Are You Ready to be a "First-time Buyer"?

If you are thinking about buying a home, and are weighing the options, here are some things to take into consideration.

If you've never bought a home before, this might be the perfect real estate market for you. Home prices continue to drop throughout the country and sellers are figuring out that they have to be flexible with their prices and terms or their houses will not sell. Buyers now have a greater choice of affordable homes, and can use the slow seller's market to negotiate more favorable prices and terms. This means more opportunity for homebuyers, especially first-time buyers, to find a good deal.

How do you know if you are ready to take the leap to becoming a homeowner? If you are thinking about buying a home, and are weighing the options, here are some things to take into consideration.

  • Keep renting or buy? Compare the cost of renting with the cost of owning. You'll want to research interest rates, and estimate the costs that aren't included in renting, like insurance, HOA dues, home maintenance and improvements. The average price of a home in the U.S. is $243,408 per The National Association of Realtors®. Consider what you have for a down payment, as well. Researching all of your potential costs will prepare you for what it will be like when you are ready to buy.

  • How much should I spend? When you begin your home buying search, it's wise to get pre-approved by at least one lender. The lender will help you understand your financial situation and provide guidance on how much home you can afford to buy. You may find lenders online or through your real estate agent. When you meet with the lender, take your recent pay stubs, a copy of your W-2 form, and your bank statements.

  • Where could I live? Don't just pick a city or neighborhood on a map and decide that's where you want to live. Research all aspects the areas where you'd like to live, including home prices and availability, commute times, the quality of public or private schools, insurance rates, the availability of parks, and anything else that may be important to you or your family now or in the future. If the market changes, you may be in your home longer than expected so it's good to prepare yourself long-term.

  • How do I start my search? Besides working with a real estate agent to show you homes for sale online, the Internet is a terrific place to start your own home search. Websites like www.homegain.com, will help you with all your real estate needs, including finding an agent, viewing homes for sale, and getting more tips on buying a home.

You'll find the more you know about buying a home, the better prepared you'll be and the more comfortable you'll feel when it comes time to make your purchase.

Good luck!