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 the Columbia/Lexington, SC area.
- 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 pre-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. Pre-approval is generally cost-free.
- Lists of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wants/wishes - things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically you may 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: 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 list or file of the properties that your agent has shown to you.
- Paper and pen for taking notes as you search.
- A camera to snap pictures of homes you have toured to help you remember your favories and features you really liked.
- Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
- Be Objective: Instead of just thinking with your heart when you find a home, also think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? How is the condition? Will the property be difficult or expensive to maintain? Would this property be difficult to sell for you someday in the future? Are there any standout features that will be good for you and for resale?
- 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 professional inspectors.
- Plan reinspection and pre-closing walk-throughs to take place after repairs are completed and again within 24 hours of closing.
- You want to check to see that the property is in similar condition with no damage, and that no changes have been made that were not agreed upon (i.e., a nice chandelier that came with the sale having been replaced by a cheaper fixture).
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 me directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail!