As a first time home buyer, you need to maintain a balance between money and lifestyle in a way that makes sense for you and your family. Buying a home comes with great benefits, but also with added responsibilities. Many first home buyers are very apprehensive and fearful of the process of buying a home. They need not be. Although the process is not complex, it includes a myriad of steps that have to be done in the right order to avoid problems. Hiring a Realtor who can recommend the right team of inspectors, attorneys, lenders, surveyors, insurance agents, painters, handymen, etc. will save buyers lots of time and headaches.
I recommend to all my first-home buyer clients that they follow a plan like this one:
- Sit down (with your partner, if you have one) and figure out your short, medium and long term objective
- Apply for a loan (make sure the loan officer checks all your documents) and get a pre-approval letter from a lender so that you know how much house you can comfortably afford. Make sure you can afford the estimated payment (i.e. no big payment shock!)
- HIRE A REALTOR as your BUYER'S AGENT! It amazes me that someone who has never bought a home would feel OK about buying their biggest investment without getting professional help! In SC, hiring a REALTOR to represent you as a buyer is FREE OF CHARGE (the commission is paid for by the seller)
- Establish your home search parameters and share them with your Realtor
- Find the perfect home and negotiate a favorable contract. Make sure it fits your desires and objectives
- Stay actively involved during the due diligence (contract-to-closing) period
- Make sure you provide any information that your lender or insurance company asks for without delay
- Plan your move in advance. Connect utilities in your name as of the closing date
- Ask the attorney how much you need to bring to the closing. Get a cashier's check or wire the money to the attorney
- Attend the closing.
- Enjoy your home!
- Change your driver's license address
- Don't forget to claim the Primary Residence Exemption which lowers your property tax substantially!