Hi Trulia, What is the best advice we can get for first home buyers?

Asked by Rmejia1214, Houston, TX Tue Feb 18, 2014

My future wife and I have been wanting to buy a home. We are first home buyers and have no clue what to do. I know for us people that don't know how to go about home buying, we can get screwed over. We would really appreciate your help to avoid that. Thanks!

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Sharon Felton, Agent, Nashville, TN
Tue Feb 18, 2014
Essentially there are five important steps to buying your first home:
1) Find a reputable mortgage lender and figure out, with their help, exactly how much you can comfortably afford. That means you're going to have to submit some personal financial documents, and your credit score will be checked, etc. It's no use dreaming of a $400,000 dollar house if you can only afford $200,000, though. Your goal is to be preapproved. Don't forget that you'll have to budget for property taxes and for homeowners insurance.
2) Find a Realtor(R) with whom you feel comfortable. You may wish to "interview" several. One will seem to listen just a bit better than the others. That's the one you want. Good advice? Select a "buyer's representative."
3) Search for homes -- online first, and visit the ones you like in person. Take notes. Figure out what are your "must haves" and your "really wants." Eventually, one will stand out, and then, you're going to want to --
4) Pull the trigger and make an offer (through your Realtor). The offer will either be accepted outright, rejected outright, or will produce a counteroffer. Your Realtor can explain the process here.
5) Go to the closing table where you get to sign lots of documents -- and obtain the keys to your new house! Best of luck.
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2 votes
Dennis Evans, Agent, Clifton Park, NY
Wed Feb 19, 2014
A "first" time home buyers seminar is a great place to start.. I know this all sounds so complex with so much to know.... But after you find the right realtor... It as easy as just picking one out, after that, you will be hand held and this will become a very happy event in your lives!
1 vote
I think a 'seminar' is overwhelming for first time home buyers in our CRAZY Houston market. As you say, finding a great Realtor is what they need.
Flag Wed Feb 19, 2014
Valerie Smith, Agent, Houston, TX
Tue Mar 11, 2014
Please download a free copy of the best selling "Buying a Home: Don't Let Them Make a Monkey Out of You!, simply complete the form below. You will be taken to a page with your coupon code and download instructions. Go to: http://valerie.helpubuyamerica.com/bah.html for download instructions.
0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Sat Mar 1, 2014
First thing: Figure out (with your wife) what sort of home you want. Single family? Townhouse? Condo? Figure out the general location. Identify any other "must haves" and "nice to haves." You probably won't be able to get all of them, but you really need to have some clarity and a priority list. That, really, is the first thing you and your future wife need to do. Before Realtors. Before lenders.

Second thing: Find a good Realtor, one who works with first-time home buyers. Now, there's a lot of good advice below suggesting that your first step should be prequalification. I respectfully disagree. A good Realtor will be able to suggest some really professional loan officers. It'll make life a lot simpler for you (and your agent, too) if you start off with a competent loan officer or mortgage broker. (Many are. Some aren't.) Let your Realtor help you on that search.

Third: Get prequalified.

Fourth: Once you know approximately how much you can afford, return to your agent and get a general sense of what that will buy you. What items are you going to have to cross off your list of "nice to haves"? Then--even if you're not quite ready to buy yet--go out with your agent and look at some properties. That's part of your education process. Meanwhile, your Realtor will get a much better idea (beyond the list of items and your previous discussions) of what you want.

Fifth: Go house-hunting.

Hope that helps.
0 votes
Kim Benedict, Agent, Overland Park, KS
Sat Mar 1, 2014
Please, please, please, get pre approved first before going out to look... and go to several mortgage brokers as some of them are still living in the bubble and giving miss information!

I had this happen to a guy... he was told by one bank he could afford way more in a home than he really could. After we spoke a while and looked at a few homes I knew there was not way he could afford what the guy told him. I had him speak with my mortgage broker and sure enough he was way off track! This has set him back and heart broken as his dreams are pushed way back....

Then -
-Do not buy any large purchases like a car! Pay down all your debits and save all you can.
-Do your home work on where you want to live.
-Be open minded and look beyond what the home looks like, look at the bones/structure remember you can change everything in the home once its yours!
-Home inspections are a must! Have owner credit you or fix the issues on their dime.
-Don't over extend yourself and be house rich and cash poor so you are only living for your mortgage payments and not enjoying your new home.
-Be patient as buying is not an easy process and it takes time.
0 votes
Shenni and S…, Agent, Sugarland, TX
Sat Mar 1, 2014

Congratulation on taking the first step in the home buying process! by getting ready and thinking seriously about it, your second step should be getting yourself pre approved even before you start looking at the homes. This pre approval will tell you how much of a home to can afford, what sort of down payment is required and what will be your monthly payment (i.e. monthly mortgage including your PMI if any and your taxes) I know of some good lenders who can get you pre qualified the same day based on the information you provide them. (their are many loan programs available for first time home buyers which can assist you with your closing cost. Third step would be to pick a neighborhood with good school district if you have kids, or neighborhood close to your work. Third step is where I come in as your agent, when you tell me what is your priority, your work or schools, and what you have been qualified I can look at some nice neighborhoods for you and then you can drive by the neighborhood and see it for yourself and get the feel o the neighborhood, I can also provide you with the demographics of the neighborhood, what they are selling for in their neighborhood and whenever a new listing comes up, you will be immediately notified.

My advice to you would be to have an agent who represent you as a buyers agent and never go with the listing agent, because their fiduciary duty is to the seller. You need an agent who can represent you walk you through the process and have strong negotiating skills. I have what it takes to make this process of home buying smooth and easy. I have been in the industry for more than 15 years and have many happy buyers and sellers in my friend circles.

I can be reached at 832-526-6876 or email me at shenni.soofi@gmail.com I look forward to working with you.
0 votes
Barry Shapiro, Agent, Camarillo, CA
Thu Feb 27, 2014
Pick up a copy of the best-seller book: Your First Home, the Proven Path to Homeownership...
Buying your first home is probably the most exhilarating material experience you can have. Nothing else compares. It's where you hang your hat, where you rest your head; it's a source of security, an investment in your financial future. More importantly, a home becomes part of the psyche that houses your most powerful memories. You can reminisce about a rental, but you'll never love it the same way. Your home is where you build a workshop or cement a swing set into the ground or plant a rose garden like my dad and I did. There really is no place like home, especially when it's your own... - Gary Keller, author of Your First Home
0 votes
Karen Rice, Agent, Hawley, PA
Thu Feb 27, 2014
Don't take on any new debt during this time if you can help it, until you have already purchased your home! Keep your debt-income ratio healthy. :) Good luck!
0 votes
Hank Wilson, Agent, Bowling Green, KY
Thu Feb 27, 2014
My best advice is to do what you already have and ask questions! Ask friends, family and neighbors if they know of a good Realtor. Once you select a Realtor they can walk you through every step from browsing to closing.
0 votes
Kevin and Ju…, Agent, Wildomar, CA
Thu Feb 27, 2014
Good answers given - Get pre-approved with a reputable lender first, then interview a few buyer's agents to find one you like - Happy hunting!
0 votes
Jordan Gouger, Agent, Austin, TX
Thu Feb 27, 2014

Congratulations on your decision to buy a home! I would like to add a few things that have not been said already. First of all find an agent that works with first-time home buyers. These agents tend to be patient and are willing to listen to your needs. Someone buying their first house is going to have a lot of questions and needs someone to guide them through it. Ask as many questions as you need. You are the one buying the house and want an agent that is able to answer your questions.

Secondly, try to find an agent that is either a Texas Affordable Housing Specialist or an Accredited Buyer's Representative. These agents are specifically trained to educate consumers about various first time home buyer programs available to Texas Home Buyers.

Good luck on your home search!
0 votes
Don Maclary, Agent, Virginia Beach, VA
Wed Feb 19, 2014
Stop trying to figure it out online, Sit down with a Realtor and sign up for a local first time buyer class
0 votes
Barb Kelley, Agent, Cypress, TX
Wed Feb 19, 2014
Good morning!
Great question! I work with first time home buyers all over Houston and just closed on a home yesterday for a single guy in his late 20's purchasing his very first home. I know he'd be happy to provide a reference on me and my services. You need a qualified buyer's agent that will walk you, step by step, through the entire process as well as a great lender to do the same. I'd be honored to provide you with my services at no charge (Seller pays the Commission). I have a list of preferred lenders that can help you get started on obtaining the necessary 'pre-approval letter'. They will even do the work (pulling credit, etc). for you which takes away a lot of the work. Please contact me and we'll get you started on obtaining the 'American Dream'!!
Barb Kelley, SRES, CNE, CHMS
RE/MAX Realty Center
0 votes
Rick Walters, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Magnolia, TX
Tue Feb 18, 2014

I have helped many First-time home buyers and would love to help you as well. The first thing you need to do is fill out an application and get pre-approved for a home loan. This is accomplished by pulling a credit report from all 3 bureaus, determining income with the use of tax returns for the previous 2 years, W-2s for the previous 2 years and paystubs for the last 30 days. Finally we will take a look at assets which consist of the last 2 months bank statements and any retirement such as 401k or IRA etc. Once I have a pre-approval I will email a letter to your buyer's agent and you are ready to start shopping for your new home! I would be happy to speak to you about the rest of the process. You can learn more about me and my company by visiting my website at http://www.mortgagesbyrickwalters.com. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me at 281-928-7994 or you can email me at info@mortgagesbyrickwalters.com.
0 votes
Beth Barth, Agent, Sonoita, AZ
Tue Feb 18, 2014
My suggestion is to find an Accredited Buyers Agent that specializes in the area you wish to buy (it is in your best interest not to use the listing agent). They will help you find a mortgage lender to get you started. The mortgage lender will tell you how much home you can qualify for and then you can determine how much of a mortgage you feel comfortable with. Best thing next is to get pre-qualified ( not pre-approved). In a hot market pre-qualified buyers have a big advantage over other buyers. Start looking on line and meet with your agent. The agent will go over your wants and needs in a home. You then will put together a list of homes you would like to see. The list is ever changing with new homes coming on the market, price changes and homes that are back on the market. Make a date with your agent to start viewing homes. Try not to see more than 6 homes in one day - too many and it gets foggy. Once you are ready to make an offer work closely with your agent on an offer price. Have the agent prepare a list of comparable sold homes so that your offer will be solid and to show the seller how you came to your offer price. Be prepared to go back and forth in negotiations - this is where a great agent is worth their weight in gold. Once you have an accepted offer your agent really goes to work. They will help you schedule all of your inspections, keep track of the time frames, be present for the appraisal, review the title report, present you with a closing costs estimate, work with you and your lender to make sure your mortgage in on track. Once your inspections are completed you go back to the negotiation table to address issues revealed in the home inspections and work with the seller to make repairs. Once the appraisal is in to the lender you are close. Then your agent will coordinate with the Escrow company for your final documents and your signing. When the sale records you get with your agent for the keys to your very own home!
0 votes
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Tue Feb 18, 2014
My best advice is to be careful of what advice you listen to. The basics are get pre-approved with a quality lender. Select an agent to assist you carefully, not a friend or family member unless they are also the most qualified and experienced available. Family and friends all have opinions, they are not all valid and may cost you a home or two if you place them above your selected professionals.
Be flexible in your goals, once you are pre-approved and start looking you'll likely need to adjust your wish list to match what is really available, this is normal.
If your jobs are secure, income is good, plans are medium to longer term buy near or at the upper end of your budget. If not, be more conservative. Remember mortgage interest is tax deductible, rent is not, when you compare payments you can afford more in a mortgage than you are comfortable with your rent. Adjust your withholdings when you are under contract or closed. Getting a big refund is nice, but it's an interest free loan to the government. By adjusting your withholdings when you are at least under contract you'll have more liquid funds to work with, just don't blow it on silly things. Make no major purchases until after you buy your home. Buying a car, or maxing out a credit card before you buy will limit your options and may even cause you not to get approved.
I could go on, but if you get the right lender and agent up front, I won't need to. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and purchase. Two major life steps coming close together may make for some tense, but exciting times. Have patience with each other and put the marriage ahead of the wedding or the purchase.
0 votes
John Reeves, Agent, San Diego, CA
Tue Feb 18, 2014
0 votes
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