First-Time Home Buyers
If you are a first-time home buyer, use the guide below for helpful hints and tips and learn how to avoid common mistakes when buying your first home in Charleston, SC.
- Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.
- Pre-Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. You'll also avoid being disappointed when going after homes that are out of your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home you're interested in is at or under the amount you are pre-qualified for, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you close your loan.
- List of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
- Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.
- Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:
- One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
- A file of the properties that your agent has shown to you, along with ads you have cut out from the newspaper.
- Paper and pen, for taking notes as you search.
- Instant or video camera to help refresh your memory on individual properties, especially if you are attending a series of showings.
- Location: Look at a potential property as if you are the seller. Would a prospective buyer find it attractive based on school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area?
- Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
- Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
- Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don't forget such essentials as:
- Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
- Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.
- Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
- You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please contact us directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.
Mistakes to Avoid...
As A First-Time Home Buyer
When a first-time home buyer begins hunting for the prize that has to serve both as a satisfactory home base and a solid investment, most feel a mixture of excitement (a home is a landmark achievement!) and maybe just a touch of apprehension. Like any expense you’ve never encountered before, it’s appropriate to take extra care the first time out and to pay attention to what experience teaches. Along those lines, here are some mistakes that are easy for a first-time home buyer to make. Fortunately, they are also easy to sidestep with a Jeff Cook Real Estate expert agent at your side:
1. Waiting for a better rate
Adjustable rates may well be about as low as they are going to get right now and some signs point to an increase in the coming months. For a first-time home owner who will be taking out a loan, if the property is right, hesitating to make a commitment based on a loan rate gamble is seldom a good idea.
2. Thinking short term
Consider thinking of a home as a lifetime investment. Even for those who are single or newly-wedded, it’s possible that being open to a house with extra rooms could end up saving considerably on moving, transaction and agent fees, taxes, etc. It’s equally important to look at neighborhoods and how they are changing and developing. If you do resell your home, location can make a big difference in how.
3. Underestimating hidden costs
The monthly mortgage payment isn’t the ultimate bottom line. When a first-time home buyer comes across a property that fills (or exceeds) everything he or she has been looking for, if the mortgage payment looks to be right, it’s easy to overlook other homeowner expenses. Experienced buyers make hardheaded estimates of maintenance fees and property taxes as they will be every bit as consequential as the mortgage bill.
For a first-time home buyer in South Carolina, when thoughtful perspective goes into your final decision, it’s that much more likely to be a decision that pays off in the long run. If you are preparing to buy this year, the Jeff Cook Team will be standing by to help get you started!