Cracking The Code To First Time Home Buying In Texas

Dated: October 20 2014

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Entering the real estate market for the first time can be daunting, but exciting. After months of looking at properties online, figuring out what areas are most desirable, checking on finances, etc, it can be hard to know where to start. While it is tough to figure out what is most important, considering these 10 items can provide you with focus and clarity as you get ready to start looking! Get professional help. This is truly crucial! Real estate agents and brokers know their markets, and can help you narrow in on what you are really looking for. Make sure the agent you choose is one you feel comfortable with, as this person will be with you from the beginning to the end. The best way is to ask your friends and co-workers for a referral, that way you know they have been tried and tested.
First time home buyer programs are out there. Many states offer their own programs, often assisting with mortgage rates and down payments. You might be surprised to find what is out there. Again, another reason to find a local real estate agent, as they have most likely gone through this scenario with previous clients.

Figure out what you can really afford. Yes, your mortgage payment might be lower than your current rent. However, you will also need to pay for taxes and insurance, not to mention most likely higher utility bills. Owning a home also comes with continued maintenance, which you will want to keep in mind. Moving to a much bigger space? Remember that you will want to fill the space with furniture, which can also add up. Play it safe and make sure your budget is appropriate; keep in mind that rainy day fund and savings account.

Pre-Qualification vs Pre-Approval. It is important to understand their differences. When you are pre-qualified by a lender, they will do a quick and simple look at your finances and credit and give you a ballpark figure of what you might be approved for. Pre-qual does not necessarily mean you are ready to make offers, but it is the first step in securing your financing. When pre-approved, the lender will actually offer you a mortgage rate and then lock it in. You will most likely go through an extensive financial background check and fill out a home loan application. Once you are fully “vetted” by the bank, then you will have secured pre-approval!

Shop around for your mortgage. I tell this to my clients time and time again; a mortgage is something you purchase. There are lots of different types of mortgages, and different lenders will offer different services. It is a good idea to pick 3 different lenders and see what they will offer you. The variation between servicers in this industry might surprise you. As always, you can ask your real estate for referrals or advice on how to go about picking lenders.

See the house for what it is. Emotions can run high, especially during the first purchase, and it can be hard to look past the “ugly” or see passed the pretty flowers and decor. Pay attention to the layout and the community, as these are two things that you can’t usually change. Remind yourself of what is important and why you are purchasing a home, as this can keep you from making a decision based purely off of emotion.

Have the home inspected. This is absolutely crucial! You will learn about the details of the home and rule out any major issues in the structural, electrical and plumbing systems. If you suspect something might be wrong, it is best to employ an industry expert to inspect the specific issue directly. While all the inspections are costly, they are well worth it. You do not want to move into a home and find out after the fact that the foundation needs $5000 worth of repairs.

Have a plan B. As with most real estate deals, negotiations are par for the course. There are many things that can affect your deal, so it is best to have thought out a course of action should things head south. You may have to put in several offers before one finally takes. Stay patient, keep focused on your goal, and you will get there. Most things in life that we value require work, so don’t get discouraged when things don’t go exactly as planned. 

Attitude is key! I’ve worked with a variety of first time home buyers, and I have to say the ones that have kept their attitudes in check are the ones with the least amount of stress affecting them. Always try to remember to be thankful for the opportunity to buy, and when things get stressful, take the time to walk away and clear your head. Staying positive and upbeat will keep your energy level up and your spirits high.

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