First Time Buyers, Thoughts and Listening

First time buyers have so much to consider and, often, no real estate or sometimes thinking beyond an average lease term. They come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Jobs, goals, age…everyone has a different need, but what should all buyers and first time buyers consider, before buying?

What do you need? Are you buying because it seems like the thing to do or have you considered what you expect from a home? Sometimes expectations and budget don’t quite match. I like to spend time getting to know clients. We talk about where they live and how they live. Do you enjoy knowing neighbors, walks, sports or the gym? Are schools important? Where do you work and do you plan to commute? Are any changes planned? Will you need proximity to medical care? Will stairs be an obstacle?

Thinking about why you want to buy and how you want to live makes sense. I’ve watched so many buyers pick a home they love, in an impractical location. Location, location, location can mean more than just finding the perfect neighborhood. The best neighborhood might be too far from work or school. It might be beyond your budget. Consider homeowner’s fees. If you need a loan to buy, like most first-time buyers, have you considered the monthly payment for an association? I know of one neighborhood with the finest amenities. I won’t go into detail, but they have everything…seriously! The monthly fees amount to an added $150,000 in loan payment or qualification. This fee, although a great value, becomes an obstacle to subsequent buyers and

No big purchases or debt.

sometimes a burden to the buyer. Developers will sometimes pay the fee for a period of time in new construction, but considering the sticker shock for the next buyer or the shock as the “free period” runs out can be important. Will you refinance? Adding debt like a car, changing income or other plans, can mean you no longer qualify for the loan on the home you own. Don’t spend your down-payment or borrow money before closing!

  • Location (proximity and preference)
  • Budget changes? (car, family, retirement?)
  • Needs (wants vs needs)
  • Future Changes to available income?
  • Prequalify with lender. (I always prefer local)
  • Check down-payment and source.
  • Don’t add new debt.
  • Lifestyle

When I work with a client, hopefully you, I try to think ahead. I’ve been doing this for a long time…literally half a lifetime. Sharing the questions or offering advice is what any agent should offer, but thinking of the things you might not even know to ask is my profession. My goal is always to know you, listen to you and help you make the best decisions.

I’ll leave you with a few tips. First, always think about resale. No home is forever and circumstances almost always change. Drive the neighborhood you like on a weekend evening. Sometimes parking and the feel of an area is much different on a weekend after 5PM. Documents to see before making an offer should, ideally, include a survey, termite bond, utility history, insurance coverage and a 4-point inspection, if available. Old appraisals or inspections are nice, if the owner/list agent will release. Ask for more than one valuation. I will often pull comparables, with 2 or 3 estimates/Broker Price Opinions. Ask for a written estimate of closing costs. Nothing, well almost nothing, is more awkward than a big surprise for the buyer at closing. I produce an estimate for “ballpark” payment, cash to close and costs.

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