When you’re considering buying your first home, you’ll find several steps involved in this process. By learning more about each of these steps, you’ll be better prepared for your home buying experience. You’ll also find it easier to buy a dream home that fits your budget.

Here are six ways first-time homebuyers can prepare for that big purchase.  

1. First, Check Your Finances

Long before you start your search for the best real estate agent — and real estate in general — make it a priority to prepare your finances for this significant lifestyle change. 

For starters, you should learn about your credit score. You’ll need a good credit score to help you qualify for a mortgage. This is especially true as you search for homes in popular locales like Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, and Austin. And while that good credit will also qualify you for more competitive interest rates, you can help your eligibility and boost your credit by paying down your credit card debt.

2. Save for Your Closing Costs

Most first-time homebuyers realize they’ll need to have saved up a good amount for a down payment. Typically, this is 20% of the total home cost, although some government programs will allow you to put down as little as 3%. In addition to your down payment, you’ll need up to 5% of your mortgage to cover any closing costs

Set aside additional funds to cover your moving and storage expenses. Additionally, consider setting up an emergency fund to handle any unexpected repairs or expenses that may arise after purchasing your first home.

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3. First-time Homebuyers Get Pre-Approved

Before you start looking for the best real estate agent, you should take the time to find a lender. Getting a pre-approval letter from your lender will show your Realtor and home sellers that you’re a serious buyer.

Your pre-approval letter will also help you set a more realistic homebuying budget. This way, you’ll know exactly how much you can afford to spend on the purchase of your new home.

4. Look for the Best Real Estate Agents

There are several factors to consider when you start looking for a top Realtor in, say, Maricopa County, Broward County, King County, or Harris County. 

As first-time homebuyers, you’ll want to find an agent with several years of experience serving your desired local community. Plus, someone who hasn’t lived in the community for a significant time won’t have the knowledge and understanding of the market that you require.

You should also look at previous client reviews and inquire about the agent’s familiarity with other real estate agents in the area. This will help you find an outgoing agent with the connections you need to find your dream home sooner rather than later.

5. Know Your Must-Have Features

Before you meet with a real estate agent, it’s good to separate your “would-be-nice” features from your “must-have” features. Examples of must-have features might include finding a home in a specific neighborhood or making sure there are sufficient bedrooms and bathrooms. While it would be nice to also find a home with a swimming pool or fireplace, you don’t necessarily need those features.

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6. Attend the Inspection

Your lender will require a home inspection, as this will uncover any problems with the home’s major components and systems. Some things the inspector will look at will include the roof, HVAC system, and electrical wiring.

The inspection report can provide valuable insights into the property’s maintenance requirements, safety concerns, and potential repair costs. It is advisable to include a radon gas level evaluation in the full report. Elevated levels of radon gas pose health risks, particularly an increased risk of lung cancer, so it’s an important factor to consider. To evaluate the gas levels accurately, radon monitoring equipment for home inspection should be used. Incorporating radon monitoring ensures a more comprehensive report about the property’s overall condition.

While you don’t have to attend the home inspection, doing so as first-time homebuyers can help you find out about less serious flaws that might not make it into the inspection report.

Partner with the Right Agent to Simplify the Process

The key to a positive home buying experience is preparation. Giving yourself up to 12 months to prepare before starting your home search will make the process much easier. You’ll also find that working with the top Realtor in your community will work in your favor. From beginning the pre-approval process to closing on your new home, the right professionals can simplify your experience.