Tips for first time home buyers:

Sixteen years ago, my wife and I bought our first house together. I was a school teacher in El Paso, Texas. To say that it changed me is an understatement. My self-esteem increased by bounds. I suddenly felt that I could do anything. I was 37 years old, but I finally felt like a grown-up.
That is just it – purchasing a home is a grown up thing to do. You are a part of the community. You are a better employee. Dare I say – you are a better citizen. The American Dream is still alive. Owning a home is a BIG DEAL and CHANGES YOUR LIFE.
Well through all the changes in my life, now I get to help others get that same feeling. I have worked with a couple of first time buyers now, and I have noticed (maybe remembered) that they make some assumptions about working with me and the whole home buying process that aren’t always right. The whole process is scary and challenging. I put together a few tips that might help:
1. Home buying is a process: Nobody expects you to know how to do it. That is why you work with a Realtor. They can guide you through the process and help answer questions. That is a topic for a whole other post.
2. Get pre-qualified with a local lender: Let’s keep stuff local. Guess what – that is a good practice. Nothing is more frustrating than calling a 1-800 number when you have a question or a problem. Also, let the Realtor know who are using. Different lenders have different rules, and your Realtor does not want to waste time looking at houses that you can’t buy. Plus, what if you LOVE one of those homes. You will hate on your Realtor and your lender if you can’t buy it. Life is too short for hate.
3. Look at a few homes and then make a criteria list: Looking at a couple of really different places helps you see what is on the market. Also, you might see a great place you would never have seen otherwise. For example, when my wife and I moved to Fort Worth, we wanted a garage. That was non-negotiable. Our Realtor (who is now my broker), found a great house without a garage. The short of the story is we bought that house. It was a great house and we lived there until my daughter was 9 months old and the house was just too small.
4. Be patient: If you fall in love with the first house you see then you are a schmuck! Even in a seller’s market there are choices. Don’t get mad at your Realtor just because they have not found you a house. Do your homework too. I set up a portal so that my clients can see houses that match their criteria the day they come on the market. If you see something you like, let your Realtor know. He or she is NOT TOO BUSY TO SHOW YOU A HOUSE. If they are, you need a new Realtor and should call me.
5. Use a Realtor: You might think – “how else would I buy a house?” Let me tell you a quick story:
When my wife was in law school, we were watching the news one night. They had a consumer report about a young woman who was taken advantage of by some crook. She owned a small business and was having some success. She wanted to buy a home. Rather than use a Realtor, she looked in the local “Thrifty Nickel.” The guy had her pay him as a “rent to own,” but she could not take possession of the mobile home until she paid him off. She paid him a couple of months and then he skipped town with her money. I felt so sorry for her. Using a Realtor costs the buyer no money, and gives them a professional to look after the buyer’s interests. All it really costs you is loyalty, but you get the same in return. Plus, when something at your perfect new house breaks, call the Realtor. They know all the good contractors.