Shopping for your first home can be an emotional roller coaster – the highs of visiting potential houses and new neighborhoods and picturing yourself living there; and the lows of finding the perfect place only to realize that it just isn’t in your budget. We’ve put together our top five tips to keep in mind on your home buying adventure that will help you make a wiser choice!
1. Make sure it’s really in your budget
Before you even start looking at homes, it’s important that you get a clear idea of your budget. This means checking with your bank what you qualify for in terms of a home loan or mortgage, and getting preapproved if this is the custom in your country. How much they’re willing to lend you hangs off of multiple factors, like how long you’ve been at your current job, what down payment you can make, etc.
Sometimes it’s only through this process that you find out there are issues lurking in your credit history that need to be dealt with before you can move forward. If you already have existing debts, then going through a debt consolidation process is an excellent idea before you take on any additional responsibilities.
Remember that it’s not just as easy as adding you and your partner’s rent together to come up with a figure! Your own home is certainly an asset, but it comes with expenses that you just didn’t have when you were renting. Repairs and maintenance are now going to be your responsibility, as well as all relevant rates and taxes, levies and the like. You need a decent safety margin of disposable income over and above your monthly mortgage.
2. Find a good real estate agent
There’s no substitute for an agent that has years of experience in an area. They’ll be able to advise you on better options and give you honest feedback when you need it. Chances are they’ve dealt with plenty of people in a similar financial situation and with similar needs to yours, and they’ve had time and experience to learn from the mistakes and triumphs of others too!
3. Don’t be in a rush to buy
Sometimes the best decision is not buying – at least yet. If you just can’t afford a home that suits your needs, then it’s a good idea to take more time to save for a bigger down payment or consider other locations. Setting yourself up to struggle financially for the next decade sometimes just isn’t worth it.
Use your experience with the property market to your advantage in the meantime, and start living as if you had a monthly mortgage to pay. It will give you a better idea of what you can really afford – and get you in the habit of saving money too!
4. Be aware of your long term goals
Buying a home is a long term commitment – so you need to consider what you’re going to need 10 or 15 years from now too. Are you planning on starting a family or having more children? If so, are there enough rooms and good schools in the area? Might you need room for your parents one day? If you’re single, are you looking for an investment property or just somewhere close to work?
Of course it’s impossible to predict what the future holds for sure, but the more in-line with your plans a home is, the better prepared you should be.
5. The occupation-ready home versus the fixer-upper
While the fixer-upper home is a big temptation for a young couple, you need to be honest about the amount of time and money you can put into it, especially if you and your partner are both holding down demanding jobs. Upgrades and refurbishments come with hefty price tags, and repairs almost always end up taking more time and money than you expect. This can put an enormous strain on a relationship and make your home more of a burden than a comfort. It might really be worth considering a slightly more expensive property that’s ready to go, with good lighting, quality finishes and a low maintenance garden too!
On the flip-side, if one partner can possibly work from home and dedicate time to the project, a previously neglected property can be turned into a real gem! One great option if you can’t afford a home with the number of rooms you’d ideally like is to buy a property with a larger yard that you can make an extension into. It’s a really good idea to watch some home design TV shows to give you an idea of what actually goes into renovations before you sign up though!
We hope you’ve found our top five tips helpful! Remember that buying a home is one of those life-defining decisions – take the time to make it wisely!
January 10, 2018