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!

Home Value: Estimate Before You Sell

Are you considering selling your home?  Before you start the process of putting your home on the market, do a quick home value estimate first.  A quick estimate will give you an idea of whether or not selling will give you a good enough return on your investment to make now the right time to sell.

Home value estimators also provide a great guide for bidding on a potential home you are interested in.  The estimator will give you an idea of what homes of similar value go for in the same area.  While your realtor will provide you with more information to use in your final offer, an estimator is a great first-line of reference during the process.

Here are two home value estimators I recommend:

Home Value Estimator by NerdWallet

Home Value Estimator by Chase

Once you have your home value estimate, contact me and let’s discuss optimal pricing and get started on the process of getting your home on the market!

 

Buying a Home 101

Your first home purchase…it’s both exciting and a little overwhelming for some first-time homebuyers.  Not to worry though because our team of experienced realtors has your back!

To help you get the lay of the land, we’ve compiled a list of the basics to help you started down the road towards becoming a first-time homebuyer.

Tip #1: Get Pre-Approved

Before you take off looking for that ‘perfect home’, get pre-approved fist.  In today’s market, houses move quickly, so when the time comes that you do find that perfect home, you’ll want to be able to make an offer immediately.  Being pre-approved will give you the ability to make an offer with certainty and will help put you at the top of the pack should there be competing offers on the table.

You’ll also want to take time to clean up any credit issues or concerns that might negatively impact your ability to buy a home before you apply for a loan.  Dispute and remove any incorrect or non-relevant items from your credit report and get your credit cards and outstanding loans down as far as possible before applying for your first home loan.

Tip #2: Understand Your Finances and Requirements

Having a down-payment and knowing how much house you can truly afford are key before you delve into the home buying process.  While it’s true that there are many programs out there that are specifically designed for first-time homebuyers that do not require you to put down 20 percent, odds are, unless you qualify for a VA Loan, you’ll need something to put down.  Securely stash away as much as you can comfortably afford to put down 2-3 months prior to applying for your home loan.

Next, sit down and create a home buying budget to discover how much home you can comfortably afford.  Be sure your analysis includes things like utilities, insurance, principal payments, and all general living expenses.  If you can, check out a homebuyer or financial planning course either online or in your area. In these courses, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of just what you need to budget for specifically and how to best invest and plan for your financial future.

Tip #3: Have a Plan and a Professional Support System

Once you’re ready to start the process, find a realtor that not only has an outstanding reputation but that you connect with on a personal level as well.  This person will become someone you become very close to and will rely on heavily throughout this process.  You want to ensure you find someone you feel comfortable talking to and who you know will have your best interest at heart.

Outline a plan of what you’re looking for, the areas you are interested in living in, and what your goals are for the next 5-10 years.  Share all of this with your realtor so they can help guide you towards a home that meets your wants and needs.

Also, ask questions along the way.  Your realtor is there to support you, so take advantage of their knowledge and experience.  And listen to them if they raise a flag or spot a possible cause for concern about a house, say perhaps a potential foundation issue — take their warning to heart.  And if you’re unsure, feel free to get a second opinion or inspection.

Tip #4: Do Your Homework

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.

Tip #5: Be Flexible and Keep an Open Mind

It’s important to have an open mind when you’re looking for your new home, especially for many first-time buyers who are on a budget. Be careful not to soak in too much HGTV and make sure you’re being realistic about what is available in the area that you want to live in, while also staying within your budget.

Many of the cosmetic items you see in a home can be updated or fixed over time, so don’t get hung up on the little things and expect that everything is going to be perfect inside the house.  Focus on the structural aspects of the house: roof, foundation, plumbing, windows/doors, etc.  Those are the costly items that you’ll want in tip-top shape before considering buying a home…the cosmetic items can be addressed over time.

Tip #6: Plan for the Future

Don’t try and purchase the home you think you’ll retire in, but rather, focus on buying the home you think you’ll need for the next 3-5 years.  Make sure it’s big enough for you and your family today and allows you a little room to grow.

Ready to get started? Contact me now!