How can first-time buyers navigate the real estate market successfully?

If you’re planning to buy a home, get pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin your search. This shows sellers you are serious and ready to move forward. Pre-approval provides a price range for your search and allows you to make firm offers when you find the right property. Shop mortgage rates and work with a lender to examine your finances and credit to determine the loan amount you qualify for.

Define your must-haves

Compile a list of your absolute necessities in a home, like location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, yard space, garage, etc. Defining must-haves from nice-to-haves prevents you from overspending or compromising on things you want long-term. If your family is growing, ensure there are enough bedrooms. If you plan on working from home, consider a home office. Know your must-haves before shopping. In competitive markets, desirable homes sell rapidly. Be ready to view homes as soon as they hit the market. Sign up for listing alerts, scout neighborhoods you like and connect with an experienced real estate agent who flags new listings. Schedule showings quickly and be ready to submit an offer fast if you love a home. Ask your lender if they can expedite the mortgage approval process.

Make a strong offer

Making an offer on a home you want is an exciting step! Make your bid competitive by offering a list price or slightly above if necessary. Submit any pre-approval letters, proof of funds, or other documents to show you are creditworthy and close quickly. Earnest money deposit, quick closing date, and limited contingencies also appeal to sellers. Avoid initial lowball offers unless a home has been sitting. Be ready to negotiate any deal points. As a first-timer, you likely want to save money where possible. Don’t just accept the first mortgage rate you are quoted! Compare offers from multiple lenders and loan programs. Small differences in rates can impact monthly payments. Get quotes from banks, credit unions, and online mortgage brokers. Ask about first-time buyer programs that offer lower rates or down payments.

Factor in closing costs

Beyond the downpayment, remember to budget for closing costs which add up. These include lender origination fees, appraisal fees, attorney fees, title insurance, taxes, and prepaid interest. Closing costs typically range from 2-5% of the total mortgage amount. Get an estimate of all fees at the start of the mortgage process so you know the true upfront cash needed. Ask sellers for assistance. Surround yourself with the right Real Estate in Phangan professionals as a first-timer. Vet agents, lenders, attorneys, and inspectors to find pros who are experts in the local market with experience guiding new buyers. Lean on your agent to walk you through negotiations, contracts, and timelines. A great agent is invaluable in making the process smoother.

Explore downpayment assistance

If the downpayment is an obstacle, research downpayment assistance programs offered in your state or municipality. Eligibility is based on income limits or location. Temper expectations if you need to be flexible on something like location, size, layout, or condition to stay within budget. Consider fixer-uppers with renovation potential. Look at condos or townhomes instead of single-family only. Flexibility opens more possibilities. Focus on homes with must-haves you won’t compromise on.

Kendra C. Lee

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