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Buying Your First Home? Here’s What You Need to Know

5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Congrats! If you’re reading this article, you are more than likely purchasing your first home or are at least interested in taking the first steps towards that goal. That’s something to be proud of.

Southern Trust Mortgage knows that buying a home can seem difficult for a first-timer. You are faced with an endless list of tasks, steps, potential fees, and requirements, and might be left wondering whether or not you’re making the right decision.

You are certainly not alone in your concerns. Buying a home is an extremely emotionally and mentally taxing process. However, with the right amount of preparation and knowledge going into your home-buying journey, you can relieve a large amount of stress.

We’ve compiled the 5 best, most helpful tips for first-time homebuyers which will help you navigate the process, save money, and close the deal like a pro.


Analyze your finances

Before you set off on the journey of purchasing your first home, you must determine if you are truly ready financially for it. There are many costs to factor into homeownership like home repairs, utility costs, garbage pickup, water, and electricity that many first-time homebuyers forget about.

Additionally, you will also be responsible for taxes and insurance related to your new home. This is not meant to scare you away from purchasing, but rather to prepare you for the laundry list of charges that unfortunately come with the gig. If you are not financially prepared, you could end up in a less-than-ideal position.

Try to reduce your debts as much as possible before applying for your mortgage loan and dedicate a few months or years to saving your money for the large costs associated with home buying.

In general, the costs you will need to consider when saving for a home are:

  • The Down Payment
  • Closing Costs
  • Moving Expenses

Once you are satisfied with the state of your finances and are comfortable with the charges you will be paying, you’ll be ready to move on to the fun stuff!


Meet with a loan officer to get started on a mortgage

In the majority of cases, people need a mortgage loan to make a home purchase. Mortgages come in many shapes and sizes and are designed to fit nearly all individual situations. However, the variety of options can make it difficult to determine which loan product will best fit your needs on your own.

This is where loan officers become mortgage life savers. They will assist you in choosing which loan product that is right for your unique situation and applying for it. Loan officers are also the primary contact with the financial institution throughout the loan closing process and are typically very experienced in serving first-time homebuyers.

At Southern Trust Mortgage, our highly skilled loan officers strive to make every home purchase a simple and positive one and to keep you focused and on track during your first-time home buying journey. It is important that whichever loan officer you choose makes you feel comfortable and supported throughout the mortgage process.


Find a good real estate agent

First and foremost, don’t make the mistake of hiring a real estate agent before speaking to your loan officer. You’ll want to go into the home-shopping process with a pre-approval letter at the very least. This document provides you with the maximum amount you can afford and will help show sellers and real estate agents that you are serious and committed to the process.

So, you have your pre-approval letter in hand. What next?

Before selecting a real estate agent, ask friends and family members if they know anyone that they would recommend from past experiences. Being a first-time homebuyer, you’ll want to know that your agent can fit your needs and has experience helping people like you.

You should also keep an eye out for a real estate agent who is a Realtor with a capital R. This means they are a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and have formally agreed to abide by the group’s code of ethics.

Feel free to meet with several different real estate agents to interview them and get a sense of their style and experience. You may also request references and call past clients to confirm that your agent is legit.

Also, real estate agent costs and fees are often embedded into the price of the home, so their compensation comes in the form of a commission taken off the top of the proceeds from the sale. This means you won’t have to shell out any extra cash for their services!


Request a home inspection

So, you found a property that you are serious about. You make an offer on it and it’s accepted! In all the excitement, you may be tempted to consider whether a home inspection is worth the extra money. The short answer? It absolutely is.

Repeat after me: “you should always get a home inspection before purchasing a new home.” Many first-time homebuyers take for granted the importance of a thorough home inspection. We admit this part of the home-buying process is not very exciting, but it is very important. Most lenders won’t even offer financing without an inspection, so it is in your best interest if you are serious about a property.

A home inspection is usually conducted by a licensed professional and reports back on the status of the home’s major systems, utilities, and cosmetic issues. Your home inspector will let you know about any major and minor problems with the home, and also uncover potentially life-threatening problems like mold or faulty wiring.

As a rule of thumb, most potential buyers have a seven-day window after a home inspection to walk away from the purchase.

As we have discussed, a lot goes into buying your first home, and it is crucial to make sure that the home you’re buying is in good condition before you close. That way there won’t be any unpleasant surprises after you move in.


Make sure to have physical copies of important documents

In the age of technology and online storage options, having your important documents printed out might seem a bit primitive. However, it is always smart to have the hard copies of your mortgage statements, deed, Closing Disclosure, and other documents stored in a locked, safe place.

You should also inform anyone else on your mortgage or your next of kin where the documents are in the case of an emergency.


Final Notes

Although it is a lot to take in, if you do your research and go into the home buying process prepared, you’ll be well equipped to make your first home purchase a success. Being a first-time homebuyer is an exciting stage in life. Enjoy it!

If you’re shopping for your first home, explore your options with one of our experienced Southern Trust Mortgage loan officers today! We’re here to help you make home happen.