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Take the fear out of homebuying
Wednesday, August 5, 2009 • Posted August 4, 2009 10:00 PM

With the first-time homebuyer federal tax credit and other available programs, some renters are taking the plunge into homeownership. Are you one of them?

The complexity of the transaction and the increased financial obligations can make buying a home seem a little scary – but don’t freak out! A little research and some help from your Texas Realtor can reduce the stress and increase your satisfaction with the homebuying process. Below are some tips to help you avoid making common first-time homebuyer mistakes.

Finding the right Realtor

Whether you find your Texas Realtor on the Internet, through a yard sign, a newspaper ad, or a referral, make sure you openly communicate your concerns and expectations. As a first-time buyer, you have specific needs and may need a little more guidance.

Ask questions

Many first-time homebuyers are apprehensive about the mortgage process. Don't let that prevent you from asking questions. If you fail to ask, you may miss out on the best deals or a key piece of information. From below-market interest rates to down payment and closing-cost assistance, there are a variety of affordable-housing programs available to first-time homebuyers. Failing to investigate them or assuming you won't qualify would be a big mistake. Your Texas REALTOR® can guide you. Just ask.

Think about resale

A common mistake that many first-time homebuyers make is not thinking about the property's resale value before they buy. It might seem a little odd to consider what the home will sell for before you've even decided to buy it, but it's a big factor. The average first-time homebuyer only stays in the home less than six years, so it makes sense to analyze the home's resale value from the beginning. Your Texas REALTOR® can help you identify factors that contribute to a property's resale value.

Find the balance

Buying your first home may require a little bit of compromise on your part. For instance, you may have to choose between a new home in a new subdivision and an older home with a big yard and established trees. The point is that you may have to compromise on one or more features or details.

Start out by prioritizing your wants and needs and don't let the emotional component steer you away from those goals. I’m not implying you should settle for just anything … it's good to be picky, but don't be unrealistic. You’ll never remove emotion from the process; just make sure your rational brain steers your decisions, too.

They mean well

If you need a second opinion, go to someone you trust, but do yourself this favor – don't involve every person you know in your homebuying process. You'll go crazy. Too many well-intentioned opinions can overwhelm you.

Get it inspected

A property inspection is mandatory for many types of loans. Even if it weren’t required, though, I strongly encourage you to not only get the property inspected, but to be present during the process and ask questions of the inspector. This may be your house and you’ll want to know as much about it as possible.

Consider all costs

When determining just how much home you can afford, make sure you figure in all the costs. There are other expenses to consider when buying a home, including property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, maintenance, and, depending on the neighborhood, homeowners association fees. If you max out your budget on the mortgage alone, you may find yourself in over your head. Before you talk with a lender, sit down with your Texas REALTOR® and determine just how much home you can afford.

Go for it

Buying your first home can be a daunting experience, but the right Texas REALTOR® can help guide you through the maze and reduce your anxiety.

For more consumer-friendly advice on real estate in the Lone Star State, I invite you to visit TexasRealEstate.com. For your real estate needs, contact RE/MAX Genesis at 830-833-2000.

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