First-Time Home Buyers
If you are a first-time home buyer, use the guide below for helpful hints and tips and learn how to avoid common mistakes when buying your first home in Washington, DC.
- Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much you can afford to pay for a home.
- Pre-Approval: Knowing how much you can afford is the first step. But, sellers will be much more receptive to potential buyers who have been pre-approved. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This presents you as a serious buyer to sellers and significantly improves your chances of winning in multiple offers.
- How Many Pre-Approval Letters Should I Get?: This is a great question and one that buyers often ask. You only need one letter from a local, reputable lender. When your contract is signed (ratified) then you can shop around to make sure you're getting the best rates.
- List of Needs & Wants: Make 2 lists. The first should include items you must have (i.e., the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family, a one-story house if accessibility is a factor, etc.). The second list is your wishes, things you would like to have (pool, den, etc.) but that are not absolutely necessary. Realistically for first-time buyers, you probably will not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
- Representation by a Professional: Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller.
- Location: Look at a potential property on a variety of factors: school district, crime rate, proximity to positive (shopping, parks, freeway access) and negative (abandoned properties, garbage dump, source of noise) features of the area.
- Visualize the house empty & with your decor: Are the rooms laid out to fit your needs? Is there enough light?
- Be Objective: Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later.
- Be Thorough: A few extra dollars well spent now may save you big expenses in the long run. Don't forget such essentials as:
- Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
- Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.
- Request a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
- You want to check to see that no changes have been made that were not agreed on (i.e., a nice chandelier that you assumed came with the sale having been replaced by a cheap ceiling light).
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional represent you and keep track of all the details for you is highly recommended. Please contact us directly to discuss any of these matters in further detail.