Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases of your life, which can be somewhat overwhelming. Over the last 5 years we have helped thousands of aspire home buyers to buy their first homes. Here are 10 tips that first-time homebuyers should know before buying a home:

Speak With A Mortgage Expert ASAP

Getting pre-approved for a home loan can be the most intimidating parting of being a first-time homebuyer. But unless you are purchasing a home cash it is important to know what your home loan options will be. A mortgage expert will walk you through what loans are available to you. They will explain to you what mortgage interest you can expect, and how much money you will need for your down payment and closing costs.

First-Time homebuyers speak with a mortgage professional to see what they can afford and what type of home loan works for them.

Take it from us… DO NOT WAIT. To connect to one of our mortgage experts complete our quick 60-Second Buyer Power Approval, no credit pull, questionnaire.

You’ve Save Up Enough Money

Once you speak with a mortgage expert you’ll need to have a savings account with enough money to cover closing costs and inspection fees. In most cases, you’ll need to have a down payment to get a loan; which is a certain percentage based on your loan amount. Your mortgage expert can give you a ballpark figure of all of the out-of-pocket fees you might have once they pinpoint your budget range. However it is important to know that a lot of the inspections & closing costs will be out-of-pocket. Check out our savings tips for first-time homebuyers.

You Have a Good Credit Score
First-time homebuyer researches their current credit score to see if they will be able to buy a home.

Knowing your credit score ahead of time is important. Sites like Credit Karma offer free credit reports. You can also check your mobile bank app, which often includes a snapshot of what your current credit looks like. If you do have small credit issues speak with your mortgage expert and they can make recommendations to improve your credit. Do not try to fix your credit without professional guidance. This could be a waste of time, energy and resources. Connect with a mortgage expert to get a copy of your credit report and create a path to improving.

Have a Good Real Estate Agent

Your choice in agent will have a massive impact in your overall success as a first-time homebuyer. A great real estate agent will make sure you feel comfortable, take you through the steps of home buying and encourage you to ask questions any time you have one. So you either need to know How Interview your real estate agent, check out step by step guide. Or you can be connected with your local Savvy Homebuying expert, who we have vetted for your area.

Once you have selected an agent make sure they know exactly what you’re looking for by making a list of must haves, negotiables, and deal breakers. This list can set the expectations for homes that you want to see.

Consider the Future

Don’t purchase a house to solve a short term problem. You would just be setting yourself to have to move in a couple years. When touring homes consider what life will look like 5-7 years from now. Is this home still be a good fit when your family grows? Will you still enjoy the neighborhood when the new street gets put in? How will the commute feel after a month or two?

Is there anything about this home that would make it difficult to sell or rent in the future if you needed to do so? These are all great tips for first-time homebuyers so you don’t purchase something that only works for you for a short period of time.

Choose the Right Neighborhood

Typically, homebuyers are interested in schools, commute, crime and access to local amenities when choosing the right neighborhood for them. Has the neighborhood had any problems with crime? We highly recommend researching local crime maps to get a better idea of the type of incidents taking place in your favorite neighborhoods.

Is it easy to get to the highway if you have a commute for work? Ask yourself these important questions before you choose the area where you’d like to live.

Plan For Additional Costs 

Here are some recurring costs you will want to factor in when you purchase a new home:

  • Property Taxes
  • Utility Bills
  • Homeowner’s Insurance (possible flood or hurricane insurance if you are in a high-risk area)
  • Mortgage Insurance
  • Home Maintenance
Check Homeowner Insurance Prices 

Insurance prices depend on a number of factors so it’s best to reach out to your insurance company ahead of time or speak to your agent to see if the home is in a high-risk zone. Flood and hurricane insurance is actually required in certain areas, so you may have no choice but to pay higher premiums depending on your location. A great tip for first-time home buyers is to ask your mortgage provider which insurance companies they have seen offer great rates recently. Lenders are at the forefront of these fees and can recommend different places to shop that you may not have considered.

Get A Home Inspections 

We highly recommend that you get your potential new home inspected. A certified home inspector will examine the home and create a detailed report of their findings. The inspection report will provide you with detailed information on the condition of the home and give you an idea of areas that will require your attention or repair in the future. Here is a rundown of problems to look for in the report before buying the home. Often you can negotiate with the seller to handle some of these items before you close on the purchase of the home.

first-time homebuyer meets with home inspector to review their inspection report.

Buy The Home Warranty

Even though inspections will show you existing issues with a home a home warranty can protect you against significant cost in your first year of homeownership. Defense is the new offense! While a home warranty may cost $400-$600 depending on the home it can EASILY pay for its self in the event of 1 MINOR home repair.

In conclusion, buying your first home is an exciting and significant milestone. By following these top 10 tips for first-time homebuyers, you can navigate the process with confidence and make informed decisions. Remember to prioritize your budget, conduct thorough research, seek professional guidance, and stay organized throughout the journey.

With careful planning and preparation, you can find the perfect home that meets your needs and aspirations. Happy house hunting!

As a first-time home buyer, it’s important to to know what problems to look for when a buying a home. Overdue maintenance or lack of proper repairs can lead to big problems in a home. These problems can indicate underlying issues that may lead to costly repairs or impact your overall homeownership experience.

Hire A Certified Home Inspector and Get A Professional Report

It is important to know, that during a typical transaction the buyer will have the ability to hire a home inspector to look at the home. After the inspector has reviewed the condition of the home then they create a detailed report on their findings. All in all, the inspection report will explain the condition on most of the home’s systems and outline any items of concern.

Here are some items to look out for on your inspection report when you’re buying a home:

Structural Integrity

  • Cracks in walls or foundations: These can be indicative of structural problems and potential foundation issues.
  • Sagging or uneven floors: This may suggest underlying structural damage or foundation settlement.
  • Signs of water damage: Water stains or mold growth might signal leaks, poor drainage, or plumbing issues.
A tape measure measures the crack in a concrete slab at a home inspection.

Structural integrity issues can create obstacles with mortgage loan options. It is important to consult your mortgage professional about any concerns about effects the condition will have on financing options.

Electrical and Wiring

A home inspector checks the electric panel to ensure it is up to code.

On average, the cost of upgrading an electrical panel can range from $1,000 to $3,000 or more. While a complete rewiring of an older home can range from $3,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on factors such as the size of the home and the complexity of the electrical system.

  • Outdated electrical systems: Properties with outdated or insufficient electrical systems pose safety hazards and may require costly upgrades.
  • Overloaded circuits: Multiple extension cords or frequent tripping of circuit breakers could indicate an electrical system unable to handle the load.

Plumbing and Drainage

  • Low water pressure: Poor water pressure might be a sign of plumbing problems or old pipes in need of replacement.
  • Leaking pipes: Visible leaks or water stains can indicate plumbing issues, potentially leading to water damage or mold growth.
  • Slow drainage: Slow drains might point to clogged or damaged pipes, which may require professional intervention.
A plumbers tools on top of a toilet suring a home inspection.

Roofing and Insulation

wholes and damage to a roof.

Unfortunately, if a bad roof goes unnoticed it could cost between $5,000–$12,000 for you to replace or repair depending on your area and the size of the roof.

  • Missing or damaged shingles: Damaged or missing shingles can lead to roof leaks and subsequent water damage.
  • Poor insulation: Insufficient insulation can result in higher energy bills and uncomfortable living conditions.

Pests and Infestations

  • Termite damage: The presence of termites or visible signs of termite damage can compromise the structural integrity of the property.
  • Rodent or insect infestations: Infestations can cause damage to the property and pose health risks to inhabitants.
Close of up wood termite damage found at a home inspection.

Some mortgage loans such as the VA Home Loan will require termite remediation clearance prior to closing on the home. Repairs can include tenting, replacing, repainting and resurfacing damage, but this can only happen after an infestation is handled.

Purchasing a home is a big investment, and if you do not know what problems to look for when buying a home it may cost you big. By paying attention to potential structural, electrical, plumbing, roofing, insulation, and pest-related issues, you can make an educated decision in buying the home.

The home-buying process can be daunting for any first-time buyer and it is no different for military families using the VA Home Loan. You will not only juggle finding the right house, but you’re also juggling financing and real estate agents. There is a lot to know, which is why we created our Free Education Program, Savvy Veteran Homebuyer, for you to get all the answers you need about buying your first home with the VA Loan. 

  1. Before you start looking at homes you will need to get pre-approved for your VA Home Loan

You will be required to produce a Certificate of Eligibility which shows that based on your military service you qualify for the VA Loan. If you don’t already have a copy of your COE then your VA Mortgage provider can help you to obtain a copy.

2. Your VA loan will cover 100% of the purchase price, minus any closing costs or fees that are associated with buying a home (i.e., appraisal, title search). 

This means that you will mostly need some cash on hand to purchase your new home. A home inspection, appraisal, and closing costs will be a few of the additional costs that you will want to budget for when planning for your purchase. There are programs such as Pay-it-Forward Home Loans, Powered by USA Mortgage, that can help to alleviate these out-of-pocket expenses as they allow you to wrap them into your closing costs, but you will still want to have cash on hand before you enter into a contract to purchase a home. For more information on exactly how much you will want to budget for these items check out our article about Budgeting For Buying Your First Home.

3. There’s no limit on how much money we’ll lend you! That means if there’s an offer on a $300k house but it needs $50k in repairs, we’ll still give you the full $300k as long as it meets the VA lending guidelines.

VA Lending guidelines ensure that properties are in good condition for a Veteran to purchase. Some of these property requirements include:

  • Mechanical systems must be safe and have reasonable future utility
  • The heating must be adequate
  • Roofing must be adequate
  • Crawl spaces and basements must be dry
  • Property must be free of termites, dry rot, and fungus growth
  • Lead-based paint must be remediated

Ensure that the Real Estate Professional that you are working with understands that you are using your VA Home Loan and limits your home search to properties that will fit the criteria. With the right team, purchasing your home with your VA Home Loan can be a piece of cake! Join Savvy Veteran Homebuyer to learn more about finding the right homebuying team for you.

Did you know that paying your mortgage twice a month vs once can significant cut the cost of your mortgage over time?

Not only does this strategy pay off your mortgage faster and reduce the total amount of interest you pay.

With a traditional monthly mortgage payment, you make 12 payments per year, which is equivalent to paying one extra payment per year. By paying your mortgage every other week, you end up making 26 half-payments, which is the same as 13 full payments per year. This means you are essentially making one extra payment per year, which can help you pay off your mortgage faster and reduce the amount of interest you pay.

For example, let’s say you have a 30-year mortgage with a 4% interest rate and a monthly payment of $1,000. If you continue making monthly payments, you will pay a total of $359,823 in interest over the life of the loan. However, if you switch to biweekly payments, you will pay a total of $317,736 in interest, which is a savings of $42,087.

While the savings may not be significant on a monthly basis, over the life of a 30-year mortgage, the difference can be significant. It’s important to ask your lender HOW to do this properly to not incur any late fees, but once you have an approved plan this is we great way to save in the long run!