Last Updated on August 3, 2022 by Luke Feldbrugge
Buying your first home is an important and exciting time. The lead-up is often years of preparing your savings, your finances, and your vision of the perfect home.
In today’s market, finding the perfect house can be a greater challenge than it used to be. Housing inventory is tight, which means picking the right house at the right price is often easier when done with the help of an experienced real estate agent who understands your unique priorities.
For heroes like teachers, medical professionals, firefighters, police officers, and military personnel, Homes for Heroes can help you find the perfect house and save you an average of $2,400 in the process. To learn more simply sign up to speak with the local Homes for Heroes real estate or mortgage specialist in your area about how they can help you find a great home to purchase and save you significant money.
What are the best ways to prepare for being a 1st-time homebuyer? Here are 6 steps to prepare yourself to buy a home for the first time.
What to do Early on as a 1st-Time Home Buyer
1. Get to Know Your Home Market
The first step in any home purchase is to know your market. Right now, the national market is running hot and short in inventory. Prices are up, and mortgage rates are still at a historic low, which means that homes are going fast in every market. However, local markets also have their own ebb and flow, style, pricing, and trends.
Find the neighborhoods in your prospective city that have the features you love, are listed in your price range and are near the amenities you care about most. Discover which homes are trendy but have reached an overpriced zenith versus neighborhoods on the rise priced lower than the floor plans would suggest.
2. Define What You Really Want (and Don’t Want) in a Home
Make a list of what you really want in a house—and what you really don’t want. Sit down with a computer or notebook and start your wishlist. The best tool to help you determine your new home’s must-haves is the Homes for Heroes House Hunting Checklist.
Put things on your must-have list that are non-negotiable. Determine what goes on your must-have list by evaluating your current living situation:
- What things in your current space bring you joy or make life easier?
- What are things your current living space doesn’t have that frequently cross your mind?
Maybe you don’t enjoy cooking in your current home because food storage is minimal. If you find yourself saying, “I would cook more if I just had more space to store dry goods,” every time you go to prepare a meal, consider adding a pantry to your must-have list.
Some features that might be on a must-have list for your home are minimum square footage, minimum number of bedrooms, or appliances like a washer and dryer.
Deal-breakers are things you absolutely do not want in your new home. You may find a home in your price range that you love, but if it has anything on your deal-breaker list, it may mean you move on to a different listing.
Some features that may go on a deal-breaker list are a steep staircase, cramped bathrooms, minimal storage or a crawl space.
When determining your must-haves, think about features you would love to have but might not be necessary right now. Think of it as a bonus list of everything you would love to have in your dream home but aren’t essential to life right now.
Home features that may go on someone’s nice-to-haves may be a spacious backyard, entertainer kitchen, nearby schools, new appliances, natural light, or extra rooms for growth.
What to Avoid List
When determining things to avoid, consider things that are an inconvenience in your current living situation. The features on this list are less than ideal but can potentially be fixed or are something you can avoid when you decide to upgrade your home in the future.
Some examples of items that may go on a what to avoid list are narrow hallways, old plumbing, road noise, or a long commute.
One of the best ways to build your list and really understand what you want in a house is to tour homes. The great news is that you don’t have to visit open house events anymore. Instead, just tour a few dozen homes in your area online through photographs, 360 virtual tours, and Youtube videos.
3. Heroes: Reach Out to Homes for Heroes
Heroes in our society can sometimes find special opportunities designed as a small “thank you”. Heroes include teachers, medical professionals, military veterans, reservists, active-duty members, law enforcement, and firefighters. If that’s you, Homes for Heroes can turn your first home purchase into an opportunity to save.
If you close on a home while using Homes for Heroes real estate and mortgage specialists, you can receive a Hero Rewards check worth 0.7 percent of your home’s purchase price after closing. This decreases the cost, and increases the affordability of a new home for those who deserve the opportunity to become homeowners.
4. Tidy Your Financial Records
In the lead-up to buying a house, your financial records become a personal project. You have the opportunity as you save for your downpayment and closing costs to minimize your debts, clean your credit record, and get your credit score into the best possible shape.
Get your financial documents in order and start talking about homeownership and home loans with your banker or financial manager. They can help guide you through the process of setting up your finances to secure the best interest rates possible from mortgage lenders and prepare you financially for being a 1st-time home buyer.
5. Start Packing Your Rental House
As you start to get serious about house-hunting and are ready to make an offer, it’s a good time to start packing. Packing early on is an excellent use of that exciting pre-homeowner energy that can permeate your life as you get ready to buy.
Start gathering moving and packing supplies early and determine what essential items you need for day-to-day life. When you find pockets of time, pack up any non-essential items and store them in a safe space.
Packing before you close on a home can also help declutter your life before you move. If you come across any belongings you no longer love or don’t have a use for, consider finding them a new home.
When you finally close on your home, it will be a relief to see how much less work you have to do because you started packing early on and purged some belongings.
6. Get Your Mortgage Pre-Approved
When your down payment amount is ready, you have a close estimate of how much home you can afford. It’s time to get your mortgage ready. Having a pre-approved mortgage is important to sellers in a fast-paced market and may increase the chance of having your bid accepted.
So, start the mortgage application process early, especially as a 1st-time homebuyer. This will give you the chance to build the right mortgage plan for your financial future. The next 15 to 30 years can be shaped by the mortgage you choose at this stage.
Be sure to ask your lender about what types of mortgages you qualify for and weigh out the pros and cons of each type.
Your lender will help you complete the application process, and when your loan is approved, you can make bids backed with the financial surety of a pre-approved mortgage behind each offer.
Buying a Home with Help from Homes for Heroes
A hero like you deserves a great home, and that’s what Homes for Heroes is all about.
Sign up today to speak with your local Homes for Heroes real estate and mortgage specialist to learn more about how they can help you find the home you want and save you an average of $2,400 in the process.