First-Time Homebuyers Guide: Steps for Buying

| Updated on May 8, 2024

Buying a house is an exciting milestone for any family, and it’s one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may have questions about how to get started. And as exciting as it is, buying a house an also be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help first-time buyers navigate the home-buying process so they can make the right choice for their families and themselves.

The following are some tips to guide you through your home-buying journey!

Evaluate Your Financial Health and Situation

Homeownership can be an exciting time in your life, but before you jump into the market, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate your financial health and situation. Take stock of how much money you have saved for a down payment, what kind of monthly mortgage payments you can afford, and what kind of monthly bills you’ll have after buying a house. This is also a good time to think about whether or not moving might be the best decision for your family.

If you are ready to buy a house, make sure that you have enough money for closing costs in case you won’t be able to negotiate more favorable terms. They typically total between 2% and 4% of the total cost of the property.

Here are some useful questions you need to consider when buying your first house:

  • How much can I afford? If you’re going to buy a house, you’ll need to have enough income to pay for it. The amount you’ll need to spend on housing depends on the size of the house, where it’s located, and whether or not it has any renovations that need doing. It also depends on whether you plan on paying off your mortgage in full at the start of each month or over time.
  • What kind of mortgage do I want? There are several different kinds of mortgages available, including fixed-rate mortgages and mortgages. Fixed-rate mortgages give buyers more stability but usually charge higher interest rates than variable-rate mortgages.
  • Do I have enough savings? Saving up money for a down payment is essential when buying a property because most lenders require buyers to put 20 percent down on their purchase price. That means if you’re buying a $100,000 house, you’ll need at least $20,000 saved to qualify for financing.

Prioritize Your Wants and Needs

You should make a list of what you want and need in your next house, including the following:

  • Your financial priorities: If you have student loans or other debt, then paying off that debt may be your top priority. If you have children, then finding an area with good schools may be important to you.
  • Write down what you can afford to spend on a house: The price range changes drastically depending on where in the country they are located.

Also, consider how much square footage will be appropriate for your family as

well as whether any renovations will need to be done before moving into a new house (such as painting).

  • Consider the location: When looking at listings online, try searching by

“neighborhoods” instead of just “zip codes.” This way, when viewing properties online they’ll show up based on their proximity within the same area rather than just being listed alphabetically by neighborhood name (e.g., “central park


Check Your Credit

When you begin to look for a house, one of the first things you’ll need to do is check your credit. It’s important that you have a strong credit score when buying a house because lenders use it to determine how much money they will be willing to lend you. A low score may mean that even if you are able to qualify for a loan, it will come with higher interest rates and closing costs. However, you don’t need to panic if your credit score is low, there are still ways to improve it.

A good credit score can help you get a better rate on your mortgage and save you money over time. A bad score can lead to higher interest rates and even cause some lenders to reject your application for a home loan altogether.

Get Pre-approved

One of the best things you can do before you start shopping for a property is to get pre-approved. A lender will look at your income, credit history, and other factors to determine how much money they will lend you. Once you have an idea of how much money you can borrow, it’s easier to figure out what type of estate would be within your reach financially. When searching for homes in an area that meets your needs, this makes it easier to know what price range is realistic.

Getting pre-approved also gives buyers negotiating power with sellers when purchasing a house because they have proof that lenders are willing to give them loans on those terms.

Save for a Down Payment

If you’re planning to make a down payment, remember: a 20% down payment on the purchase price is standard. The more money you can afford to put toward this, the better! It will help with your monthly payments and reduce the amount of money you have to borrow.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Set a budget for how much you can afford to spend on a place.
  • Decide how much of that money will go toward buying the home (the mortgage) and how much goes toward closing costs (like inspections).
  • Make a list of everything that needs to be paid upfront when buying a house, including things like insurance premiums and taxes at closing time. Then add those up so you know exactly how much money needs to be saved up before starting to look at houses.

Work with an Experienced Real Estate Broker

When you’re ready to start looking for your first home, it can be a little overwhelming. There are so many options out there and so much information available that it can be hard to know where to start. But one of the best ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of your first-time home-buying experience is by working with a real estate agent.

What does a real estate broker do? A good agent will help you narrow down your search by recommending the best neighborhoods for what you’re looking for (for example: if you want to be close to public transportation, an agent can help you find an area that offers that). They’ll also provide information about schools, crime rates, and other important factors in each neighborhood so that you have all the facts before deciding where your next house will be. You’ll also want someone who’s familiar with local regulations and laws so that they can help guide you through the process of buying or selling property in your area. They’ll help ensure that your transaction goes smoothly, and quickly, from start to finish.

Get a Home Inspection and Survey

A house inspection is an important step in the process of buying a property. It gives you a chance to evaluate the general condition of your prospective property before making a final decision.

Your inspector will examine all major systems in the house, including the electrical, plumbing, heating, and cooling systems. They’ll also test for lead paint on interior surfaces (which requires special certification).

Your inspector should be licensed by the state where they work and insured against liability claims related to their services. They should have experience with properties similar to yours; if they don’t specialize in one area or another (like historical homes),find another person who does! The last thing you want is someone who doesn’t know what they are doing checking out your dream house! With a full range of surveying services in several states, experts from can help you with your land surveying needs, whatever they may be.

Concluding Thoughts

You’re taking the first steps toward homeownership, and we hope we were able to provide some guidance. Remember: you don’t have to do it all at once—it can take time. So if there’s something on our list that seems overwhelming or confusing, take a break from looking at houses today or tomorrow and come back when you feel ready again! We know it can be hard to find your house in such an expensive market, but just keep plugging away at it until something clicks for you (because we promise, it will).

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