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Four Priorities for Finding Your First Home Faster

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Buying your first home is a very exciting, yet stressful time in your life, even when it’s a good time to buy. Feelings of stress can be compounded if you know you’re ready to buy, but not sure quite what you’re looking for. To help you with the process, here are four top priorities for first-time home buyers embarking on their search.

Location
The location of your home is the one thing you can’t change. Sure, you can move later. But while you’re living in your home, it would be nice to enjoy your neighborhood and surroundings. Consider the location carefully before jumping into negotiations.

When considering the location of your first home, you might start by creating a list of factors to consider. For example, if you have children, would it be beneficial if your new home is close to a good school? You might choose to take a tour of the potential school. If you don’t like the school, it might not be the best choice to move to a home in that area.

Another factor might be whether it’s important to be near your workplace. Some people are just fine with a long commute to and from work every day. Remember to keep in mind the time of day you’d be commuting. Maybe try the drive to see if it’s feasible for you. It’s also important to think about how your location will affect transportation options and cost. A home further away from a city’s hub may be cheaper, but those savings won’t last if you have to spend more money commuting to work every day.

Don’t forget to think about your hobbies and interests too. Is it important to be near recreational areas? Or, maybe you prefer to be closer to shopping and dining. These are things to think about before choosing the location of your new home.

Price
Another important consideration, and this one tends to be the most obvious, is the cost. You need to make sure the houses you’re considering are affordable in relation to your current earnings. Assuming your income rises over time, your home might get more affordable in the future. However, you don’t want to buy a house you can’t afford now on the premise that your income will increase over time. Before you jump into a mortgage loan, consider using an online mortgage calculator to find out just how much your house could end up costing you.

One factor that can impact price is location. A home just a few minutes further away from downtown can result in substantial savings and you’d be able to get more square footage for your money. When you search for a home, keep an open mind about homes just beyond your ideal location. It might be worth the look to save some money.

You should also be willing to negotiate the cost of your new home. The asking price does not have to be the price you pay. Has the home been on the market for a while? If this is the case, you might be able to make an offer lower than the asking price and still purchase the home you want. Talk to a real estate agent you trust before you commit.

Visit UFCU.org/personal/loans/home or give us a call at (512) 997-4663 (HOME) for a free, no-pressure mortgage loan consultation. You can also visit your local financial center anytime to chat with a Personal Financial Representative or apply online now.

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Fixer-Upper or Fully Renovated?
Knowing how much work you can handle in terms of renovations and repairs is important when you’re shopping for your first home. There’s no right answer for everyone, as it really depends on your budget, your taste, your ambition, and your tolerance for a house full of “projects.” If you’re handy, or can afford to pay for upgrades, you might be able to make an offer on a home that isn’t in perfect condition.

There are some things to consider if you’re looking at a fixer-upper. Are the renovations needed structural or simply cosmetic? Structural changes can add up fast, making an affordable home no longer affordable. You should always have the home inspected by a professional, so you have a complete and accurate idea of what you’re getting into. Know what your budget can handle and think about the time it could take to complete any needed renovations. Depending on your situation, you may not be able to wait for projects to be completed before moving into your new home.

Floor Plan
Don’t just look at the square footage of a home. The floor plan is just as important as the overall size. If a home has a good floor plan, you might be able to buy a smaller home that has just as much usable space as a larger home with a poor layout.

When deciding on a floor plan, consider how many people will be living there. If you have children, consider a home with enough space to accommodate all of the “stuff” they require. You might also need some room to grow if you’re thinking about adding to your family in the future.

Do you frequently entertain guests? If so, you might need an open floor plan that flows well from the kitchen to the dining room and the living room. Do your guests stay overnight? If the answer is yes, you might need a guest room.

Ultimately, these four search priorities are not the only things you’ll want to think about when buying your first home. But with careful consideration, you should be able to successfully negotiate the purchase of your first home if you keep all of these factors in mind.