Here are some helpful tips to get you started on the right path as a first time home buyer.
1. The first step before you do anything is to find out how much money you can borrow from a bank/mortgage company. Check with different lenders to see who can get you the best deal. Once you know what you can afford, then you can begin to plan.
2. Determine what you need in a home, not necessarily what you want in a home. Make a list of those needs to give to your Realtor. When you are searching for homes you will find that it is very rare to find a home that has absolutely everything you are looking for. If you stick to what you actually need, you will have better success in your search.
3. Research areas/communities that are of interest to you. Determine what things are important such as schools, proximity to shopping, restaurants, and local activities. Drive through the communities to get a feel for what they are like.
4. Learn as much as you can about the process of buying a home. Some local Realtors or lenders will offer first time home buying seminars. If you can find one in your local area it would be helpful to attend. If you cannot attend a seminar, look on the Internet for a home buyers guide such as the one at Bankrate.com - http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/real-estate/BuyerGuide2004/
5. Select a local Realtor to help you begin your search for a home. You can search Internet sites such as Realtor.com or Homes.com, but a Realtor has access to all of the homes in the local MLS. They can provide you with information on the home, the area and answer any questions you may have. A Realtor can show you properties of interest.
6. Learn about the contract and what is involved. Your Realtor can take you through step by step the process of a contract. After it is signed by buyer and seller, it is called an executed contract. Then you would want to get a home inspection. If everything is fine with the inspection, then you can go forward towards closing.
7. Know what happens at closing. Again, a Realtor can walk you through what to expect at closing. You will need to have money for closing costs such as title search, processing fees, taxes, and insurance.
Buying your first home is an exciting and overwhelming experience. So make sure you are prepared.
Tammy Hayes, Realtor, Sandals Realty, Punta Gorda, FL firstname.lastname@example.org