10 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers – Part II

Around three weeks ago we had our first blog post about tips for first-time homebuyers, and you should now have a better idea of how much you can spend on the house and whether you would be able to get a mortgage! Now, let’s look at another five tips that will make home-buying a more pleasant experience for you.

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6. Can you maintain the property?

When it comes to home maintenance, it is not just about keeping the house clean. A lot of times, maintaining a house involves repairs and renovations, and if you do a good job, you can keep, or even increase, the value of your home. Some common home maintenance tasks include cleaning the gutter, sealing cracks and gaps in windows and doors, draining and winterizing exterior plumbing, and basic landscaping such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and removing weeds. If you do not think you can manage all these tasks by yourself, then it might be better if you get a smaller house. If you prefer to hire professionals to do all of the maintenance for you, then be sure to take future maintenance expenses into account before buying a house. Of course, maintenance would not be a big problem if you are considering buying a condo or co-op. Most condos and co-ops charge monthly maintenance fees, and the fees cover heat, pest control, plumbing, trash, snow removal, etc. In other words, by paying monthly fees, most maintenance tasks will be taken care of for you. However, note that maintenance fees can be higher than you think, and so, definitely do your research and include maintenance fees into your analysis!

 

7. Work with an experienced real estate broker.

As technology continues to evolve, more and more people see it as the one and only source of information and solution to all problems. While it is true that you can become knowledgeable of real estate by googling “real estate” and “home-buying”, there are still benefits of working with a broker. An experienced and educated broker can tell you a lot about the local market. After all, while you have only two hours (after finishing up your last email to the client and doing the laundry) researching online, the broker spends eight hours per day finding new deals and learning about the market trends. In addition, keep in mind that, unlike buying a cup of coffee at Joe’s Coffee, every transaction in real estate involves negotiation, and you will find it a lot easier to make offers and negotiate if you have an experienced broker by your side.

 

8. Don’t just attend the open house. Befriend the seller and their broker.

Not only can you find out more about the property while attending an open house, but you can also build a friendly relationship with the seller and their broker. Remember, real estate is all about “relationships”. By befriending the seller, sharing with him/her what you like about the house, you make yourself memorable, and at the same time, the seller might be more willing to work with you.  A good relationship with the seller and their broker works in your favor along the way. However, note that you should bring your broker with you when you attend an open house, as your broker knows very well when to ask the question and when to compliment the property.

 

9. Don’t pull the trigger too fast.

You might have heard that someone found their dream apartment in one month, or a newlywed couple bought a house in the suburb only weeks after starting their house search. But in most cases, buying a home does take a while, and it can become frustrating sometimes. However, do not get discouraged if you haven’t been able to find a home that you truly love. Do not be desperate and make an offer too fast without analyzing all the pros and cons as well as expenses. You do not want to regret your decision after paying the 25% down payment; nor do you want to hold on to a property you hate and spend another year trying to sell it. Be sure to review everything before pulling the trigger – comparable home prices, local market trends, neighborhood vibes, mortgage payments, property taxes, etc. The more thoughtful and careful you are, the more likely you will be able to make the right decision, at the right moment, for the right property.

 

10. Talk to the neighbors or doorman before you make up your mind.

Indeed, by driving or walking around in the neighborhood you should be able to get a good sense of the area and whether or not you and your family could fit in. However, it is a different story when you actually interact with the neighbors. Sellers can be careless and forget to inform you of material facts about the house, and by talking to the neighbors, you will be able to conduct due diligence. In the city, it might be hard to interact with the neighbors, but remember, you can always talk to the doorman. As a watchman of the building, the doorman knows almost everything, including the condition of the plumbing system, how well the management team handles emergency or maintenance requests, and food and entertainment options in the neighborhood.