Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying Your First Home

Written by | Updated January 17, 2014

Just like getting your driver’s license or getting your first apartment, buying your first home is a major milestone. You may be tired of writing monthly rent checks, making you all the more eager to sign the dotted line, but don’t like this rush your decision to make such a big purchase. You want to ensure everything is right for you, from being a secure investment to something that is in the cards for you right now.

There’s a lot to consider, so we’re here to help. Here are five things you want to make sure you think about when it comes time to buy your first home.

1. Financial Situation

Buying a house is exciting, but your bank account might not be as eager as you are. Know how much of your savings you are willing to spend before you get in over your head. Begin by grounding yourself in reality and determine the “true costs.”

When it comes time to look for a home, it is wise to hire a realtor and incur the fees that come with them. Not only do they know which homes are available in your price range, but they can also help you with the contracts and legalities.

Once you’ve purchased the home, you’ll have more costs you didn’t have when renting, some of which could include HOA fees, property taxes, and private mortgage insurance, as well as any home maintenance costs that come up unexpectedly.

To purchase your home, you may also be considering a mortgage loan. Remember, banks will often be willing to lend you more than you can afford, so make sure you stay true to your budget. Match the payments you will be making to your income and you’ll avoid drowning in debt or possibly losing your home.

2. Location

Where your home is located may be more important than the home itself. Whether you want to live in a quiet suburb or a bustling city, deciding where to live is key to being a happy homeowner.

Talk with those who live nearby and get their opinion of the area. Find out the base home values where you’re looking—what’s the starting price for most houses? If you have school age children you should put major emphasis on the quality of the school they will be attending. You’ll also want to establish what the commute to your office is and if it fits your lifestyle.

3. Security

Your home should be a safe haven for your family. Once you’ve established the safety of the area, one of the first things you’ll want to do is take your security one step further by installing a monitored security system in your new home. This not only helps you protect your new investment and all that is inside it, but it also provides you with peace of mind.

Each home is unique, just like your lifestyle, so find a security system that matches your needs with the SafeWise security system finder tool. Companies can provide you with a wide range of surveillance and control over your home when you’re away, such as video surveillance and home automation.

4. Layout

While shark tanks, turntable driveways, and gold sinks might sound appealing in theory, they might not be right for you.  Make sure you find a house that accommodates your lifestyle. For example, if you have young children, would you be able to childproof the home? If you’re newlyweds, would you prefer a large kitchen or a spacious living room?

You may find a house that meets your requirements but needs some renovation. Don’t be afraid to take the challenge if that interests you, but consider the financial and time investments that come with it.

5. Structure

No one wants to share their house with insects or wake up to a leaky ceiling. If you’re buying a house that is already built, make sure it is in good condition before you make an investment you’ll later regret.

Don’t trust your own judgment; hire a reputable inspector who can check the house for you. Most banks won’t even give you a loan until an inspector has checked your house. Inspectors will ensure your house is equipped with durable flooring, a solid foundation, quality windows, and a sturdy roof. You may need to get specialized inspectors to check for pests (like termites) or to examine the quality of a pool.

There is a lot to think about when you’re buying your first home. Use this guide to help you in ensuring your investment is a good one.

What other tips do you have for first time home buyers?

Written by Hillary Johnston

A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more

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