By Barbara Pronin
Buying your first home is exciting and rewarding, and a tribute to your financial planning. But since your home is likely to be your largest investment, you need to be sure when the keys are handed over that you’ve chosen the right house.
Career homebuilder and consumer advocate Bob Vila advises first-time buyers to consider these issues before signing on the dotted line:
Know what’s really important. Seeing a super-charming home can make it hard not to lead with your heart. Before you start shopping, have a clear idea as to what’s most important to you. Specific school district? A short drive to work? Garage big enough for a workshop? Take your time and try not to fall in love with a home that falls short of what you need.
Check out the neighborhood. You want to love where you’re living as much as you love your house, so even if you think you’ve found the home you want, find out what you can about the neighborhood. Do the surrounding homes look neat and well-tended? How far are the nearest stores? You can even check with local law enforcement to learn about local crime rates.
Know your DIY limits. Unless you can be your own handyman, be leery about a home that needs too much TLC. Paying others to bring the home up to your standards can put a big crimp in your budget.
Consider all your costs. Besides knowing what your monthly mortgage payment will be, know how much you’ll be paying for property taxes, utilities and homeowners insurance. Once you’ve determined these costs, budget extra money for maintenance and repairs and any furnishings you need.
Count on your buyer’s agent. Your agent’s job is to protect your interests throughout the real estate process. Your agent will handle details like scheduling surveys and inspections, work with your lender and the seller’s agent to solve any problems that may arise and help you find the dream home you want while staying within that all-important budget.