Purchasing a home is one of the most exciting experiences in life. On the downside, many first-time homebuyers make mistakes that can ultimately prevent them from achieving their homeownership dreams.
To help you breeze through the home-buying process, we’ve put together a first home checklist that presents all the essentials a first-time homebuyer should know.
Determine How Much House You Can Afford
Using an online mortgage calculator is a good idea to estimate the mortgage amount that fits your financial situation. But the best way to find out exactly how much home you can comfortably afford is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting a pre-approved mortgage can also ensure that the seller will take your offer seriously and lower the chance of having your loan application rejected when you find a home you want to purchase.
Another point that should be included in a first home checklist is the down payment. Not only is a down payment required when taking out a conventional mortgage; putting down at least 20% of the home’s value can also help you avoid paying PMI and get a smaller mortgage loan, which will translate into lower monthly payments.
Also, you should consider additional expenses, such as a home inspection or appraisal fees, closing costs, any deposit required up-front, property taxes, homeowners and title insurance, HOA or CDD fees, and any repairs and maintenance needed.
Choose the Location and Decide What Type of Home You Want
One of the greatest things about moving to North Florida is that you can find a wide variety of housing alternatives, including condos in the heart of beautiful cities, homes near the First Coast and properties located in secluded communities with access to picturesque lakes and wooded areas.
But before you start house hunting, it’s vital to prioritize what you want and decide what trade-offs you’re willing to make. For instance, what’s most important to you and your family? An open floor plan? A big backyard? A quiet neighborhood? Or proximity to work and schools? Once you answer these questions, one more item on your first home checklist should be to determine the right size and type of home for your family.
Start Visiting Open Houses
Viewing property records online isn’t enough to find the perfect home for your family. Although time consuming, visiting open houses is a fundamental part of a first home checklist because it can give you an idea of what homes are in your price range.
After finding your dream home and making an offer on it, make sure you hire a qualified home inspector and request a detailed report. This will give you the opportunity to find out if there’s something wrong with the house before the closing. The same goes for the title. By hiring a title insurance company, you can find out if there are any unknown title problems that might put your investment at risk in the future.
Perform a Final Walk-Through
Inspecting the home in the seller’s presence a few days before settlement can help you ensure that everything is in working condition. To avoid unpleasant surprises, check all the appliances, faucets, toilets, showers, electrical outlets, light fixtures, switches, smoke detectors, heat and air-conditioning systems. If you find anything broken or missing, you can require a credit at the closing to cover the cost of repairs and/or replacements.
That’s about it. Since buying your first home can be an overwhelming experience, using our first home checklist is a surefire way to avoid costly mistakes and shop for your dream home with confidence. Happy home buying!