If you are renting and your landlord tells you they are going to raise your rent, you may be thinking that it is now time to say goodbye to the landlord and start looking for your first home!
Buying that first home can be really exciting - there is nothing like that feeling when you finally get to closing, sign the papers and get the key! But buying your first home can also be stressful - and in 2022, you may feel that it is even more stressful because of everything you hear on the news!
So if you are thinking that this is the time to begin the process of buying your first home, there are some things you may want to think about before beginning the process! As a Realtor who has worked with a lot of first time homebuyers over the years, I understand how exciting and stressful at the same time it can be! So here are some things to think about as you embark on this journey!
IS IT TIME TO BUY YOUR FIRST HOME? This is a question that only you and your family can decide! The real estate market in 2022 has been hot and there are lots of bidding wars going on! It is tough and a first time homebuyer may need to be a bit creative and compromising in order to get the house they want. Interest rates are now higher than they were even 6 months ago and the prices of the houses keep rising! Inventory levels are tight! So you need to decide if you are ready to jump into the fray or not! And with homeownership comes more responsibilities - as a renter, your landlord takes care of a lot of things that you as a homeowner will now be responsible for!
DO THE MATH! You will definitely need to talk to a lender to see what you can afford to buy, based on your income, credit and debt! But it is possible that your lender may approve you for much more than you are willing to spend each month on a mortgage payment. Add to the monthly mortgage payment things like an HOA fee, utilities, maintenance fees and more! In addition to the monthly costs you may incur, you may also need to have some cash - the down payment, your closing costs to buy the house, paying for inspections, moving costs, etc! Make sure you are comfortable with the upfront costs of getting a home, moving into the home, outfitting the home and taking care of the monthly costs of owning the home!
KNOW YOUR PRIORITIES! When you decide it is time to buy that first home, you are going to want to make a needs and wants list! This list helps you design your ideal home - one that you would buy if you had an unlimited amount of cash! Unfortunately, reality is probably such that you don't have unlimited funds to build that dream home! So now take that list and prioritize it into what you absolutely need to have and what you want to have (ex: you need 3 bedrooms, but want 4 bedrooms)! After all, you don't want to waste your time looking at a house that won't meet you absolute must haves!
GET A GREAT REALTOR! This is a market where houses are selling fast! You want a Realtor who works with first time homebuyers, know the areas you want to look in, can refer you to great service providers such as lenders and inspectors, can assist you in writing the offer and give you great advice along the way! You also want to make sure that they are available to get you into houses quickly when they hit the market and will give you honest advice on the houses you are looking at!
DON'T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER! Some people have great taste in decor, some don't! Some homes you go into may look like my grandmother's house, some may wow you with the staging the seller has done! Don't make a decision based solely on the decor you see - after all, the furnishings will be gone when you close on the house! If you don't like the carpet or you don't like the paint choices - those are easy cosmetic fixes you can do after closing to make it yours! What you want is a house in the location you want with good bones! Have an open mind and that may get you the house you want!
GET THE HOME INSPECTED! I know that in the 2022 real estate market, many people are giving up on the home inspection! It is not something I recommend, but many buyers are doing this! If you don't want to give up on the inspections, perhaps you can let the seller know that you are going to do an inspection but you won't ask for repairs under a certain repair cost (say $500 or $1,000). There are many ways to tweak this contingency to let the seller know you want the inspection but you are not going to nit pick them on the house!
REMEMBER RESALE! Most likely you will not be in this house for the rest of your life (although there are some buyers I have worked with that are still in the same house they bought 25 years ago). But keep in mind that most likely you will be selling the house at some point down the road! If backing to I-95 is an issue for you, then it could be an issue for a future buyer!
CAN YOU ADD VALUE TO THE HOUSE! If the house you are looking at is in the location you want, has great bones, meets all of your other needs, you can also see if there is a way to add value to the house in the future! Perhaps it does not have central air - adding that will definitely add value to the house! Perhaps the baths and kitchen are dated but you can live with them for now - renovating them in the future could add value! Perhaps the house has no deck - adding the deck could add value to the house!
TAKE YOUR TIME! With the real estate market in Richmond in 2022 having been so frenzied, it is sometimes hard not to get caught up in the frenzied atmosphere! But you need to feel comfortable about the house you will ultimately buy so sometimes it may help to take a step or two back! Don't rush into things if the house doesn't feel like it is the one for you! The right one will be there when you are ready!
CHECK OUT THE NEIGHBORHOODS! One of the most wonderful things about Richmond are the neighborhoods you find throughout the area - whether it is in the county or in the city! Be open to a variety of neighborhoods, and do some driving around on weekends when you have some time to see if the neighborhoods are the ones for you. Talk to neighbors and visit them in different times of the day! If crime is a concern, talk to the local police department! Buying a home in 2022 means that you probably have to make a decision quickly - do some of your due diligence before you even begin looking for a house so that you are comfortable with not only the house you are buying but also the neighborhood you are buying into!
With decisions having to be made quickly in the 2022 real estate market, being ready to buy is half the battle! Taking time to get ready before you start will help you feel comfortable with the decision you make!
If you are thinking of buying your first home and want to sit down and talk, feel free to let me know and I would be happy to set up a time to talk!