Buying a home can be an emotional experience, especially the first time around. You want your home to be a place where you feel happy and secure. It's where many of you will welcome friends or raise a family. A house is a big investment — one that can help you build a strong foundation for the future. If you've done your homework and are ready to buy, here are a few tips to homebuying — along with some pitfalls to avoid.
- Don’t Fall in Love with a House You Can’t Afford
Especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer and new to the experience, it's important to be as objective as possible and focus on what you really need — and what you can realistically afford. (Check out our Mansion or Yurt: What Can You Afford to figure out what makes sense for you financially.)
Make sure you've thought carefully about the future in doing your math. You need to be comfortable with your monthly payment even if you changed jobs or your income went down. Do you plan to start a family or are there any other big expenses like college tuition to consider?
Remember: The perfect house will not seem so perfect if you can't afford your expenses. Keep in mind added costs that are part of owning a home like property taxes, insurance, and repairs (think roof or furnace, for example).
- Consider What Suits You and Your Lifestyle
Key to buying the right place? Your lifestyle and how a prospective home fits into it. Think about your commute, what you like about a neighborhood, and what’s important to you — Schools? Being able to walk places? Don’t forget the maxim "location, location, location".
- Think About Resale Value
You want a house to be a good investment, so it's important to consider resale value. Location, curb appeal, the view, home layout, even whether a home is sunny or not — these are all factors that could impact your ability to sell your home at a good price. At some point you’re likely to move — the average homeowner stays in a home for 13 years — so make sure you think about how easy it might be to sell a place.
- Don’t Skip the Home Inspection
About 10% of recently bought homes weren’t inspected. That can lead to thousands of dollars of unexpected expenses down the road or buyer's remorse.
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