What are some tips for first-time home buyers?

Asked by Trulia, San Francisco, CA Sun Mar 4, 2012

Can you share some of your top advice or tips for home buyers?

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Coleen Allen, Agent, Colorado Springs, CO
Sun Mar 4, 2012
Get Pre-Approved with a good lender
Be Realistic
Remember Paint and flooring can be changed
Drive by the homes prior to scheduling a showing to eliminate areas you aren't fond of
Ask Questions
Don't buy furniture or any big purchases until after you close on your home. It could affect your credit.
2 votes
Brian L. A.…, Agent, Colorado Springs, CO
Mon Mar 5, 2012
There are numerous items and issues involved in the purchase of a home. I've compiled the following beginning steps to prepare both my first time home buyer clients as well as experienced buyers for Home Ownership

1. Find an Educated, Experienced REALTOR® who can help guide and advise you through the process
as your buyer agent. Look for Realtors who have invested their time and funds in attaining professional
education and performance related designations such as: CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) The
highest designation earned by a Realtor, ABR, Accredited Buyer Representative) proven specialists in
Buyer Representation, GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute) Considered to be the minimum education
standard for a professional Realtor.

2. Decide how much home you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home
equal in value to between 2 and 3 times your gross income.

3. Develop a wish list of what you'd like your home to have. Then prioritize the
features on your list into must haves and nice to haves so you will know which features you can live
without if you find a home that wtherwise meets all your needs.

4. Select three or four neighborhoods you'd like to live in. Consider items such as
schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, crime and safety. Drive them at different times
of day. Look at the condition of the other homes and yards. Is the area loud or quiet?

5. Determine if you have enough saved to cover your down payment and closing
costs. Closing costs, including taxes, insurance, etc. average
between 2 and 7 percent of the home price. If the seller is willing many of these can be requested to
be paid by the seller, but in many instances of short sales, bank owned properties and the like this may
not always be a possibility.

6. Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report.

7. Determine how large a mortgage you can qualify for. Also explore different
loans options and decide what's best for you.

8. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to pre-approve you for a

9. Do research to determine if you qualify for any special mortgage or down
payment assistance programs.

10. Calculate the costs of homeownership, including property taxes, insurance, utilities
maintenance, and association fees, if applicable.
Copyright Brian L. A. Wess

Brian L. A. Wess
Realtor®, Broker Owner
Military Relocation, Residential & Investment Specialist
Infinite Horizons Realty - Metro Brokers
Colorado Springs, CO
Direct: 719-528-6672
Web: BrianWess.com
1 vote
Barb Schiapp…, Agent, Colorado Springs, CO
Mon Mar 5, 2012
As you may have heard, this is a great time to buy because of low interest rates and excellent home prices. Along with the great answers below, I would add that you should always look for a buyer agent who you respect and get along with. You will be working many hours together so if you don't have a comfortable relationship it will make the process more stressful. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can save money buying directly through the listing agent- they will be representing the seller and not you! Most buyer agents only charge a small fee or may provide services with no cost to the buyer so why not have a professional assist you and look out for your best interests?
1 vote
Carrie Wilson, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Sun Mar 4, 2012
I agree with Melissa.. I would add:
Make a List of MUST-HAVES and CAN'T STANDS.. This will help you buy a home and not just a house.
1 vote
Monica Breck…, Agent, Colorado Springs, CO
Sat Sep 8, 2012
Everyone wants to be a homeowner and live the American Dream and today’s real estate market provides some pretty good perks for those looking to buy a home in Colorado Springs. However, before you buy, there are some things to consider. Purchasing a home is the most important decision you will make in your lifetime. Therefore, it makes sense to understand what’s important to know before you buy.

As property values have been falling, it’s a great time for home buyers to find good deals on Colorado Springs homes that are for sale whether you are looking for that perfect retail home or want to save a little more money by purchasing a short sale or REO property. While now is the time to take advantage of great pricing, you need to ask yourself if you are ready and willing to make a commitment to stay in the house for a few years. When people buy a home, they anticipate growing equity in their home over time. There was a time, not too long ago, where this happened pretty quickly, however, in today’s market, it takes longer. When you add in the transaction costs involved in buying and selling a home, you could find yourself losing money on your home if you try to sell too quickly. So, first things first – can you can make the commitment to stay in the home for a few years?

-When do you want buy? Depending on the time of year you begin house hunting, the market may be slower. For instance, if you are buying in the colder seasons (i.e., through the holidays), sellers may be more willing to offer incentives or be more flexible on price. If you aren’t in a hurry to buy, you might want to consider buying a home that is being sold as a short sale. The short sale process does take longer than a typical retail sale, but if you have the time to work through the process, you will have the opportunity to get more house for your dollar if you buy a short sale.

-What part of town and what neighborhoods do you want to live in? Colorado Springs neighborhoods that have better schools tend to have higher values. Even if you don’t have school-aged children, it’s an important aspect to consider when it does come time to sell because resale values will be higher.
Be sure the neighborhood you choose is one you can commit to staying in for a while, so do some research on different Colorado Springs neighborhoods to find out about property values and if houses are selling close to their asking prices. Find out about the attributes that are important to you such as schools, shopping, recreation, homeowners associations and dues, crime rates, etc.
How many houses in the neighborhood are for sale and how fast are they selling? Talk to neighbors to see how they like the neighborhood. If they are selling, ask why they are selling. Again, consider your lifestyle and make sure the neighborhood will work for you.

Another very important aspect of buying a house is financing. The average person needs to obtain a mortgage in order to purchase a home, and getting a mortgage these days isn’t as easy as it used to be! The human element of issuing credit has been removed from credit transactions, so the approval or denial of a mortgage is determined by your credit score. Your credit score is determined by the information that is in your credit report.

Make a list of things the house must have and a list of what you would like to have. Prioritize your list and separate the ‘have-to-have’ from the ‘want-to-have’. Don’t be too restrictive on your search criteria. For instance, include a price range that is 10% above and 10% below your budget.
Bring a notebook and camera with you to help you remember the details of each house. Take pictures and take notes about each because after you have seen several, you can easily forget details or get the details and houses mixed up!
With each house you see, keep an open mind. Don’t reject a house just because it was short a few features on your wish list or was a bit out of your price range. Remember, the asking price is simply a starting point. You will have an opportunity to negotiate once you are ready to make an offer.

Stay Positive, don't get to discouraged, and be patient for your dream home! :)
Web Reference:  http://www.PinkRealty.com
0 votes
Sal, Both Buyer And Seller, Colorado
Wed Aug 1, 2012
Go into this with the fact that everything you do is negotiable! Also, if you're married and a guy, let your wife pick the house and you just pay the mortgage...it'll save you from moving to another new house and turning your house that YOU picked out into a rental once your wife gets sick of it...just saying...it happened to a friend of mine, and it could happen to you...LOL
0 votes
Taura Torri, Agent, Colorado Springs, CO
Tue Mar 6, 2012
Your first step, as a first time buyer is to talk with a lender about price and payments and get an approval letter from them so you are ready when you do find the home for you. Also this puts you in a position to look at homes you are comfortable with the payment instead of looking first to find out that you are looking at homes that are beautiful but are priced a bit to high for your comfort level. Second, is to have an idea of what area you would like to live in. Don a web search to know if there homes in your price range in that area, is it in the school district that you want to be in. If you are not sure because you are new to the area ask your Buyer's Agent to help you by showing you how homes have sold in certain areas compared to others or see if they will take you on a tour of the city so that you can decide what area is the best fit for you.. Third, have a list of options that you MUST have in mind and maybe others that you would like to have, but are negotable. Forth, this may not be your forever home do try and keep in mind that even though you do not need a 3 bedroom home when you go to sell that home it will sell better at a higher price if it has more bedrooms and bathrooms or is in area of town that everyone seems to like.
0 votes
Suz A, Agent, Longmont, CO
Mon Mar 5, 2012
Investigate the neighborhoods you like, then focus on houses and what you can afford.

Interview several Realtors. Choose an agent with which you feel comfortable and communicates well.

0 votes
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