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First Time Homebuyers: Filtering out the Noise

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Landing the right property in our current market is tricky. Homes are staying on the market for a very short amount of time. In most cases listings are under contract within a day or two and for very desirable properties, time on the market is down to hours.

To secure a property that matches your wish list, or at least checks most of the boxes, buyers need to be prepared to act fast. It is important to layout your strategy ahead of time which is something I love helping buyers, sellers, and investors do.

It is especially rewarding to be part of a first real estate purchase which can seem daunting. There can be a lot of anxiety associated with entering the real estate market for the first time which is one of the barriers to beginning the process. While the process can be complicated, it is often fear of the unknown that is most challenging.

A reliable and knowledgeable real estate agent will take the necessary time to walk you through each step and assess any challenges you might encounter. For each potential challenge, your real estate agent should be armed with various solutions which helps to filter out the noise.

Hiring an agent

To hire an agent that matches your need, I recommend approaching it as a job interview. Here are some questions I recommend you ask in the interview:

  • What sets you apart from other real estate agents in this market?
  • Will you connect me with other reliable professionals such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors, and title companies?
  • What do you see as potential challenges for my specific situation?
  • Can you explain your strategic steps for finding properties to match my specifications?
  • Can I review your professional references?

If the answers satisfy your expectations, then you have likely found your agent and will be on the path to finding your dream home.

Understanding your financing prospects

There is a special program for first time homebuyers through Idaho Housing and Finance Association. Program features include competitive interest rates, down payment and closing cost assistance, potential reduced mortgage insurance, and tax credit programs. Additionally, the program has income, purchase price, and credit score requirements. This program is intended to make the first purchase more accessible for buyers and it’s worth your time to consider whether it is a good match for you.

Savvy shoppers snag better properties

Like other major purchases there are a few savvy shopper tips that apply to buying your first home. Here is my savvy shopper list:

  1. Coddle your credit score. High on the priority list for first time homebuyers is a healthy credit score. Credit score requirements vary based on the type of loan you are applying for. Conventional loans require a minimum of 620 to qualify. However, VA, FHA, and USDA loans may approve scores below 620. When a real estate purchase is in the near term, it is important to make sure you are paying bills on time and not financing other large purchases like cars or appliances. Taking out new credit cards during this time is ill-advised as well. Each of these things can affect your credit score.
  2. Make your shopping list. Take the time research what you want in your home. From the size, amenities, age, condition, and location, it will narrow the search for a suitable property. Location is everything, so start there. Identify the neighborhoods you would like to live in. This might influence the size, age, condition, and other features in your price range.
  3. Don’t get caught up in the moment. In our fast-paced market, it is easy to fall in love with the first home you see or float an offer that is not reasonable under current trends. Take the time to think it through and consult with your trusted circle and your real estate agent.

This is a long-term commitment. Homes do not come with gift receipts to be returned after 30 days. Make sure you understand what you are buying, and it is what you want but more importantly, what you need.

If you are considering your first real estate purchase, please connect with me through my website or on social. I am available for general questions or to map out a plan to move you closer to your first home purchase. Let’s talk!

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