Making the decision to buy a home is an exciting one, but it can be daunting to dip your toes into the home purchase waters, particularly if you’ve been used to renting as a way of life. And while the process of buying a home isn’t always the easiest to understand (lots of acronyms, lingo and terminology to learn!), the experience is usually pretty straightforward. Luckily, whether you choose to work with a real estate agent, or deal directly with a new home builder, there will be plenty of experienced people on hand to help you navigate home buying, with as little trouble as possible.
As you get started, though, here are some key do’s and don’ts for any prospective homebuyer, which will make the whole experience that much smoother.
DO a financial check-up. While you may be focused on which community or floorplan is right for you, making sure that you’re financially prepared to buy a home is a huge component of having your purchase go off without a hitch. This includes checking your credit reports for any errors or mistakes that may negatively affect your FICO credit score—a prime factor in the amount of interest you will be required to pay on your loan. The better the credit score, the better the interest rate you’ll obtain, so it’s important to make sure you’re putting your best credit foot forward when it comes to prospective lenders.
DON’T despair. If, when you review your credit, you find some dings and dents, or realize your bank accounts aren’t as flush as you had hoped, all is not lost! Many lenders and even home builders offer programs that can help those with less-than-perfect scores or minimal cash buy their very own new home. LGI Homes, as an example, offers both credit counseling and purchase programs that team buyers up with specialized consultants. After assessing the situation and discussing options, these consultants can recommend targeted programs that can make the dream of homeownership come true—such as our exclusive No Money Down purchase option, which spares cash reserves and expands buying power.
DO keep your needs—both present and future—in mind as you shop for homes. Changes in your household size (the birth of children, kids leaving for college, an aging parent moving in) can affect the long-term suitability of your home when it comes to your needs. While all of life’s twists and turns can never be known, it does help to peer a bit into the future to see if you can predict any significant changes coming down the lane.
DON’T get hung up on particular numbers or locations. Buyers—particularly first-time buyers—tend to get fixated on details that un-necessarily limit them in their search for a home. Insisting, for instance, on a minimum 1,800 square feet may cause a buyer to miss out on the perfect 1,700 square foot home—all for just 100 square feet that most likely won’t ever be missed. Keep your options and your mind open when you start looking for a home. It can sometimes take a number of visits to homes in different communities to be able to start weighing your true preferences and needs, and stop dictating your home search by arbitrary limitations.
DO have fun. Buying a home is a big decision, and it can certainly be stressful. But, it is also a life-changing event that should be savored. The fun of imagining your family and future in the context of a new home is part of what makes homebuying enjoyable. Don’t let anxieties about the process bog you down! As a wise real estate professional once said, every home has something to teach, and every buyer has something to learn. So set fears aside and open yourself up to what every home is telling you. Chances are, you’re going to like what you hear!