Advice from one First Time Homebuyer or Builder to Another:
Most people will go through the process to buy or build a home at some point in time in their lives, and if you’ve just decided to do this for the very first time, CONGRATULATIONS! This is a big deal and can be one of the most exciting tasks you take on. Unfortunately, where it is the most exciting, it can also be the most stressful, but by staying organized throughout the process you can save yourself a ton of unnecessary frustrations. Here are a few things I wish I had known when I bought my home, and definitely will do if I go through the experience again.
There are multiple types of mortgage loans such as VA, FHA and Conventional that fit with different budgets and lifestyles. You might also consider stopping by multiple lenders to get a feel for them. We’re all human and some humans just don’t mesh well with others. You should feel comfortable talking to your lender about your concerns, because the last thing you want is to end up in a home you hate because you felt like your lender wasn’t there for you. Once you find a lender that fits well with your personality and is willing to get you the best bang for your buck, you can get a preapproval.
Get a Binder:
The preapproval letter is one of the first of many papers you will receive whilst on your journey. It is for that reason that my second piece of advice is to make a trip to your local dollar store and purchase a 99 cent binder and some tab dividers. You’ll probably be given folders from the lender, and the builder, and the inspector, and maybe the appraiser too. By having a binder you can keep all of your materials in one place. You may have some pieces of paper that are ledger size, which, as you may have guessed, is not standard. They are big, and official looking, and may even feel like if you ruin it’s pristine-ness then something bad will happen, but any papers you are given are yours to keep, and can be folded neatly to fit in your binder. Make sure to keep your binder in a safe, yet easily accessible spot, and you can add your personal materials and items to it too!
By personal items, I don’t mean a diary with your innermost thoughts, or a picture of a house that you drew when you were six (although, if those things seem to give a lot of inspiration, then throw those in too), but I mean checklists and the like. I understand that not everyone is a ‘checklist person’, but I found that the more I wrote things down or printed things, the more I felt the weight come off my shoulders, not to mention every single time I’ve said, “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it”, I prove myself wrong. Things like Pinterest and Houzz boards, the favorite zillow listings, must haves and must not haves, To-Dos, past houses that were visited, past houses that offers were made, and anything else that could be thought of So, you’ve got your mortgage, your binder, your checklists, but what if you’re still confused?
I cannot recommend that you do this enough, ask your friends, family, neighbors, lender, realtor, builder, designer, and anyone else who might be able to give you some information. You never know what you don’t know, and in the end, you’re the one who has to live in your home. Knowing what is happening at all points will help you to make an informed decision about the best course of action for you, can help when it comes time to file taxes, and can help make you an expert in the field when someone you’re close to is going down a similar path. All of these things together should help you to stay organized from Pinterest to Project to Product. My first home-buying experience was admittedly pretty rough, but that doesn’t mean yours has to be. So good luck and happy home hunting!