I’ve found that one of the biggest hurdles first time buyers or purchasers in general face is the idea of *regret* or having cold feet. Are you making the right decision? Is this the property for you? Are you sure you are ready for this commitment? Will something better come on the market? What if you need to move next year? So many questions. While I don’t have the exact answer to these questions, I have complied a list of ‘regret-proof’ steps to help you be confident in the purchase of your first or next home.
Step 1: Talk to your Lender
If you’re getting a loan, this is a very crucial first step. While I know everyone loves a little online house shopping, if you are planning to purchase you need to get serious about your budget & understand your limits. Your lender will work with you on a pre-approval, discuss loan options & programs, & establish an ideal monthly payment that makes sense for you, your lifestyle, & your comfort level.
Step 2: Understand Unexpected Costs
The biggest regret I see buyers have is not understanding the unexpected costs & general costs of home ownership. While it’s easy to say owning > renting because your $2000/mo can go towards your mortgage & equity!! BUT, trading your monthly rent towards your mortgage doesn’t always translate that cleanly. You need to take into account HOA fees, taxes, PMI, etc. While your Realtor & lender will calculate & work within those limits, don’t forget about the cost of homeownership. I usually tell my clients to budget 1-3% of their home purchase on yearly maintenance. That may be a conservative number, but you need to be prepared to make necessary repairs when/if they are needed.
Step 3: Don’t Max Out your Pre-approved Limit
You are pre-approved up to $750,000 – Congratulations!! People can often ‘afford’ much more house than they should comfortably be spending. A common theme I see with first time buyers is maxing out their limits & becoming house poor. Meaning they save & save for the down payment to afford the dream condo or single family home, but upon closing can’t afford to furnish it, sacrifice their gym membership, or give up the next few family vacations. While the pride of homeownership is an amazing feeling, don’t over extend you or your budget beyond your comfortability.
Step 4: Work Backwards Towards your Home Budget
Home buying can get emotional quickly, but don’t let it. Be dedicated to your budget by understanding your limits, your income, your current obligations, & honor whatever current/upcoming debt you may have. While your pre-approval is great, I always recommend my client be painstakingly pragmatic when home shopping. Don’t get me wrong, if you are looking for a dream house with no budget, I am more than happy to assist 😉
Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it. – George Halas