Are you ready to make the transition from renting to buying your first home? Purchasing a home in Guilderland NY is both and exciting and nerve-wracking experience. For first-time homebuyers it can be difficult to know exactly what to expect and how to properly navigate through the entire process. While the learning curve can be steep, doing your homework before starting your home search for the perfect Upstate NY home can help prevent a home buying mishap.

Evaluate Your Credit

If you do not know what kind of shape your credit is in, you need to find out fast. You can request a free credit report every 12 months from each of the major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Be sure to request all three as they may be slightly different. Make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a house loan. If you credit is not where you would like it, take steps now to bring your credit score up. A better credit score will typically earn you better mortgage rates.

Analyze Your Finances

Be honest with how much you currently spend, and how much of a mortgage you can comfortably afford. When looking at your finances consider all of your current and future bills. Contact utility companies in the area you are looking to buy and see what the going rates are. Be sure to budget for gas, groceries, and other miscellaneous expenses. Are you planning on buying a dog shortly after the house? How about increased commute times? Are you planning on having children? Make sure you are realistic about your future plans and what those will cost now. The worst thing you can do is overspend on a house and then realize you have no money to do the things you want to do.

Pre-Qualify for a Mortgage

First time home buyers should get pre-approved before they start their house search. There are many benefits to getting this step out of the way early on in the home buying process. First, it will let you know how much you have to spend on a house so you don’t waste time looking at houses you can’t afford. Also, home buyers with pre-approved mortgages are taken more seriously by home owners and real estate agents. Be sure you research lenders first and compare. Reputable mortgage lenders will usually walk you through the entire loan pre-approval process before you need to submit an application.

Research Grants & Other Sources of Funding

Many mortgage loans are tailored for first time homebuyers. There are also other sources of funding out there for home buyers. Be sure to do your research, even if you think you will not qualify for anything based on your income. There are many grants and other funding options that are based on profession or area of the potential house that you may qualify for.

Set Money Aside for Closing Costs and Other Misc. Expenses

When you are saving up for your first house, be sure to also set aside money for closing costs and other miscellaneous expenses such as home inspections. These costs can easily be overlooked and leave new homeowners financially stressed. Preparing for the unexpected ahead of time can ensure that you can enjoy your new home worry-free.

Write a Need vs. Wants List

When you start looking at houses it can be easy to let your emotions get in the way of rational thinking. Be sure to sit down with your significant other and create a list of must haves and wants. Perhaps you work in downtown Albany and don’t want a commute over 20 minutes. Consider what you like/dislike about your current set-up. Is the kitchen too small? Not enough storage space? Maybe you prefer an open floor plan. Be sure to also think long term when you are creating this list. Are you planning on having kids? If so the number of bedrooms and a good school district would be considered a need. Whereas granite counter tops in the kitchen or a house with a view may be a want.

Enlist the help of a Real Estate Professional

Once you have your finances in order, are pre-approved, and are armed with your list of needs and wants, it is time to enlist the help of a local real estate professional. Using a real estate agent familiar with the Capital District region will know which neighborhoods have the best school districts, which areas are up-and-coming, and what the area’s housing market looks like. Searching for a house takes a lot of time and expertise. Unless you have the time to take on an additional “part time job” house hunting, using a trusted real estate agent is the way to go. A licensed agent will get to know you and your desires and work tirelessly to find you the perfect home so you don’t have to. When you are ready to purchase you can be assured that your agent is capable of handling the revisions and requests to the contract in order to negotiate the best possible price for you.

Look Beyond the Staging

When your agent starts showing you houses, be sure to look beyond the staging. Sellers put a lot of time and effort into staging the home to highlight its strengths and conceal its weaknesses. Sometimes the house’s décor is just not to your taste. Don’t let that affect your decision. Pay attention to the layout of the house and structure, not things that can be easily changed like bad wallpaper and paint. Also be sure to look at the technical aspects of the house. Is there enough closets and storage space? Are there outlets where you would expect them? You’d be surprised how many homes have bedrooms staged with end tables and lamps but don’t have outlets to plug them in.

Buying a house in the Guilderland, NY area does not have to be a scary process. With the proper planning and the help of a professional, buying your first house can be a fun and exciting process. If you are ready to make the leap into the home of your dreams, contact CM Fox Real Estate. Our agents are experienced in helping first time home buyers in purchasing their dream home in the Capital District. Contact us today to get started.