Melissa Kaspern's Blog
Are you in the market for your first home purchase? If so, congratulations! This is an amazingly exciting stage of life, and we know you must be excited.
Many first-time buyers run into issues that can turn their new home into a source of stress. Here are three common pitfalls you should watch out for as you purchase your first home.
Biting Off More Than You Can Chew
Far and away the most common pitfall that first-time home buyers run into is with setting realistic expectations. It’s a tough market for first-time buyers, and many are tempted to jump in deeper than they can manage. Just because you can get a mortgage without a full down payment doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, for example.
Your mortgage payment is going to be a reasonable percentage of your take-home pay, but don’t let it get too high. Many experts recommend 25 to 30%. And consider what your financial situation will look like if in a few years you add a child or two to the mix.
Everyone’s situation is different, but none of us have infinite money. Take the time to calculate what you can truly afford, and then stick to those figures. You may well tour your dream home as you look at available properties, but living there won’t be dreamy at all if it puts you in financial distress.
Not Considering Non-Mortgage Costs
If you’ve been renting all of your adult life, you need to be prepared for some non-mortgage costs that you probably haven’t had to pay yet.
First, understand that all repairs to your new home and property are your responsibility. If you have a $2,000 sewer repair crop up in the first 2 months of living there, do you have a way to pay for it? When you’re budgeting for your home purchase, make sure there’s enough left over to cover unexpected issues like these.
Second, if you’re bringing a full down payment to the table, there’s one more non-mortgage cost that could catch you by surprise: property tax. Make sure you know before you buy what property taxes are like on similar homes, and save 1/12th of that amount each month.
Making a Purchase Decision Too Quickly
A third pitfall for first-time homebuyers is rushing the purchase decision. Don’t get us wrong, we want you to buy a house! But your house is a long-lasting investment. Get to know various parts of your city, and take your time surveying what properties are available in your price tier.
Most first-time homebuyers won’t be in a position to sell and move up in house for at least five years. So don’t rush the purchase decision. Be sure before you commit.
If you're a first-time homebuyer and you've already started exploring available properties, you might think to yourself, "Why do I even need a buyer agent?" After all, you've been looking at homes for sale and the realtors who showed you the properties were very nice and helpful. But here's the deal: Those realtors are seller agents. They represent the home seller. They are legally, morally and ethically bound to get the best possible deal for the seller -- not for you as the buyer! This is just one of the reasons why first-time homebuyers can really benefit from working with a buyer's agent. Here are some more advantages.
Buyer Agents Work for You -- The Buyer
Once you're prequalified and your buyer agent understands the features you want in your first home, the agent will locate for-sale properties that fit your criteria. Not only that, but the buyer agent will coordinate and schedule showings of those properties for you. You don't have to do all of the legwork. And remember: As your representative, the buyer agent is out to find the best possible deal on a first-time home purchase for you.
Buyer Agents Are Great Negotiators
Every home sale and purchase is bound to hit a snag or two along the way. It's a lengthy process to buy or sell a home, and it's also a highly emotional transaction for buyers and sellers. It is, after all, the largest emotional and financial transaction that most people will make in their lifetime. Therefore, the negotiating skills of a buyer agent will be of great benefit to you as a homebuyer. If something starts to go wrong, they know how to negotiate a fix and they know professionals within their network who can help iron out problems -- from titling companies to real estate attorneys and even contractors to fix unexpected problems with the property.
Buyer Agents Are Property Experts
If you look at a home, do you know all the potential problem spots to examine to ensure that it won't have hidden costs? For example, can you tell if the plumbing is too old and will need major repairs within five years? Can you assess the age and functionality of the furnace, hot water heater and other features? Probably not -- but the buyer agent can because he or she has that experience.
Best of all, buyer agents don't charge any upfront or ongoing fees for their services. They split the commission with the seller agent who works for the home seller. For all these reasons and more, it makes great sense to put the expertise of a buyer agent to work for you!
You may see homes listed as in a search for a home that are denoted as a “Homepath property.” You may wonder what this means and if you’re even eligible to buy the property. It is a specialized program, so you’ll want to be informed on what it means to use it and what the process is.
Fannie Mae Programs
What was formerly known as a Homepath property is now known as The Home Ready Mortgage by Fannie Mae. With the Homepath program, people are able to find and purchase homes with a bit more ease and less financial risk. If you’re buying your first home, this could be the perfect way to get it. This program offers a list of foreclosed properties with really good deals on them. Repeat buyers can also find some great deals through this program, so it has something for everyone. It has so many benefits for anyone who is looking to buy a home.
How To Get A Homepath Property
Fanie Mae does require that you place a bid through a realtor. The program is designed for buyers to better understand the risks with buying foreclosed homes, while giving them a better opportunity to purchase a foreclosed home. Since foreclosed homes are sold as-is, there’s a risk that the home actually has some serious damage that needs to be repaired at a high cost. This is where a realtor comes in, as they can help buyers to understand ho much work a property may need and the exact risks involved.
Low Down Payment
Even if a home through the Homepath program requires extensive repairs, it’s not an opportunity that you should should shoot down right away. Unlike traditional mortgages where you’ll typically need 20% down to purchase, Fannie Mae only requires that buyers place as little as 3% down. This means that with the low cost of the available homes and the small down payment required, buyers can save thousands of dollars in total. Of course, this savings can help buyers to make the required repairs to the home.
There’s not many stringent requirements to be eligible to buy a Homepath property. Most people actually can be found to be eligible for these purchases. The biggest requirement is that before buyers reach the closing table, they’ll need to take an education course. This allows buyers to get assistance with the closing costs.
Learn More About Homepath
If you’re looking to buy a home at a low cost, you should definitely talk to your realtor about the Homepath program. They can also explain more about specific eligibility requirements. It’s easy to make use of this program, so start saving right now and search for a Homepath property.
For first-time homebuyers, going from property buyer to property owner may seem virtually impossible. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of buying a home.
Now, let's take a look at three questions that every first-time homebuyer needs to consider:
1. What is my "dream" residence?
One first-time homebuyer's definition of a "dream" residence may differ from another's. As such, you should consider what you'd like to find in a dream house before you begin your real estate search.
Creating a checklist of "must-haves" and "wants" in your house often serves as a great starting point for first-time homebuyers. This checklist will enable homebuyers to consider what they'd like to find in a dream home and plan accordingly.
Also, it is important to establish realistic expectations before you kick off a home search.
Many terrific houses are available in cities and towns nationwide, but no home is likely to have every feature that you desire in a dream residence.
Therefore, if you establish realistic expectations for your home search, you can avoid potential let-downs as you explore a broad array of high-quality houses.
2. How will I pay for a home?
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is vital for a first-time homebuyer, and for good reason. With pre-approval for a mortgage, you'll know what you can afford to spend on a home before you enter the real estate market.
Many banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you to discuss your mortgage options. These lenders can outline the differences between adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages, help you assess your credit score and ensure you can make an informed mortgage decision.
Furthermore, lenders can answer any mortgage questions that you may have. They can help you evaluate your current financial situation and enable you to obtain a mortgage that won't force you to revamp your day-to-day budget.
3. How do I begin searching for a house?
Beginning a home search is easy, particularly for first-time homebuyers who work with expert real estate agents.
An expert real estate agent understands what it takes to find a wonderful house at a budget-friendly price. In fact, he or she will do everything possible to help you navigate the housing market quickly and effortlessly.
Typically, an expert real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and submit home offers on your behalf. This housing market professional also will offer honest, unbiased recommendations throughout the homebuying journey to help you select a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.
When it comes to exploring the housing market, there is no need to work alone. Fortunately, you can hire an expert real estate agent who can help you get the best results possible during the homebuying journey.
Want to acquire your first home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can move one step closer to owning a top-notch house.