and at a reasonable price.
  2. Speaking of price, when you get estimates, be honest and tell them about everything you’re going to want them to move.  Sandbagging items can slow down your move and potentially cost you more.
  3. Book your move early so you can secure the best date and time for your schedule.  If you wait until the last minute to book your movers, odds are you’ll be forced into their schedule and timeframe.
  4. If you’re having your home packed by professionals, be there while they pack.  Being able to oversee their progress will give you peace of mind and the advantage of knowing what’s going in each box.  You can also label and tag the boxes (color-coded stickers for each room) yourself and put your last name on the box along with a description of what’s going inside.
  5. If you’re coming from an apartment, block off parking if possible.  Having parking that is closer to your front door will give the movers an advantage, making it easier for them, and help to move the process along at a quicker pace.
  6. Take inventory of what you have once the packing is complete and before the movers arrive.  This way you’ll know that you have everything and nothing is missing or was left behind.
  7. Have bottled water and a few easy to handle snacks available to offer your movers.  A simple gesture of appreciation will go a long way with their morale — and potentially the pace at which they move your belongs.
  8. As your movers are unloading, move larger items, like furniture and rugs, into position.  This will make it easier for you to unpack once you start the process.
  9. Once the move is complete, take time to inventory everything and make sure nothing was damaged during the move before you sign the statement of delivery from the movers.  And it’s not a bad idea to take a moment to review the fine print, as some companies may not accept reports of broken items after you sign-off.
  10. Pack a suitcase with everything you’ll need for the first 2 to 3 days, including toiletries, towels, medication, and clothes.  This way you’ll be able to unpack at a leisurely pace instead of finding yourself frantically looking for the box containing your toothbrush and PJs.

How to Search for a Home

When house-hunting fever strikes, it’s easy to let it take over and just download the latest real estate app and immediately hit the streets to tour homes on your own.  If you want to be successful though, there are a few tips and questions you should prepare for first.

To help you find the best possible home for you and your family, here are my best tips on how to search for a new home the right way.

Do Your Research First

Yes, your real estate agent is the expert, but as with anything in life, you want to come to the table prepared.  Do your homework and be proactive!

Check out the neighborhoods you like online and drive around the area on the weekends and in the evenings, so you can get a feel for your potential neighbors, the activity and vibe of the area, the schools, and the overall community.

Understand the Terminology and Process

Purchasing a home is unlike any other purchase you’ll ever make.  It’s both exciting and overwhelming, so you want to be as prepared as possible before you begin the process.

If this is your first home purchase, take time to understand the real estate process and basic terminology.

Home Search Tips

  • Avoid searching for homes that are over your budget.  Establish your parameters before you start your home search, stay within your budget, and allow some wiggle room for negotiating.
  • Always take your realtor with you when you tour a home.  Their extra set of expert eyes will spot things you might otherwise overlook.  Also, if they let you, snap a few photos and takes notes so you can remember the details about the house later.
  • Before you make an offer, walk through the home twice.  You might be surprised by what you notice the second time through.
  • Speaking of touring a home, open all doors, windows, and cabinets.  You want to know as much as you can about the house before you consider making an offer.
  • If it’s your second walkthrough, bring your tape measure and make sure the house will fit your furniture.  Also, take a moment to just sit quietly in the living and the master bedroom to find out how much outside noise you can hear.  If possible, tour the home first on a weekday and the second time on a weekend so you’ll get a full idea of what the neighborhood is like.

Work with a Realtor

In today’s digital age, with so much information available at your fingertips, many people wonder if they really need to work with a realtor or if they can buy and/or sell a home on their own.

While there are some people who are able to do this successfully, trying to buy or sell a home on your own is risky business and not something most of us should attempt.  The experience and expertise a realtor brings to the table can save you time and money.

A realtor will also make the overall search process easier by doing the legwork for you — they will pull together a list of houses that meet your wants and needs and call to schedule the showings on your behalf.

Ready to get started? Contact me now!