Home-buying tips for first-timers and old-timers
Whether you are buying a home for the first time or you are just looking for an upgrade, it is never a bad idea to arm yourself with tips that can make your search go from overwhelming to enjoyable. Rather than learning the hard way about hidden expenses and difficult neighbors, there are things you can do to feel more confident as you begin your search.
Consider all the costs. When starting the home-buying journey, the first thing to consider is the cost and expenses. When pre-approved for a mortgage of a certain amount, keep in mind that number is not a target — it is a maximum. While a seller’s market often means little wiggle room on price, your best bet is to find a property below that number so you have a financial cushion when negotiations happen. It is important to remember the mortgage is not the total cost of your home. It usually only covers principal, interest, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance premiums. Homeownership involves many other expenses like closing costs, home repairs and potential yearly increases in property taxes.
Be flexible but firm. Finding the right home requires a delicate balance of flexibility and finesse. At the same time, you want to stand firm when it comes to your non-negotiables in your new home (price, school district, a second bathroom). This is where having a real estate agent can be of enormous benefit. Agents have the expertise and time to devote to your search that allows you to flex when opportunity arises and get a home that doesn’t break your budget.
Meet the neighbors. While location is important, many factors feed into a great neighborhood. From disputes over pets and parking to personality clashes, neighbors can have a big impact on your happiness as a homeowner. Before committing to a neighborhood, take time to walk the street and gauge compatibility with the neighbors you meet.
More house is more work. Television shows have glamorized home renovation. Before deciding on a “fixer upper,” make sure you have a full understanding of what it will take — and how much it will cost — to make the house match your vision. Construction projects often take longer than anticipated and can reveal other problems that end up costing more money.
Use your head, not your heart. One final piece of advice – do not let your emotions take over the process. Choosing a home can be stressful and overwhelming. It is important to keep a level head. No decision this big should be made on an impulse, so take your time and think through every aspect of the process.
Ready to buy? Need a few more answers? Try the Boston Home Center or Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA).