5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers
Your first home is one of the most exciting purchases you will ever make. The process of buying a home, however, can be nerve-racking, especially in Austin’s competitive real estate market. With so many fun, funky neighborhoods filled with beautiful homes, it is easy to become overwhelmed by falling in love with homes all over the ATX. Here are some first-time homebuyers tips to keep you focused and calm while shopping for your first home.
- Have a list: Before you even step into your first open house, create a list of nice-to-haves and can’t-live-withouts. How many bedrooms do you want? How many bathrooms? What type of backyard do you want? Print the list out and take it with you to every home. Compare every house you see with the list so you can check off the requirements as you go. Do not be swayed by the fancy shower in a two-bedroom house if a three-bedroom house is on your can’t-live-without list.
- Determine your budget: After you have your list and before you begin searching, use a home affordability calculator to determine how much house you afford. Make sure you are budgeting all the expenses of owning a house such as property tax, home insurance, utilities, HOA fees and the cost of maintaining or upgrading the home. Ask the realtor for an estimated cost of monthly gas and electricity for the area. Once your budget it set, do not go over your limit.
- Consider all your finance options: The state of Texas provides a homeownership program called My First Texas Home Program. It offers some first-time homeowners mortgage loans with a more competitive, fixed and low-interest annual percentage rate. The program can also assist with down payment and closing costs. Potential homebuyers must meet program income guidelines and program purchase price limits, so check with your lender about qualifying for the program.
- Check the foundation: Foundation repair is about the most expensive home repair a homeowner has to make. A bad foundation can cause the house to sink or split apart. It can also damage underground pipes and plumbing. It costs up to $40,000 to replace a foundation, so make sure the home you buy has a good foundation. Thoroughly check the home for diagonal cracks, doors or windows that will not close properly, cracks in ceramic or vinyl tile and uneven flooring.
- Have fun: Yes, buying your first home can be overwhelming, but keep in mind you are shopping for the house of your future. Try not to let the stress take the fun out of the process. Enjoy it!