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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.
For first-time homebuyers, the whole homebuying process may look a bit daunting. You’re going into what could be the biggest purchase of your life with no experience to fall back on.
The good news is a little preparation can go a long way and help you approach this major decision with confidence.
Here are several tips for buying your first house.
1. Make sure you’re ready to buy, both emotionally and financially
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If you expect to relocate in a few years, this may not be the right time for you to buy a home. If you don’t have cash for a down payment, closing costs and other expenses, you may be better off waiting.
Look at your life, your career, your finances and your future expectations, and determine whether buying a house is the right move at this time.
2. Find the right real estate agent
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The difference between deals that close and deals that don’t are the professionals involved. If you’re a buyer, there is no reason not to use a real estate agent. It costs you little or nothing, and the agent’s job goes far beyond finding the house.
Your choice of agent partly depends on where you want to live, because a neighborhood expert often can find you the best house at the best price. “You want people who have worked and have experience directly in the areas you’re looking in,” says Mia Simon, a Redfin agent in Palo Alto, California. You also want a real estate agent who will move quickly when a new listing goes on the market.
However, it’s after you’ve found the house that you’ll most need the agent, both to structure and present the offer and then to troubleshoot issues that arise between contract and closing. A good agent will advise you honestly and help you craft an offer that will be accepted.
3. Get your finances in order first
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Some real estate agents won’t even show homes to prospective clients who don’t have a mortgage preapproval. You definitely should meet with a mortgage broker or banker (better yet, several) at the start of the process to find out how much house you can afford and how much cash you’ll need to close.
Do all the math. Just because a bank says you can borrow $200,000 doesn’t mean you should. If you have credit issues, realize that this …….