Buying Your First Home-
The Ultimate Guide
Do you love to watch house buying shows from your apartment living room? Do you spend your spare time browsing through home decor websites wishing you could make those changes to your room? Do you imagine the barbecues you’d host if you had your own backyard? If so, it’s time to start considering buying your first home.
The home buying process is exciting, but it also has its share of pitfalls. Planning ahead will ensure that buying your first home only brings happy surprises for you and your family. To help you with the process, we have pulled together some things to keep in mind when buying your first home.
What Do I Need to Buy My First Home?
Before buying your first home you need to take a good look at your financial picture in order to ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal. Since your interest rate and monthly payment will be driven by your current finances, you need to ensure that you’re creating the best possible circumstances for a successful home purchase.
The mortgage you’ll qualify for is determined in large part by your current financial picture, so it’s important to have your ducks in row when it comes to your financial health. Here are the things you’ll need to focus on as you start putting together your home financing plan (and if you need to brush up on it, here is a helpful guide to common mortgage terminology.)
The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you’ll qualify for. Since credit scores can be driven by a variety of factors -- including outstanding debt, on-time bill payments, and other elements -- it’s important to make sure you have a favorable credit score.
If you haven’t already done so, order a copy of your credit report and ensure that there are no mistakes. If you see that you some outstanding debt you can pay off, go ahead and do so in the months before you apply for your mortgage. It takes a little while for your score to rebound, so you’ll want to give yourself enough time for improvements to register.
The more money you have to put down on your purchase, the less you’ll have to finance and, ultimately, that means less money spent on interest payments. While many traditional conventional loans require large down payments, you can find other loan options that require 3.5 to 5% down or even less. However, many of these low-down payment options require you to carry mortgage insurance, a monthly cost you can avoid with a more substantial down payment.
At closing, you’ll have to pay several thousands of dollars in closing costs. These involve expenses like title searches and insurance, appraisal fees, property taxes, and other charges. Don’t forget when you are calculating your down payment to leave out enough money to cover these costs at the end of the process.
You have a big down payment, you’ve calculated your closing costs, so now you’re ready to move, right? Maybe not. Remember, you may have expenses associated with moving out of your current apartment or rental home, especially if you are ending your lease early. You’ll need to pay moving expenses, including boxes and packing materials for do-it-yourself moves. You’ll also need to put down deposits for some of your utilities.
Aside from what it takes to move and set up your new home, your lifestyle may change when you buy your first home. You may need to buy lawn equipment for the first time or you may need more furniture in order to fill that spacious new home. You may want to add fencing for your pets or a playground for the children. You may even find yourself entertaining and hosting friends and family more than you have in the past. All of these changes bring additional expenses that you’ll need to account for.
What to Look for in My First House?
As you get ready to purchase your first house, you will also want to consider what sorts of features you “need to” have versus those you might “like to” have before starting your search. While there are a lot of tools out there to help you determine the steps you need to buy a home, here are some high-level things to keep in mind.
Start By Thinking Ahead
You may be buying your first home for today, but remember, this might be your home tomorrow too. For younger homebuyers, it’s important to think ahead to upcoming shifts in the job market, relocations, and changes in living situations, all which can impact the home you choose to buy today. For example, you might be buying your first home as a single person or with a partner. While you might not currently have kids, it’s important to think about how your first home might be able to handle the addition.
While no one can completely plan for the future, thinking more carefully about unexpected future expenses and long-term planning can mean you end up with a first home that can be your forever home.
Prioritize Your Preferences
If you, like many first-time home buyers, are purchasing later in life, you may be used to more upscale bells and whistles like upgraded appliances, fixtures, and finishes found at your parent’s home or your apartment complex. While it is certainly fine to want these items, it’s important to recognize that some of these features might be worth trading off when purchasing your first home. The most important thing you can do is choose the features that are essential to you before deciding where to put your money.
For example, a smaller home in a prime location may be more meaningful than a larger home with a longer commute. For the foodie, a gourmet kitchen style and oversized pantry may be an essential while for the pet parent a large backyard may be a nonnegotiable feature.
Here are some other things you might want to consider when prioritizing:
• Proximity to local shopping and entertainment
• School District
• Number of Bedrooms & Bathrooms
• Available upgrades like Smart Home technology, granite countertops and more
Don’t Forget the Home Warranty
In order to ensure peace of mind in your new home, a home warranty is a great way to protect you from the unexpected. And with both structural and vendor warranties, you can feel secure in both the condition of the home itself and its systems and appliances.
Whatever your homebuying journey is on the way to buying your first home, you’ll find the tools you need and the home options you want at Pulte. Try out our mortgage calculator and find out how much house you can afford, then find the perfect new home community near you.
Contributed to Your Home blog by Joshlin Grayson
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