Searching for your first home this fall? Desert Schools Federal Credit Union provides seven simple tips to minimize stress and maximize your purchasing power:
1. Become a master of your market
The more properties you view, the better you'll understand pricing trends and value in your area. Online is a great place to start, but make sure to view a lot of properties in person. When you find a property you like and could potentially see yourself living in, make a note of potential problem areas like cracks in the walls, missing roof tiles and water spots in the ceiling. Also make sure to become familiar with the surrounding area -- close proximity to public transportation, shops and grocery stores can increase a property's value.
2. The advice your grandpa gave you is not the gospel
As soon as friends and family find out you're in the market for your first home, you can expect advice of all kinds. Just remember that the market fluctuates and changes regularly -- principles that held true five years ago may not be true now.
3. Hire experienced professionals
Your home inspector is your best friend. Hiring a thoroughly experienced, licensed inspector who is a master of their craft can help pinpoint any issues that could potentially end up becoming costly repairs.
4. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!
Work closely with your agent to gain a good idea of what's fair for the property (you should already have a good idea, because if you're following this article, you've already become a master of your market)!
5. Use your head, not your heart
If your market is hot, it's possible that you may feel rushed to make an offer on a property before someone else snatches it up. If you feel rushed at all, back off. Don't be afraid to walk away from a property you're not ready for, and don't be afraid to walk away from a bad deal. There will be other properties and this will be one of the largest purchases of your life - the terms must be comfortable for you.
6. Yards and pools are work
Almost everyone likes the idea of having a gorgeous yard and a pool, but if you're not home a lot or don't have the extra time to spend maintaining them, the once gorgeous dream may end up being overgrown or covered in algae. You might want to think twice about whether or not you have the time and energy to maintain these luxuries.
7. Buy a property you can afford
No one wants to be house poor, chained to their couch on a weekend and unable to enjoy life because their mortgage is eating the majority of their income. Careful estimation and evaluation of your monthly expenses is essential. Don't borrow what you can qualify for, borrow what you can afford.