Los Angeles Times



Buying a home for the first time can be exciting. But there are a lot of new processes you’ll experience and people you’ll need to work with, too. Here are 10 first-time homebuyer tips.

1. Identify your needs

Are you willing to travel farther for work if it means buying a home in a specific neighborho­od? Does a townhouse or condo make more sense than a single-family home? Take the time to consider your current needs and what your needs may be in the future. Having a clear understand­ing of your housing needs helps you identify the most important things to look for when viewing homes.

2. Know the true cost of your new home

Make sure you know what your new home will really cost. In addition to your mortgage payment, you also need to add in property taxes and homeowner’s insurance as well as the cost of home maintenanc­e, such as taking care of the lawn, maintainin­g appliances, unplanned repairs and any Homeowners Associatio­n fees if applicable. Don’t forget utility costs like electricit­y, gas, water and sewer.

3. Build your savings now

Don’t wait until you’ve found the house you want to buy — start saving now. Building your savings account now is important because there are many expenses you’ll need to pay for throughout the homebuying process, including deposits, home inspection­s, appraisals, down payments and closing costs.

4. Build your credit wisely

When you’re preparing to buy a home, you need to be smart with your credit. Lenders use your credit score as a key factor to determine whether or not to approve you. They also use it to determine the interest rate and loan terms they’ll approve you for.

5. Research your mortgage loan options

While many people think a convention­al loan is their only option for buying a house, there are others such as FHA loans and VA loans. Lenders also offer fixed-rate and adjustable-rate (ARM) mortgages. Each option has its pros and cons.

6. Know what you qualify for before you begin shopping can

You get prequalifi­ed for a home loan with a simple conversati­on with your mortgage lender about your income, credit, employment and asset informatio­n. Getting prequalifi­ed can help narrow your search because you’ll already know how much you can finance.

7. You don’t have to do this alone

Hiring a real estate agent means you don’t have to go through the homebuying process alone. Choosing an experience­d agent helps ensure they’ll work in your best interest when finding homes and negotiatin­g purchasing terms.

8. Make the decision in your own time

It’s okay to take your time to understand how everything works. Make sure you’re well-informed and know what your options are and carefully think things through before you make any decisions.

9. You don’t have to pay the seller’s asking price

You don’t have to make an offer for the full asking price on the home you want to buy. Ask your agent to help you make a competitiv­e offer that’s within your budget and reflective of the home’s value.

10. Prepare for closing

Once the seller accepts your offer, there’s still a lot to be done before you close, like the home appraisal, completing a home inspection, doing a final walk-through and completing paperwork related to your loan.

There’s a lot to keep in mind when buying a home, but it’s all worth it in the end. Knowing what the process involves, and how to handle whatever comes up, is a great way to arm yourself for this exciting journey.

 ?? Photo courtesy of Chase ??
Photo courtesy of Chase

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