Buying a home for the first time is an exciting milestone in life but it can be an overwhelming one too. There are so many different considerations to think about when selecting your new home, that having a good plan from the beginning can help you to find the perfect match for you and your family. Here are the top 10 things to know before diving in to buying a new home!
1. Know What You Want
Knowing what you want out of your new home is the vital starting point for every home buying process. For new buyers, this vitally important since it will be the first time that you’ve made a decision on picking a home before, that you have an idea of what would work best for your personal situation.
Thinking about the best fit of how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, whether you would need an attached garage are great starting points for getting an idea of what types of homes would work best for you.
In addition to the features of the home, you will want to consider whether you prefer a more move-in ready residence or if you’re looking for a fixer upper to put your own style into it. Knowing the area that you are wanting to focus on looking in is key as well. Take some time to drive around in potential areas and narrow it down to specific neighborhoods, certain drive times from your work, or within a school district, and this will help you to narrow your plan down as well.
2. Know the Market
Knowing the market is one of the biggest challenges for new home buyers and is something that a real estate agent can be a great asset to help you walk through the market in your area.
Questions to ask your agent include:
- What is the average days on market in your area?
- What is the average sold per square foot price?
- How many active homes are there in the subdivision or area you’ve chosen to narrow down in?
Asking the right questions will help you to get a sense of the home buying climate at the time you’re looking to purchase. You will also want to ask your agent for updates through the home buying process, as these are important questions to know as you’re looking and also when you’re ready to place an offer. Knowing the market you’re looking in will give you a better sense of what kind of home you can get in the areas you’ve decided to focus on.
3. Use the Right Search Tool
Searching is a big part of the home buying process and using the most effective search tool will be an important part of your home buying experience. You want to use a search tool that is giving you the most up to date information as possible, no one wants to find a house that they love in a search engine and contact their agent to set up a showing – only to find out that it sold two weeks earlier and is no longer on the market!
In the greater Huntsville region, Matt Curtis Real Estate has one of the most comprehensive real estate search engines to find your new home. On the website you can find detail statistics for local regions within the greater Huntsville region – Huntsville, Madison, Athens, Decatur, Hampton Cove, Harvest, Meridianville, and New Market. There is also a search by drive time feature on the main screen, where you can check your commute times to and from home locations.
On the Matt Curtis Real Estate website you can find statistics for each area for average sale price, average price per square foot, and more. Using the Matt Curtis Real Estate website can be your first step to homeownership in the Rocket City!
4. New Construction
New construction is a popular home buying option in northern Alabama. There are many home builders to choose from and deciding whether buying new construction is for you is easier when you understand the difference between building a new home and buying a pre-existing one.
The process of buying new construction is often a longer process than buying a pre-existing home because of the time it takes to complete the build. Each phase of the home building process takes time and delays while they may not always happen, should be taken into account that waiting on materials or weather delays may be a realistic part of the process.
Home inspections are still important when purchasing a new construction house, to ensure that all parts of the property are up to code.
5. Choose the Right Real Estate Company
Finding the right real estate agent and real estate company can help your home buying experience go as smoothly as possible. Below are some important questions to ask your agent before you begin your search:
- How many homes has your team sold in the last 12 months?
- What is your process of helping a home buyer find the right home?
- How many reviews have your received?
- What is your average rating?
- How many assistants do you have helping out?
Real estate agents may also receive support from their real estate office in assisting with home buyers throughout their home buying process. At Matt Curtis Real Estate, there is a team of real estate agents, assistants, and administrators that help make customer service a priority for their clients.
6. Home Buying as an Investment
The choice between renting or owning can be a complex one for many home buyers thinking about buying their first home. Renting has the convenience of having a lower term commitment and set cost, while owning a home has the opportunity of growing your investment over time and having more freedom to make the space your own in many cases. Costs such as taxes, mortgage insurance, homeowner insurance, homeowner’s association dues, and other fees should be taken into account when determining the cost of home ownership.
How long you plan to stay in the house, current mortgage rates, and opportunity costs of using money that could be used as a down payment towards renting are factors in determining when the time is right for home ownership.
7. Getting Pre-Approved
Getting pre-approval is a crucial part of the home buying process. This helps you establish a relationship with potential lenders, and more importantly lets you know definitively what price range you should be looking within. Knowing how much of a down payment you will put down and what you want your monthly payment to be are the starting points for knowing what price range you will be looking at homes in. After you are pre-approved, you will know your loan type, potential fees associated with the loan, and how much money you should have saved overall.
8. Know What You Need
Having all of your crucial documents in order before you start the home buying process, if you have these documents ready you will be able to save time working with your lender to get a pre-approval. Some important documents you will need are W-2 statements, bank statements, and a record of where your down payment will be coming from, either savings account statements or other assets.
9. What Are the Upfront Costs of a Home Purchase
Purchasing a home does have some upfront costs associated with it and knowing what these costs may be will save any surprises. Earnest money is the money you put down usually in form of a check to selling realty company after you reach an agreement on a house. This money shows the seller that you are interested in your home and is applied towards your purchase at closing.
Home inspection costs are an important part of the home buying process and will be a cost you pay directly to the home inspector. The home inspection is done within 10 days of being under contract to purchase the home, and as a buyer you will work with your real estate agent to set up this appointment and have the inspection done on the home.
An appraisal is done to ensure that the house value meets the price that you have agreed to pay to the seller. This is required by the lender and you will send payment to the lender directly. If possible, it is beneficial to make sure the appraisal is scheduled after the home inspection, so if there are any issues that need to be addressed after the inspection you can work through those prior to having the appraisal done. Once the appraisal is completed, you will pay for it regardless of whether you complete the home sale or not.
Costs due at closing are any fees required by the lender and the down payment that you agreed upon during the pre-approval process. These costs are paid at closing by the buyer, unless there is a written agreement for seller to pay a portion or all of the closing costs.
10. Set Up a Plan
All of the steps above have led you to begin the framework for your home buying plan. Use the information you’ve gathered above to decide when the time is right for you to start the home buying process, know what your budget is, what type of home you’re looking for, and who will be helping you look for the home.
The best way to get started with your plan is to have a one on one consultation with a real estate agent, and this is free and a great way to have any questions answered that you may have about buying a new home for the first time.
If you have questions or are ready to start your first time home buying journey, contact Matt Curtis Real Estate at (256) 333-MOVE today!