When I graduated, I wanted desperately to become a grown up and own my own place. Years later, I thought I made enough money to pay a mortgage. It was finally time to buy my own house and start livin’ the dream – except I didn’t know how. I wandered into a condo complex sans REALTOR and bought practically on-the-spot. Hooray for Gen Y impulsiveness.
Looking back, I wish I had taken time with an expert to find the right house for my first purchase. I met with my friend Josh Hill, a Gen Y REALTOR (working with Gen Y clients), and discussed what needed to happen before purchasing property for the first time. Here are some tips for working with a REALTOR to make your first purchase a success.
- Find a Realtor
If you don’t know of any, search for one on an independent review site where reviews can’t be edited or deleted by the business. You can even find a realtor on Yelp or Zillow.
Ask questions. Not only can the realtor help find a house, but he can help you find mortgage lenders, home inspectors, insurance agents, etc. as well as accessing resale statistics.
- Decide How You’re Buying the House
Before looking, you need to decide how you’re going to purchase, and what you can afford. You can’t expect a realtor to show you around until you know the price range.
Meet with an accountant and/or a loan officer at a mortgage company and see what you can afford. To put it in words that I understand: If I only have a $50, I wouldn’t look at True Religions, I’d shop for Levi’s. Use tools like a financial calculator for a better idea of what you can handle.
- Never Be Afraid to Ask Questions
You’re not expected to know everything. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. It’s okay to ask, “what are my different financing options?” when meeting with a mortgage lender, as it’s going to affect what type of property you can buy.
- Compile a “Wish List”
Really think about where you want to live. Do you want to live near public transportation, in a gated community, and live on the top floor, so you can’t hear your neighbors play “Just Dance” upstairs?
What neighborhoods do you hate – and why? A realtor can help you find properties you’re not familiar with/never considered based on their expertise and can help empower you to make the selections that fit your basic needs.
- Stay a Little Skeptical
Now that you’ve found a few properties that you like (and can afford), it’s time to go hunting. Make sure your realtor points out the defects as well as amenities.
Just like boyfriends, it’s difficult to find a home without flaws. Use your realtor’s expertise to help you see what the average first-time home-buyer can’t, like maintenance concerns, unpopular floor plans, etc. They can also recommend good home inspectors to inspect the nitty-gritty before purchase.
- Have Patience With the Process
After the inspection is done and financials are worked out, it’s time to complete the endless paperwork. Keep your patience!
Keep asking questions and be educated. You should know the difference between a down payment and a closing cost. Many save for down payment, but some don’t have 3-4% (or higher!) of the sales price to pay for stuff like pre-paid property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance premiums.
- Let Your Realtor Be a Life-Long Friend
Realtors can be your sounding board before and after you buy your home. Contact them if you have questions about things like annual property tax, refinancing, and service providers. And if you’re ever back in the market, you won’t have to tell your whole life story to anyone again.