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February 18, 2020

First time homebuyers – Are you ready to begin viewing homes?

You are if you’ve covered these first important steps:

  1. Your finances are in order. You’ve put your credit in good shape, and you’ve saved some money for a down payment, closing costs, and moving in.  Yes, it’s true that some loan programs will get you in with no down payment. And in some cases you can combine that with seller-paid closing costs, so you have zero out of pocket to acquire the house.
  2. But don’t forget that even at that, you will have expenses.  They might be as minor as a gallon of paint, a new doormat, or some shrubs to grace the front yard, but there will be expenses. Yard and lawn care tools, garbage cans (if not provided by the city). Remember also that some utilities may require deposits.
  3. You understand your own budget and your own spending habits. Your lender will tell you what you can spend on an Orlando home based on your income and current debt.  However, he or she has no way of knowing about other non-debt expenditures that are important to you. For instance, you may enjoy attending concerts or eating out once a week. You may spend all year looking forward to a week at the beach or on a ski hill. You may believe your children will be deprived if they can’t spend two weeks each summer at an expensive camp.  Leave room in your budget for these important expenditures, and leave room to set a bit aside each month as a safety net or for future investment.
  4. You’re well aware of the costs of homeownership and you’re prepared for them. Taxes and insurance may be included in your monthly mortgage payment, but you’ll still have utilities, possible HOA fees, maintenance costs, and if your new home is farther from work,  commuting costs beyond what you have now.

You’ve sorted out the difference between your needs and your wants.  You may actually need a set number of bedrooms, space for an office, or a yard for your dogs. Your “want” list will likely be much longer.  Speaking of dogs, if they’re part of your family, make sure your agent is aware of the fact. Some communities do restrict the number and/or size of dogs that are allowed.

Before you begin your search for a home in Orlando, know what your future home must have and don’t bother looking at houses that don’t qualify. From there you can work on finding a home with features you simply want.

You’ve chosen a neighborhood, based on your own research. A house is just one small island in a neighborhood. Make sure you’ll be happy thereby meeting a few of the neighbors, checking the crime statistics, researching the schools, and checking the distance to amenities and services that are important to you. (If you must visit the gym every morning before work, you won’t want to drive 30 miles to get there)!

You’ve chosen an agent to help you find the right home and to guide you through the process. Real estate transactions today can be complicated, so don’t try to go it alone. Remember that it costs the buyer nothing to have representation, so choose an agent who will be your ally from start to finish.

Are you ready to begin your search for a home in Orlando? If so, get in touch. I’d love to help you find that “just right” home, and to protect your interests as you navigate the process from offer to closing.

Cathy Starkweather