10 Essential Tips for First-Time Home Buyers in Las Vegas, NV
Buying your first home is exciting, but it can also be incredibly stressful – especially if you’ve never bought a home before and don’t know what to expect. What kind of mortgage should you get? How do you make a compelling offer and close on the house that you want?
To make the process a bit easier, check out these 10 essential first-time home buyer tips to navigate the housing market with less stress and even save some extra money along the way.
- Decide how much you can actually afford
When deciding what kind of home you can afford, you have to consider more than just income. In addition to considering what you make, you have to take current expenses into account as well, including things like car payments and student loan debt. Take advantage of home affordability calculators online and speak with a lender to better understand your options before you start going to open houses and falling in love with homes outside of your price range.
- Choose a home that fits your needs
As far as first-time home buyer tips go, this one seems simple – what do you need in a home? Do you have children, or plan to have children in the near future? But the amount of space you need might be different from the amount of space that you can afford, not to mention maintain over time. If you can live without a backyard, it might be a good idea to consider condos and townhouses as well.
- Location is everything
You’ve probably heard someone say to “choose the worst house in the best neighborhood” before, and it’s not a bad piece of advice. At the end of the day, the community that you live in matters more than if your house has a swimming pool or hardwood floors. You can always build a pool and remove the carpet, but you can’t change an area’s schools, crime rate, or how close you are to the nearest grocery store or shopping center.
- Know your mortgage options
In addition to the traditional 30-year fixed mortgage, first-time home buyers have options that other home buyers don’t. Special loan programs such as an FHA loan, which can lower your down payment to as little as 3.5%, or a Fannie May Home Ready loan program, which can lower your down payment to as little as 3% if you meet certain requirements. These aid programs also tend to accept lower credit scores, so you may be able to qualify for a loan with a score as low as 500. Learn more about hiring a mortgage lender in Las Vegas, here.
- Save for more than just the down payment
Don’t become so focused on saving enough for a down payment that you forget to save extra for closing costs and post-move in expenses. While closing costs vary by state, the national average is somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of the price of the home. So, if a home is $120,000, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2,400 and $6,000 on closing fees. Learn more about saving for a down payment here.
- Improve your credit score
Your credit determines whether or not you’re approved for a home loan, so start raising your credit score now. Pay your bills on time, keep credit card balances low, and try to pay off any debts you owe. Keep in mind that you can’t raise your score overnight, so the sooner you start, the better.
- Consider hiring a Las Vegas real estate agent
If you’re reading first time home buyer tips, it’s safe to say that you could use a little guidance. Hiring a real estate agent can help you find homes within your budget, negotiate with sellers, and complete any necessary paperwork for you.
- Know open house etiquette
It may seem odd that good manners are on a list of first time home buyer tips, but leaving a good impression on the selling agent can make your offer stand out next to the same offer from someone who wasn’t as courteous. While you want to thoroughly inspect the home, you don’t want to snoop – unless the agent has said otherwise, it’s generally a good idea to ask for permission before opening any doors. And while sellers usually aren’t present during an open house, make sure that’s actually the case before you comment on how ugly the paintings in the hall are.
- Make an offer that stands out
One way to stand out to a seller is to write them a personal letter about why you want to live there. Make an emotional appeal – it could be about wanting to send your children to a nearby school or wanting to be closer to an aging grandparent (as long as it’s the truth, of course). They’re human, after all, and we’re all typically inclined to favor people that we feel we can connect with.
Before you make an offer, you should also have a loan preapproval ready to go. The letter is proof that you’ve met all of the requirements and qualify for a home loan. As far as actually making the offer goes, you’ll typically want to offer more than the asking price if the market is competitive. How much more? That depends on a variety of factors, so if you really want to get it right, your best bet is to seek the advice of a local real estate agent.
- Perform a home inspection before you close
Having a home inspection done before you decide to close on a home may seem a bit paranoid, but it’s well worth it in the end. You may think that there’s nothing wrong with the house as you glance around each room, but serious problems can be lurking underneath the surface. Home inspectors examine every aspect of the home, including the roof, foundation, air conditioning, electric, plumbing, and more to make sure that the home is move-in ready. If there are serious problems, you may be able to renegotiate the sales price.
Whether you decide to live in your first home for 5 or 50 years, it’s still important to consider your options carefully so that you can get the best possible deal. We hope that these first-time home buyer tips help to take some of the confusion out of the process and get you one step closer to owning the home that you want at a price that you can afford!