Buying a home for the first time can often seem harder than it has to be. Use these 10 tips to help make the process as smooth as possible, putting you that much closer to making your dream of homeownership come true! With the right knowledge and preparation on your part (and the right agent), the first-time home buying process can be fun, educational, and a process you’d welcome again!10 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

1. Your Credit Score – Before the process of buying your first home can even begin, you have to have a good credit score. In order to be eligible for the lowest interest rates possible, mortgage lenders are expecting to see a credit score in the 700 or higher range. Improving your credit score should start with knowing where you currently stand.  From there you will need to make sure you are paying bills on time and lowering your debt to income ratio as much as possible. Visit this link for tips to improve your credit score, provided by Experian.

2. Find the Best Agent for Your Situation – Not every Realtor is right for everyone and their situation. Choosing a Real Estate agent that will work best with you doesn’t have to be hard, you just need to ask the right questions. The first step is to talk to friends and family who will give you an honest recommendation about someone they’ve worked with. Again, not every Realtor is right for every situation, so take your time when choosing who will become the person to help make your plans a reality!

3. Have a Budget and Get Preapproved – Before you take the step of getting preapproved, you have to determine what monthly payment you’re comfortable with. Remember though, if you use on-line mortgage calculators, the taxes you have to pay are not included. For example, a mortgage calculator will give you a number based on the purchase price and an interest rate, but when you deal with a mortgage lender, the number you’ll get from them can include taxes, so your monthly payment will be higher. Another tip — you may qualify for more than you can actually afford. Take all of your expenses into account and look at the dollar amount you actually have to spend each month to set your home buying budget.

Getting preapproved by a mortgage lender is a must BEFORE you start house hunting. You’ll know exactly price range you should be looking in, and in many cases, preapproval is needed to even make an offer on a home.

4. The Neighborhood is as Important as the House – Before you can narrow down your choices for your first home, you’ll want to see the areas during different times of the day and days of the week. Drive around to get a feel for what you could expect should you move into that neighborhood. Doing a bit of research on potential neighborhoods is a great way to determine what area is best for you. Take Savannah for example; if you’re looking for a neighborhood that is more family friendly than commercial, Ardsley Park would be a better option for you than the Victorian District. Here’s more about Savannah’s neighborhoods.

5. Be Ready to Buy – Don’t start looking at homes until you are actually ready to sign on the dotted line. If your finances are not in order, you’re not preapproved, or have a low credit score, you put yourself at risk of losing a house you find you really want.

This is part 1 in a two-part series of tips for first-time home buyers. Next week I’ll post Part 2, with 5 more items that should be on your checklist! Do you have questions about any of the tips in this section?

My name is Helen Miltiades and I am an experienced Realtor in Savannah, Ga.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me for any Real Estate or vacation needs and questions. Connect with me on my Facebook Page for even more events and happenings in the Savannah area, as well as homeownership tips, real estate market updates, and so much more!

If you are moving to the Savannah, Ga area, any one of the many homes for sale could just be your dream home!