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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 Austin, TX.
• Pre-Qualification: Meet with a mortgage broker and find out how much a lender will loan you for a home. This could translate into more or less than you would actually want to pay each month.
• Pre-Approval: While knowing how much you can afford is the first step, in the current market, sellers will not accept offers from potential buyers who have not been pre-approved. So, this step is obviously crucial. You'll also avoid the disappointment falling in love with a home outside your price range. With Pre-Approval, the buyer actually applies for a mortgage and receives a commitment in writing from a lender. This way, assuming the home of interest is at or under the amount of your pre-approval, the seller knows immediately that you are a serious buyer for that property. Costs for pre-approval are generally nominal and lenders will usually permit you to pay them when you "close" your loan (sign the papers to buy the house).
• 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, first-time buyers will probably not get everything on the wish list, but it will keep you on track in your search.
• Representation by a Professional: Hire your own real estate agent who works for you, the Buyer, not the Seller. In Texas, the Buyer's Agent is generally paid by the Seller at closing. So, this representation is generally free to you.
• Focus & Organization: In a convenient location, keep handy the items that will assist you in maximizing your home search efforts. Such items may include:
1) One or more detailed maps with your areas of interest highlighted.
2) A list or file of the properties that your agent has shown to you.
3) Paper and pen for taking notes as you search.
4) A camera to snap pictures of homes you have toured to help you remember your favorites and features you really liked.
• 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:
1) Include inspection & mortgage contingencies in your written offer.
2) Have the property inspected by a professional inspector.
3) Go to the final walk-through 24 hours before closing to ensure the house remains in the previous condition.
4) Check that no changes were made that were not agreed upon in the contract (i.e., a nice chandelier replaced by a cheap light fixture).
All the above may seem rather overwhelming. That is why having a professional Buyer's Agent 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.