9 Surprising Things First Time Home Buyers Should Know

People who have been homeowners for a long time tend to forget how exciting and nerve-wracking it feels to buy a home for the first time. Once you’ve been through the process, you know what to expect and aren’t surprised by the second (or fifth) go-around. But for new homeowners, the road is filled with novel experiences, and the learning curve might feel a bit steep to someone who has never been through it before.

So, let’s take a look at ten things that may surprise you as a first time buyer, to help cut down on that learning curve!

1. Getting pre-approved is very, very important

While there are no barriers to looking at houses online, it’s absolutely critical to get pre-approved for financing before going to look at homes in person. This will allow you to not only determine exactly what you can afford, it will ensure that you’re ready to make a strong offer in the event you find your dream home.

2. There are a huge amount of resources available for homebuyers

The housing industry is a giant segment of the economy—an entire ecosystem that keeps millions of people employed. That’s why there are so many resources catering to potential home buyers: from listing websites, to learning tools, to guides, videos, and everything in between. If you have any question, no matter how specific, there’s a good chance you can easily find the answers you’re looking for.

3. A home can be much different in person than in photos

Pictures don’t always tell the full story. This can be a tough lesson to learn, especially if you get your hopes up. The good news is that this works in both directions. Sometimes, photos make a home seem a lot nicer than it really is. But, just as often, pictures don’t capture the entire essence of a house, and might fall short when it comes to showcasing it’s more positive attributes. The bottom line is: you should see it in person to be sure.

4. If a house is a great deal, expect plenty of competition

Unless you’re looking in an especially unique area, you’re likely to find plenty of competitors when a listing is a great deal, or when it has “everything” most people are looking for. There are exceptions, of course, and sometimes you might get lucky, but for the most part, if you recognize a great opportunity, there’s a good chance other people will too. It doesn’t even need to be a “deal”…it can just be when a house is priced appropriately within the market. Always expect that if you see the value and appeal of a home, so will another buyer. So, act quick, and write up a strong offer!

5. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous before (and after) an offer

Don’t feel silly if you find yourself filled with anxiety after submitting an offer. And definitely don’t be hard on yourself if you’re anxious even after your offer has been accepted. It’s completely normal to worry about all the decisions, stresses, and eventualities as you’re going through the process.

6. There’s plenty to do to keep everyone busy before the closing

If you think an accepted offer means you’re done, think again. In some ways, this is when the real work starts. A lot of the work will be done for you by industry professionals, but you will need to be ready and aware of anything they need you to do on your end. For example, lenders will want contract and financial documentation, and lawyers or title companies will need you to review documents and sign off or acknowledge them.

7. Agents, mortgage brokers, and lawyers will explain everything to you

Don’t be afraid of the nuances and moving parts of buying a home, because from day one, you have plenty of resources at your fingertips. Your agent, your mortgage broker, your closing attorney, and everyone in between will be able to explain the process and answer questions as you move forward. These people usually have years of experience, and none of them will begrudge you for not knowing everything they know. And if you have questions, or something doesn’t make sense, don’t be shy…just ask! That’s what they’re there for!

8. Owning feels different than renting

Renters don’t have the same skin in the game that owners do, and when you’ve bought something and put your money and credit on the line, it feels different. Once you close on your home and move in, you’ll start to understand the feeling of commitment and ownership that comes from your own space. You’ll not only want to make it yours, but you’ll also feel a sense of pride and care that is often elusive for renters.

9. An agent does a lot more than help you find a house

Some people think of real estate agents like cashiers: people who help you with a transaction before you move on and forget all about them. But in practice, this is often not the case. Buying a home is such an emotional journey for even the most stoic among us that it’s almost impossible not to form a deeper connection with the person helping you find the perfect home, and guiding you through the process. Agents will serve as consultants, confidantes, interior designers, therapists, and everything in between. Agents become a part of one of life’s biggest milestones, and this makes it nearly impossible for them to take it lightly.

Hopefully this will make you a more confident buyer and help take some of the surprise out of the process for you!

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Fantastic custom built home located on 2.5 picturesque acres! Updated throughout, granite counters in kitchen and all bathrooms, new kitchen appliances. Trex deck off kitchen is the perfect place for entertaining or relaxing. Hardwood flooring throughout main level, vaulted ceilings in entryway give home light and open feeling. Partially finished basement with full bath could be used as additional bedroom. Upgraded Anderson windows and doors throughout home. Attached garage has upgraded 9ft doors to accommodate larger vehicles. Lower detached 30x40 garage is insulated and has electricity, a mechanic's dream garage!
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Why Home Prices Are Still Rising Despite the Global Pandemic

To say the economic news coming out lately has been disconcerting would be an understatement. Statistics concerning job losses, furloughs, and unemployment figures have pointed to upheaval in the global economy as a result of social distancing measures, which were put in place by governments to contain the global COVID-19 pandemic.

But according to recent data from Realtor.com, there is one statistic that should give homeowners (especially potential sellers) some comfort—home prices still appear to be on the rise. In the week ending April 25, the median home list price ticked up by 1.6% annually, compared to one year ago. The data comes from the 99 largest metropolitan areas.

To be sure, price growth was higher a few months ago, when prices were rising by over 4% prior to the lockdown. But this is still a positive sign given the turmoil in other segments of the economy, and could provide reassurance about the stability of the housing market for those considering buying or selling their property.

So why do housing prices appear to be holding steady despite uncertainty in the broader economy?

First, it could be that prices are “sticky”, according to Realtor.com Chief Economist, Danielle Hale:

“The slight increase this week is because prices are sticky. Home sellers are strongly resistant to lowering prices, and they’d gotten really close to declining, so we see a bounce-back. I don’t think this is a return to big price increases.”

The second reason might have to do with the reduction in inventory. The number of homes for sale has been on the decline for years, leading to a much publicized housing shortage in many parts of the country. Low inventory and high demand tends to drive prices up as more buyers compete for fewer houses.

And, after the pandemic hit, available inventory has plummeted. Some estimates put the decline of annual inventory at upwards of 17% compared to last year. Meanwhile, according to the Realtor.com data, the number of new listings has plummeted by a whopping 43.1%.

People are pulling their homes off the market, or waiting to list them because they’re worried about their own economic prospects, concerned with moving during such an uncertain time, or believe that the health risk of having strangers visiting their property isn’t worth it. In any event, listings have slowed, which has helped keep prices of homes that are on the market fairly high.

So, despite the constant deluge of health and economic news, home prices appear to be holding steady. This is good news for anyone who is considering selling, or wants confidence that they’ll be buying a home that has value. It might also give buyers and sellers an edge in a market where many others are choosing a “wait and see approach.”

As always, if you’re thinking about buying or selling a property, or have any real estate questions at all, don’t hesitate to reach out. Even during these difficult times, there are still great opportunities for sellers and buyers.

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