Buying your first home: What you need to know

Buying your first home

You’ve decided to buy your first home. Congratulations!

Buying a home can be an overwhelming process for everyone, especially first-time homebuyers, but preparing for the process now can help you keep sane while searching for a new home in Clack County. Before you rush out to start looking at open houses and placing offers, check out these tips to help navigate the home buying process as a first-timer.

Review your finances and get pre-qualified

Not sure how much houses are selling for these days? A quick search in your desired neighborhood or using an online mortgage calculator is a good way to get an idea of what your estimated monthly housing cost could be, including property taxes, HOA fees, utilities, home insurance and maintenance.

If a home purchase comfortably fits within your budget (Fannie Mae recommends spending no more than 28% of your income on housing), it’s time to get your finances in order. Review your credit report and address any issues or errors. If you have a less-than-stellar credit score, take the time to repair your score by paying off debt and lowering your utilization rate). Repairing your credit score is a long process so if you think you’ll need to make some fixes, be sure to start this process at least 6 months before you start shopping for a new home.

Set your budget – and stick to it!

A new home will be the largest financial purchase you’ll make so be prepared! Get preapproved for a mortgage so you know exactly how much your lender can lend you. Remember: you don’t have to borrow the entire amount! Select a range that works for your budget and be prepared to walk away from a house if the monthly payment is more than you can afford.

Identify your must-haves versus your wants

House hunting is full of compromises and depending on your budget, you may not be able to get all your dream features in the same house. Make a list of your non-negotiable features you MUST have in your new home and how you want to live (the three common areas to prioritize are: price, size and location). This will help you find a home that best fits your lifestyle and will allow you to grow into.

Find the right neighborhood

Do you know which neighborhood you want to live in or are you open? Take some time to research and explore desired neighborhoods that best fit your lifestyle and budget. Be sure to consider amenities and distance from recreation, shopping, schools, and work.

When you’re ready to start touring homes, check out our amazing communities throughout Clark County.