The American Dream is alive and well in Eastern Iowa! I am currently working with several first time buyers looking for a place to call home. Because buying a home may be the biggest financial investment of a lifetime, the first time home buyer often experiences a lot of stress, and maybe even confusion, if their real estate agent doesn’t do their job well. Becoming a homeowner is an amazing time of life, and I feel privileged to be part of this journey with these amazing couples.
The first step is to get organized. First, you need to meet with a banker and figure out what you can afford. When you are pre-approved, you can eliminate a contingency in your purchase offer which can make the difference in the seller accepting your offer. By determining your budget up front, your agent will not show you homes that you cannot afford. It is very easy to become “house poor” if you stretch your budget too far. I can assure you that there are incredible homes available in our market at every price point, so there is no point in stretching yourself too thin.
Next, you need to sit down and determine what you really need in a house: location (schools for current or future children often come in to play), size of yard, number of bedrooms, and so on. This article does a great job of outlining these preliminary steps. Think about how your life will change in the next 5 years, and plan accordingly. For example, if there’s a dog in your future, a fenced-in yard might be important. However, if you expect to travel a lot for work, maybe a big yard (and the associated maintenance) is not ideal, no matter how beautiful. When you fill out this form, I will know exactly what you’re looking for, and can help you find it more quickly.
Then, comes the fun part! Your real estate agent will send you listings of homes that match the criteria that you created above, and then you get to go shopping! The more detailed your criteria, the more quickly your agent will be able to narrow down the thousands of homes in inventory to the select few that you will love. Here is the tool I use to make sure I find the best home for my clients.
Once you have found a great new home for your family, take a step back and consider this to make sure that you are looking at the big picture. Your new home comes with a view, neighbors and perhaps a neighborhood association’s rules with which you will be living. Make sure you understand all of these parameters and still love the house. Whatever you do, don’t lose your sense of humor in the process.
Because you prepared for this moment, when you are ready to make an offer, you will not experience any delays and can beat out the competition. Another plus: because you don’t currently own a home, you have a built-in advantage; sellers often don’t like offers contingent upon the sale of another home.