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Buying your first house is a great experience. For many it is part of the overall American dream. But with anything new, mistakes can happen in the process. The good news is most of these can be avoided, as long as you know what they are. Here are some of the most common mistakes first time home buyers make.

Financial Mistakes

Home ownership is a significant financial commitment, so it’s not surprising that many first time homebuyer mistakes are related to finances.

1.Skipping pre-approval: The first mistake is starting to look for a house before applying for pre-approval on a mortgage. Pre-approval is when a loan officer assesses the financial situation of a potential buyer – income, debts, credit score, etc. – and provides a dollar range of houses you can afford. There are two primary benefits to the pre-approval process. First, it provides a realistic range on exactly how much you can afford, allowing you to narrow down your home search and ensuring you don’t kick off your hunt with unrealistic expectations.

In many competitive markets, only pre-approved homebuyers are eligible to apply for available homes. Getting pre-approved is a very important step in the home buying process and signals to sellers and real estate agents that you’re a serious buyer.

2.Not shopping around with rates and lenders: Another common financial mistake first time home buyers often make is not considering their options when it comes to lenders. Experts suggest talking to at least three lenders as well as a mortgage broker to ensure you are getting a good deal and the lowest rate possible. And it’s not all about the money, either. Be sure to ask about ongoing customer service after you take out the mortgage with that lender to ensure you’ll have continued support along the way.

3.Going all-in on the down payment: Another common financial mistake first time home buyers make is draining their savings to make the 20 percent down payment. The stretch may be financially responsible in theory. After all, putting down 20 percent means buyers do not have to pay mortgage insurance with a conventional loan. However, draining your savings to make the down payment puts you at financial risk down the road. Not only is living paycheck-to-paycheck stressful, but it leaves very little room for emergency home repairs that may pop up after you move in. Try to have three to six months living expenses in addition to the down payment before buying your first house.

Luckily, first time home buyers often aren’t expected to put 20 percent down. Special programs like FHA, VA and USDA loans (for those who qualify) lower the threshold for upfront payments to make home ownership more attainable. FHA loans reduce the down payment amount and credit score needed to qualify. If you are an active-duty or veteran military service member, a VA loan may not require a down payment at all. USDA loans, on the other hand, help lower income borrowers in rural areas and require lower or no down payment.

When it comes to finances and home ownership, there’s certainly a lot to consider. Just remember: you’re not on your own. Your mortgage lender should make you aware of the options available to you and provide insight on how you can get the best deal for your financial needs.

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Emotional-Based Decisions

Money aside, buying your first house is an emotional experience. On one hand, you have the joy and satisfaction of home ownership, creating a space that is truly yours to make memories for you and your family. On the other hand, making one of the largest financial investments of your life comes with a fair share of stress. Making a purely emotional decision can lead to overpaying for a house and stretching your budget too far.

This often occurs when buyers fixate on the house and not the neighborhood, and end up in a home you love in a neighborhood you don’t enjoy. Before making an offer on any home, be sure to research the neighborhood, crime stats, and school ratings, and consider logistical factors like commute time and proximity to places you frequently visit.

Another emotion-based first home buyer mistake is simply moving too fast. The thrill of being a homeowner can cause you to rush the process and miss key elements like repairing poor credit, saving enough money, or settling on a house you don’t really love. Of course, waiting for the perfect house may lead to frustration, an extended purchasing timeframe, and overpaying for a house. Plan on the process of buying your first home taking about a year.

Enjoy the Journey

With the common mistakes first time home buyers make in mind, it’s also important to remember to enjoy the journey. Buying your first home is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, full of excitement and possibility. Along the way, your home buying wish list may change, a neighborhood may not be the right fit for you and your family, or you may find the perfect community in a place you would never expect.

Wherever the road to homeownership takes you, there’s always opportunity to learn, grow, and have fun. If you still aren’t sure where to get started, get to know the family-friendly amenities, excellent school systems, and available new homes that make Bluewood such a wonderful place to live. Connect with a real estate expert today.

While many home searches start online these days, it can quickly become overwhelming with so many options, videos, photos, and virtual home tours.  At the same time, it can be a very efficient way to find your next home. Plus, sitting back on your couch with online home tours can help narrow down the communities you visit in-person. Here are a few tips to make your online home search experience efficient in order to find your new home.

Before You Start Your Online House Search

Before you begin your home search you should know two things: budget and must-haves.

While this is also true for any type of home search, it is so much more important with online house searching since the quantity of available inventory, various floor plans, available upgrades and more can become easily overwhelming.

Budget is an essential part of making your online home search effective. By knowing your budget, you can stay focused on homes you can afford. You can utilize the price filter tool on the website to help save time and give you better search results.

Use Filters to Narrow Your Online Home Search

Now that you know your budget and must-haves, use them as filters to narrow down your search. In the beginning, focus on the big elements like price, bedrooms and bathrooms. This may produce quite a few options, but will allow you to see the amenities that typically come in your price point. Once you have an idea of what other must-haves fit within your price range, you can begin to narrow down your search using more detailed filters.

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Viewing Homes Online

There can be several options to view the home online. At Bluewood, homebuyers can view homes through various image and video galleries, virtual walk-throughs, download Bluewood’s curated floor plans, as well as view new home inventory listings. Some of the virtual walk-throughs include measuring capabilities as well, which is a great feature to see how existing furniture may fit into your new home.

In addition to the image galleries and walk-throughs, home listings include a detailed description of the home and its amenities. This may include information about the community, on-site and local schools, nearby shopping, transportation, parks and recreation areas, churches, and entertainment centers. Bluewood’s website includes details about all onsite amenities as well as the surrounding community.

Lastly, most listings have the precise address and builder name so you can easily navigate your in-person experience when you go to the community. All listings have the option to request more information and can be a helpful tool if you have a quick question for the sales counselor.

Moving to the Next Step: In-Person Visits

Once you’ve completed your online home search, it’s time to visit your top picks in person. At Bluewood, our model homes are open daily, so contact us to schedule an appointment today!

What Do I Need to Buy a House: The Essentials of Planning to Purchase a Home

It seems like the real estate market is constantly changing. Between applying for a loan, contacting a real estate agent, and looking for your dream home in the perfect neighborhood, the process of planning to purchase a home can be an overwhelming task without any clear direction of where to even begin.

The usual first question families have when planning to purchase a house is “What do I need to buy a house?” The good news is that by asking the question, you have started off on the right foot. Purchasing a home involves many different tasks and decisions, but most importantly, it requires thorough planning.

Planning to Purchase a Home

Before you even start looking at homes for sale, it’s very important to come up with a full plan. Start by creating a budget to determine what size house you can afford. This can help you begin planning to purchase a house and keep you organized and focused through the process. It can be easy to get ahead of yourself looking at all of the homes currently on the market, and understanding your budget will narrow everything down.

While determining the size of the home you can afford, it’s also important to think about the type of home you need based on family size and lifestyle. The home buying journey for a family looking for their first home will be a different search compared to a growing family or one transitioning into a multi-generational home. You will want to think as long term as you can when determining the home you plan to purchase.

Next, establish your necessary down payment. Based on your budget, you will know the price range you can afford.

  • Estimate that you will need between 3.5% to 20% of the purchase price, in cash, as your down payment.
  • The down payment amount can vary depending on the mortgage loan type you are securing:
    • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans require as little as 3.5%
    • Conventional loans require up to 20%

Working with a lender to be pre-approved for a mortgage helps specify the down payment you need. Plus, being pre-approved also shows your seriousness about purchasing.

Financing Secured, Now What?

With financing figured out some of the fun can start. You will need to make decisions about what you are looking for in a home, neighborhood, schools, etc. The question of “What do I need to buy a house?” can now change to “What do I want in the house I buy?”

In planning to purchase a home, you should think long term so you and your family can grow and be comfortable for years to come. It may also be helpful to consider looking into multi-generational homes, taking into account aging parents, or young adult children staying at home longer.

 

We suggest making a list of things you must have in the house you purchase such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size of the backyard, and any other home amenities that are important to you and your family. Make a second list of things you want in your neighborhood, including a pool, biking and hiking trails, parks, and what should be in your community including shopping, health care providers and facilities, sports and recreational areas.

Find Your Home

You first asked yourself, “What do I need to buy a house” and then you went through the process of planning to purchase a house. Now, you actually get to view available homes for sale that meet your budget and needs.

From virtual tours to private showings and open houses, touring and seeing all the options, you’ll start to envision your future in the various homes and the happiness you’ll share as you start a family or grow your family into a multi-generational home. Take notes as you view the houses, what you liked, disliked, or would want to change. Depending on how many homes you look at, they may start to blend together, but detailed notes can help overcome that.

From here, lean on the professionals in the real estate field, like real estate agents, mortgage lenders, builders, home inspectors, lawyers, and title companies to help guide you through the nitty-gritty parts of the process. You don’t need to go at it alone. Planning to purchase a house when you’re ready to start a family or finding the multi-generational home of your dreams should be enjoyable and exciting!

There are things we can do to protect our homes and families. Insurance, smart security devices, regular maintenance and check-ups, and much more. We live more peacefully knowing that we’re protecting the things we work hard for and love and weather protection for your home is a big way to do exactly that. This is especially true for Texas homes, where hot weather protection is vital to maintaining a beautiful house and keeping it cool.

Late winter and early spring are the best times to inspect, perform routine maintenance or make any necessary upgrades and repairs to keep your home protected from the heat. This also helps protect you and your family from suffering through the heat of the summer or from a preventable issue popping up.

How to Weatherproof Your Home

Remember, home maintenance is important throughout the year and you should inspect all major areas of your house and property. Staying up-to-date with maintenance is the best way to avoid big, disruptive and potentially expensive issues.

Service Your Air Conditioner

Avoid a break down in the summer heat, and have your air conditioner inspected, cleaned and any repairs made early in the season. Nothing is as essential to hot weather protection as a functioning air conditioner, so be sure to put it at the top of your weather protection list.

Inspect Your Windows and Doors

Inspecting your windows and doors is good for all kinds of weather protection. For hot weather areas, hot air leaking in from window or door frames is a common problem. This is usually due to caulking that may be old and cracked in the frame, or a frame becoming loose over time. Check and repair the caulk in all the window and door frames and make sure all frames are in good condition and properly fitting. Finally, consider your window coverings. Invest in good drapes, blinds or shades, particularly with windows with a Western exposure that take on the afternoon sun.

Insulate Your Attic

For home weather protection in any climate, properly insulating the attic is important. Having proper insulation in the attic is a key in fighting off the heat. If your attic is already insulated, make sure the insulation is adequate, and has no holes or bare areas. Deterioration is common with older insulation, so be sure to check yours for any signs of degradation.

Upgrade Your Thermostat

Upgrading your thermostat to a programmable model allows you to use your air conditioner when you are home and helps you plan your air conditioning schedule according to the seasons. Keeping your home on a proper air conditioning schedule is essential, is essential to saving energy and money.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

You can incorporate easy weather protection by using nature to help protect your home. By strategically placing trees and shady shrubs to protect your home from the heat of the sun, you can make your yard look like a natural sanctuary, and reap the cost-savings benefits of regulating your home’s temperature without exhausting your air conditioner. Plus, it will look great and provide shade for your family to enjoy the outdoors.

Waterproof Your House

Remember, heat and humidity bring thunderstorms, and increases the risk of flooding. Seal any cracks or leaks, have your roof and check your gutters. After the first major storm of the season, recheck to make sure there are no new leaks. Water is one of the most destructive forces to homes, so protecting your home from potential storm damage is essential.

Hire Experts

If you are not handy, new to the area and unfamiliar with the weather, or can’t devote the time to the maintenance, then hire an expert who knows how to weatherproof your home.

Weather protection for your home may take time, energy and money, but in the long run it will protect your home and family, and help reduce any chance of encountering a major, expensive repair.