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Moving On Up

Tips To Consider Before Buying Your First Home

There are few events in life that are more exciting than buying your first home. From deciding to purchase to closing on your mortgage, you will never forget the thrill of moving into your own home.

However, as exhilarating as the home ownership journey can be, it can also be quite intimidating. Seemingly endless options and decisions often lead to sleepless nights for home buyers who are ill prepared.

As part of our annual “Home” issue, Hendersonville Lifestyle reached out to local realtors to develop a list of tips that can help first-time homeowners enjoy a smooth purchasing process.

1.     Identify Your Needs

Before attending the first open house, prospective homeowners should perform a personal needs assessment. This assessment should consider a number of factors, including family size, lifestyle, work and school locations and desired features. By taking the time to evaluate their needs, buyers can develop a prioritized list broken down into “must haves” and “nice to haves.”


2.     Decide How Much Home You Can Afford.

Once buyers decide upon their needs, they can begin to determine what they can really afford. Usually, homeowner desires will outstrip their ability to pay for them. Every home feature has a cost, and the buyer must determine if it is worth it or not. For example, large families may determine that multiple bedrooms and baths are important (must haves), whereas granite countertops would be nice, but not necessary (nice to have).

3.     Determine The True Cost Of Home Ownership.

Many first-time buyers believe that their monthly house payment represents the total cost of their home. In reality, nothing is further from the truth. To calculate the real cost of ownership, several additional factors need to be considered, including property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utilities, homeowner’s association fees (if any), lawn care and home maintenance. Once these items have been quantified, prospective homeowners can get a true picture of the obligation that they are undertaking.

4.     Start Your Home Savings Account Now.

Home mortgages do not usually cover all purchase costs. Non-mortgage expenses can include deposits, inspections, home valuations or appraisals, title fees, down payments and closing costs. To avoid “closing shock,” it is best to begin saving early in order to have as much money available as possible to cover these expenses.

5.     Be Smart With Your Credit.

Home loans are usually priced and approved based upon applicants’ financial strength and history, including personal credit scores. Credit scores are impacted by a large number of variables, including open lines of credit, balances owed, payoffs, late or missed payments and bankruptcies. Before applying for a mortgage, all prospective homeowners should get a free copy of their credit scores and undertake prudent steps to raise them as needed to ensure that they qualify for the best loan terms and interest rates.

6.     Prequalify For Your Purchase Before You Venture Into The Real Estate Market.

Occasionally, prospective buyers find their perfect homes, only to find out later that they are unable to arrange sufficient and suitable financing to make the purchase. While disappointing and embarrassing, this situation can be avoided by obtaining mortgage “pre-qualification.” Based upon a lender’s assessment of income, credit history, net worth and employment, pre-qualification allows a buyer to know in advance how much home they can afford.

7.     Don’t Be A Lone Wolf – Use A Realtor.

Experienced, professional realtors can ease the burden on first-time home buyers by representing them in the purchase process from start to finish. Realtors place the needs and interests of their clients first, helping them negotiate better deals and avoid mistakes.