Buying your first home? Be ready for a few surprises…
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Like any major life decision, buying your first home (or any home, for that matter!) is filled with plenty of ups, downs and, above all, plenty of surprises. Even the most educated prospective buyer can find himself or herself hitting a few bumps in the road on their path to home ownership—how a buyer tackles them, though, make all the difference. Here’s some surprises we’ve heard from newly-minted suburbanites, and how you can dodge some of these common pitfalls.
The mortgage pre-approval process…for better and for worse…
For the uninitiated, the mortgage pre-approval process can seem terrifying—but with a little preparation, many prospective buyers are shocked to see how quick and easy it really is. Have everything together when you have that lender call—recent paystubs, two years of tax returns, investment statements, bank account information—and the pre-approval process can, literally, take a few minutes from the time the paperwork is received. You could, likely, apply and be pre-approved on Friday, and be shopping for houses on Saturday…
On the flip side, the amount of information required can be a shock to the unprepared system. Be sure you take a few days to pull what you need from your bank’s website, investment sites and, even, your payroll system—and be sure you have your last two tax returns on hand—and getting this all-important approval will be a breeze.
Taxes can seriously impact your buying ability
The taxes in the NYC suburbs vary wildly, from under 1% to 3% or more—and the difference can be staggering when it comes to buying power. A $900,000 home, for example, with 3% property taxes versus 1% property taxes can be close to $1,500 per month. That’s the equivalent of taking on an extra $300,000 on your mortgage!
“Move-in ready” still needs some heavy lifting…
It could be a faulty washing machine, a lawn that needs some serious TLC or pesky leak keeping you up at night—chances are even the most move-in ready homes need a little love on day one. And, even if everything’s in good working order from “go,” chances are you’ll have to tackle a repair, a refresh or two over those first few weeks. Be prepared—remember, there’s no super to call—and be sure you’ve got both an emergency fund and some basic tools to handle whatever arises.
That you just KNOW
We’re often asked the same question by prospective buyers: how will I know THIS is my house?The answer is simple: you just will. Even if it’s the first house on your hit list, you’ve seen plenty of homes in your day—where you and your spouse grew up, where your friends and loved ones live now—and probably have some thoughts about what you’re looking for. But when you’re actually in THE home, you know. Sometimes it’s the house you’ve had in your mind for years, other times it’s something completely surprising and out of character—you thought it had to be a center hall colonial, but you fall in love with a raised ranch.
A caveat here: if you do find the house and your offer isn’t accepted, don’t lose heart. There are plenty of fish in the suburban real estate sea, and you’ll no doubt find something that’s just as good—or, likely, even better—if that first dream home falls through.
Remember, this is new to you and, chances are, you’ll have a few highs and lows before the keys are handed over. Roll with the punches, work with reputable professionals you trust and, above all, laugh a little (or a lot…). This is the first step in the rest of your suburban life, and the more positive and upbeat you and your family can stay during the process, the better you’ll be in the short- and long-term. Happy house hunting!
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