Buying a new home can feel daunting, especially if you’re buying for the first time. There are a multitude of factors to consider before you know which home is right for you, and so many hurdles to overcome before you can finally move in. Here are some tips to make the process a little easier.
- Set a realistic budget: Understanding what you can afford—and why—is essential to a good first-home choice. Consider your monthly expenses, debts, and savings to get a realistic idea of your budget. You can even make some lifestyle changes if you need a larger budget—but remember it must be sustainable. There are some helpful resources online for figuring out your home-buying budget before you even start looking, like this mortgage calculator from NerdWallet.
- Have all documentation ready: Preparation is key! Make sure you keep both digital and physical records when possible. Everything from paystubs, loan paperwork, and official documentation about your credit history will make the selection process much quicker.
- Shop around for mortgages: Don’t just take the first good-looking mortgage rate your bank offers. Visit different banks and compare mortgages. This is probably the most crucial first step when buying a new home because it helps clearly define your budget and gets you the best mortgage possible.
- Be patient and flexible: Since a new home is such a big purchase, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all of your different preferences and expectations. While this is great generally, it’s probably unrealistic that a new home is going to have every feature you want or need. Narrow down the most important features, like commute time to work, number of bathrooms and bedrooms, and square footage so you know what your necessities are.
- Consider the neighborhood: Location is especially important because where you live determines, in part, how you live. Where your home is located will most likely influence where your kids go to school, how much you pay in taxes, what you do in your free time, and who you socialize with. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure to spend some time exploring the area (at different times of day and night!) so you have a better idea of what everyday life is like there.
Although buying a new home is often stressful and time-consuming, being well prepared will make the process go much more smoothly—and you should soon be well on your way to enjoying your new home.