Buying a house is a pretty big deal, and it can feel pretty impossible in today's market. From finding a place that fits your budget to the stress that comes with making an offer, there's a lot that goes down to get your dream home.
So when Reddit user trobert4001 asked, "What advice would you give to first-time home buyers?" people came to the rescue with an array of helpful tips. Here's what they had to say:
1. "Buying a house with someone you are not married to, especially someone whose credit is no good, can cause endless headaches down the road."
2. "Don't sink every penny you have into the down payment and closing costs. You need to budget for a lot of expenses your first few months."
3. "Look at as many houses as you can stand. The biggest mistake my wife and I made was looking at literally one house and thinking it was amazing and not even bothering to continue looking. Now that we've had a year to live in it and watch a ton of HGTV/DIY Network, we're both not particularly fond of it."
4. "Find your own inspector. You need a highly recommended and qualified home inspector. [They] will be your only defense against buying a huge headache."
5. "Look beyond decor. Try to look at the functionality of a house and try not to notice that you really hate the carpet color or that it needs painting."
6. "Pay attention to which way the house is facing. If you are in a warm climate, rooms with windows facing western sky will become ovens in the afternoon. Rooms facing east will get morning sun then be dark later in the day. South/north facing is good."
7. "Go by the house a few times on the weekend, and early weekday evenings. Look at what is going on in the neighborhood. It's hard to quantify, but seeing families out playing or walking with their kids is a very good indicator."
8. "Neighbors. Talk to them. Who are they? Are they nice? Are they freaks? Can you live by them? So important."
9. "Overestimate the cost of everything. Closing costs, repairs, and mortgage payments will all probably be higher than you expect. Take a realistic estimate of these costs, add 20%, and if you still can afford it all, go for it."
10. "You buy and own all the problems, even if you don't truly own it because of a loan."
11. "People are really distrustful of agents but a good agent can make or break the process. As for how to get one: get recommendations from people who bought a house with that agent, not just people who have a cousin/brother/neighbor who's an agent. Interview more than one, even if you like the first one (it costs nothing to talk with a buyer's agent). Be wary of anyone who is only telling you things you want to hear. Be wary of anyone who doesn't lay out the whole process upon hearing that you're a first-time buyer. Ask how many transactions they've closed in the past 12 months. You want to hear a number higher than 12 (unless they specialize in high-end properties)."
12. "Location is the most important quality. This cannot be overstated. Being able to resell the property depends almost entirely on the location."
13. "Save money for the inevitable repairs. You'll need more the first few years, as usually the previous owner had selling in mind for a while and likely only did the minimum required. Don't assume the home will appreciate. Counting on additional equity for any future financial goals or needs is foolish."
14. "Many times the home inspector will not say you shouldn't buy the house, but he will say that this part might need to be upgraded or fixed in the near future. Read in between the lines and price it out."
15. "Stay within your budget, not what you are approved for."
16. "Get multiple quotes for a mortgage rate. Then use the two quotes against each other to possibly get a lower one. The hardest part is getting all the paperwork together, but only have to do that once."
17. "If there are any major problems upon inspection (i.e. roof, foundation, plumbing, etc.), do not allow the sellers to fix them! Get quotes, take that amount out of your offer, and hire your own people to make the repairs. You would be surprised how many legitimately licensed companies will cut corners when they know the customer doesn't give a s--t about the quality of the repair since the house is about to transfer owners."
18. "If the seller says that there are a lot of offers on it [they] may or may not be telling the truth. Regardless, don't rush into the deal until you have done all of your homework."
19. "Pay attention to the property taxes of the houses you're looking at. This will most likely be the largest part of your house payment (composed of a mortgage payment, home insurance payment, and property tax payment). [It] will also be the part that never disappears, and will most likely only increase over time."
20. "Always, always remember, it'll be your first home, not your last. If you chose wisely, it'll appreciate in value, you can then sell it within five to seven years, make a great profit, and buy an even bigger and better home."
21. "Have fun with the process. We toured enough houses that it started stressing us out towards the end because we felt pressured or that we had to pick by some self-imposed deadline. If the house doesn't feel like 'home,' don't force it."
22. "Sometimes the best deal you can make on a house is to walk away. Never be afraid to kill the deal if something isn't to your liking and there isn't a work around that satisfies you. It's your money, time, and energy on the line. Don't get talked into a fixer-upper if you don't want to deal with that or an overpriced brand new home if it's beyond your budget."
What tips would you give to first-time homebuyers? Share your knowledge in the comments!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.