10 Steps to Buying Your First Home (First Time Home Buyer’s Guide)

Buying your first home can be exciting, but it can also be stressful without a plan. To stay on track and make sure you can make this goal a reality, we’ve outlined some steps to follow that will help you move into that new home in no time. 

Research neighborhoods

If you don’t already have a targeted neighborhood in mind, your first step is to research where you’d like to live. Maybe you are moving to a new city, or thinking about moving from a city to the suburbs — whatever it is, you’ll want to visit and see where you feel most at home. 

Dream

In the beginning of your home search, dreaming about what you want your perfect home to look like can inspire you. Maybe you’d like a big backyard or even a swimming pool. Dreaming is a great place to start.

Know your must-haves

There’s also the other side of thinking about your future home — knowing what you must have. If you are moving for more space, that might include a second bathroom, a home office, or an additional bedroom so your kids don’t have to share. This will help you start to form a picture of your next home.

Set a budget

Now that you know what your dream home looks like, and your must-haves, you can start assessing your budget. In today’s housing market, it’s possible that homes will sell for more than the asking price, and it’s key to remember that the price you see on a home may not be the price that you pay in the end. Generally, it’s a wise idea to spend no more than one-third of your monthly take-home income on your mortgage, so be realistic about how much you can really spend on a home.

Save for a down payment

If buying a home has been on your mind for a while then you have probably started to save for a down payment. Saving can happen over time and you might be surprised that saving some money here and there — such as by eliminating your daily latte habit, cooking at home more, or bringing your lunch to work — can add up to fast savings. Setting a target each month can help you reach your goal faster.

Study the market

There’s no doubt that some times of year are more favorable than others to buy a home. Across much of the United States, the real estate market is experiencing what’s called a sellers’ market where there are more buyers than homes available. In this case, you might need to compete with other buyers depending on where you are looking and how hot the market is. 

Hire a real estate agent

While it’s possible to buy a home without professional help, you will make your life easier if you hire a real estate agent — especially one who is deeply familiar with the market where you want to buy. 

Be patient

Buying a home doesn’t happen overnight. If the process is taking longer than expected, don’t get discouraged. Know that it takes time to find a home and have an offer accepted. Being patient is part of the process.

Declutter your current home

You never know when that dream home might pop up, so being ready to move can help you be prepared when the time comes. As soon as you know that you want to move, start decluttering and purging your home of everything that you aren’t planning to take with you. 

Get your finances in order

As you get closer to buying your home you’ll want to be sure that you have everything ready to present to a seller and your mortgage lender. That might include your financial history, work history, and references. 

Get an inspection

So you finally found that home, but not so fast because even a perfect home could have hidden issues. An inspection will uncover any problems so you don’t have to worry about taking care of them once you’ve already bought the house and it might be too late. 

Buying your first home can be really existing and stressful at the same time. By having a plan and staying focused and positive, you’ll be moving in before you know it.