Buying a new home can be a huge, complex undertaking, especially when it’s your first time. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced real estate agent guiding you along the way. In a survey conducted earlier this year by Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services (PRERS), a Prudential Financial, Inc. [NYSE:PRU] company, 75% of respondents highlighted the importance of real estate agents in the process of buying or selling their home, with only 24% saying agents are helpful but not imperative. “Americans continue to see real estate agents as having a very important role in helping them price, buy and sell their homes,” said James Mallozzi, PRERS’ chairman and chief executive officer. “Although the data underscores the value real estate agents provide, it also shows that the industry needs to continue to work hard to meet clients’ unique needs.”
First-time buyers need to look at their financial situation and crunch the numbers to see if this is the right time to buy. Chances are the numbers they see today will be the best they will see for some time, which is why so many are considering homeownership. Still, understanding the money that goes into a home purchase is important. The biggest mistake new buyers make is underestimating the costs of buying a house and maintaining it over time. Homebuying requires more than a down payment as closing costs and future expenses will figure prominently. Many experts agree that homeowners should have 1%-3% of their homes’ purchase price in savings for improvements and surprise expenses. Mortgage experts also say it’s wise to have at least six mortgage payments in the bank after a closing. While those numbers may not be feasible for everyone, if you are spending above your means on a new home, you may find yourself in financial trouble fast. Inspections are important for the first-time buyer, as they list repairs that will be needed for the home.
A buyer should put together a short-term and long-term plan based on the inspection so they know how much money they will need in the months and years ahead. As renters, people are accustomed to paying rent and basic utilities. As homeowners, you’ll also pay for water, sewer and trash collection. Then there are property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and homeowner’s association dues, plus yard care, snow removal and other expenses unique to your location. To be sure, buying a home is one of the largest investments you’ll make and when done wisely, it can be one of the best decisions of your life. Your real estate agent will help each step of the way, first helping you establish a realistic price point for your home purchase and a clear understanding of your monthly expenses.