Buying your first home is an exciting milestone. However, taking the leap can be intimidating. Many aspiring homeowners have a dream house in mind but may not know where to start. From financing to closing, here are a few basic tips for navigating the home buying process for the first time.

Save For A Down Payment

The initial down payment can be one of the most daunting aspects of home buying. While some lending companies allow home buyers to put down as little as three percent, this isn’t always wise. A lower down payment means higher mortgage payments down the line, which can be tricky to manage. Homebuyers who opt for this option might also need to buy mortgage insurance. So, it may be best to wait to buy until you can afford a responsible down payment. In most cases, you should try to put around 20 percent down.

Find The Right Real Estate Agent

Especially if it’s your first time buying a home, it’s generally best to avoid navigating the market on your own. An experienced real estate agent can help you find a house that’s in your budget and checks out on your other priorities. They can also guide you through the negotiation process. Just be sure to find an agent with local knowledge. For example, a real estate agency in Ann Arbor, MI will know which neighborhoods are best for your lifestyle and which homes are priced close to market value.

Get Pre-Approved For A Loan

Some first-time homebuyers make the mistake of searching for home then applying for a loan. Unfortunately, this often leads to disappointment. You wouldn’t want to fall in love with a house only to realize you can’t afford it. This is why it’s important to get approved for a mortgage before you even start looking. Then you can narrow your search based on your true budget.

Prioritize Location

You might know what layout you’re looking for in a home and how many bedrooms you need. However, remember that the location of your home is often more pivotal than its features. You can renovate a kitchen, but you can’t change your neighborhood. If you’re moving to a new city, do some research about potential neighborhoods ahead of time. Better yet, make a visit or two to walk around neighborhoods in person. Talk to your real estate agent about the local schools, proximity to local actives, and the length of your potential commute. All of these factors can help you find the perfect location for your family.

Always Schedule An Inspection

Once you find your dream home, you might be ready to put in an offer and sign the paperwork right away. However, you don’t know what issues might be lingering under the perfect facade. Always schedule a home inspection before committing to a sale. You might uncover costly issues like faulty roofing or an old HVAC system. Small issues like pests, which could require a raccoon trapper for removal, are quite common in homes that have been sitting vacant. Even if you are willing to take on any maintenance and repair costs, it’s helpful to know exactly what you’re dealing with. And in some cases, you might decide it’s best to move on.

Buying your first home can take years of planning. However, you can find your dream home by preparing for the down payment, sticking to your priorities, and working with a reputable real estate agent. Whether you’re moving down the block or across the country, sticking to these best practices will help you to make an informed decision. And buying your second home will feel like a breeze.