Buying your first home is exciting. Chances are, you've probably already had a lot of great home-buying advice, such as put 20 percent of the asking price down on your mortgage and to buy a home that's within your financial means. While statements like that are great advice, there is more to buying your first house than the selling price, down payment, and your credit score. So, before you begin the buying process, take these three things into consideration.
Research the Neighborhood Demographics
The area that you choose to live in is just as important as the actual house. Before you put an offer on a house you need to get a good feel for the neighborhood. Walking through the neighborhood and talking to people is a great way to determine the vibe of a neighborhood. A few things to remember include:
- It's important to know whether the neighborhood is filled with homeowners or renters. There isn't anything wrong with renting a house, but if you purchase a home in a neighborhood that mostly filled with rentals, you're taking a higher risk. A few bad landlords or renters can drive a neighborhood down fast, which in the long run could lower the value of your house. So, as you walk, look for "For Sale" or "For Rent" signs as you walk past houses and ask people that you see outside if there are a lot of rentals in the area.
- You should find out whether there are a lot of children in the neighborhood. If so, find out the average age range. If you already have children, you might want to choose a home in a neighborhood that has kids close to their ages. If you're planning to start a family soon, you might opt with a neighborhood that's filled with younger couples. Alternatively, if you don't plan to have children, you might want to find a neighborhood that isn't filled with little ones.
- Take the time to research the crime rates in the area to determine whether the neighborhood is safe -- you can look online, contact the local police department, or ask your home insurance company for statistics. You can also drive through the neighborhood in the evening to see if other residents are comfortable taking walks at night. This is especially important if you've come across a home that is priced extremely low. If there isn't anything wrong with the house, it could be that there are problems with the neighborhood.
Understand Your Insurance Policy
Your mortgage company will require you to have homeowner's insurance in place before you close on the house. While talking to agents and going over policy quote may be tedious work, it's really important that you pay attention to the details of your quote. Many home insurance policy cover losses from named perils, such as theft, fire, windstorms, and vandalism. However, all homeowner's policies are different so it's important that you ask the agent exactly what type of losses are covered. A few things your should consider include:
- You might need to purchase additional hurricane coverage if you live in area where hurricanes are possible.
- Check to see if your policy covers losses from floods. Many policies don't, and purchasing a cheap flood policy might be a good idea.
- You need to know the amount of your deductible and premium. You should make sure that your deductible is an amount that you can afford in the event of a loss because it's your out-of-pocket expense.
Consider All of Your Expenses
Determining how much money you can afford to spend on a house isn't difficult as long as you take all of your expenses into consideration. Yes, you'll have your mortgage, homeowner's insurance, and property taxes, but you also need to think about:
- The utility bills for the home.
- Any additional transportation costs after you move.
- The cost of any upgrades that the house may need.
Don't let the process of buying a home become stressful. Buying your first house is supposed to be fun. Just take your time; learn as much as you can about different neighborhoods and how homeowner's insurance works; and don't settle. It won't be long before you find the house that you want to buy. Contact a local provider, such as The Blondin Agency Inc - Nationwide Insurance, for further assistance.