For many of us, New Year’s resolutions often follow a similar pattern.
Substitute those after-work trips to McDonald’s with a healthy, home-cooked meal and an extra half hour of exercising to lose that extra weight.
Set the alarm an hour earlier every morning so there is enough time to wake up and meditate before going to work, which will make dealing with that miserable coworker a little more bearable.
Set aside a few evening hours once a week that family member or friend we haven’t heard from in a while and check in.
However, there are some resolutions that are more involved and carry more weight than others. If your New Year’s resolution is to become a first-time homebuyer in 2017, then be prepared for an increase in stress and a slight decrease in free time. Buying a home is an exciting milestone in life, but there are a lot of steps that take place behind-the-scenes before the keys of the house can be handed over to you.
Before you delve into the deep-end of researching the necessary steps to begin the homebuying process, there are three things I believe every future homeowner should know as soon as they consider taking this big step:
1. Don’t just save for the down payment.
In the past, word spread through the grapevine that in order to be financially secure in the homebuying process, a potential homebuyer’s goal should be to save enough to cover the cost of the down payment. Though substantial, it’s not enough. There are additional costs that are coupled with securing a loan that will need to be paid off upon closing, which have nothing to do with the down payment amount you were already prepared for. My advice? Research these less-talked about costs, calculate them in with the predicated down payment, and save enough to cover this total (or more, if possible)!
2. Mortgage rates have been on the rise.
People who have made the decision to buy a home in the near future are feeling a sense of urgency to find that dream home and commit. Since the recent election, mortgage rates have risen around 0.40%, which is fairly substantial. While the housing market remains stable, real estate prices are expected to rise as well. If you are trying to be more frugal in your purchasing habits, don’t continue procrastinating on your decision to purchase a home.
3. Let a trusted realtor be your guide.
Deciding to put your allegiance in a real estate agent should not feel as though you’ve given up, or that you aren’t intelligent or savvy enough to go through the process yourself. Don’t let pride cloud your better judgment. Working with a realtor should not have a black mark of “settling.” Do your research, find someone you trust, and let them be your guide through the homebuying process. The uncorrupt realtors are not out to take advantage of you. They have the expertise to negotiate prices and the knowledge to ensure that the seller is not jipping you. Many homeowners opt out of working with a real estate agent because they don’t want to give them a cut of the end price, but this proves that these individuals were either misinformed or did not do the proper research. It is actually the sellers of the home who are paying for this commission, not you.
Use these tips in preparation of the bigger steps ahead by thinking of them as a pre-planning guide. Purchasing a home for the first time is one of the most thrilling yet aggravating landmarks for a person. I hope to make that process as straightforward and transparent as possible. For more homebuying and real estate tips, continue to check back for my updated posts!