What is my buying power?
carballo/Shutterstock It’s extremely important to go into the home buying process with a realistic expectation of your budget. You don’t want to fall in love with a house, only to realize that you can’t actually afford it when it comes time to pay the down payment. Visiting your bank beforehand is a good start, as your bank will be able to tell you if you qualify for a loan and a mortgage. “Most places require 20 percent down in cash,” says Mitchell Seligman, a licensed real estate salesperson at Halstead. “Visiting your bank and seeing if you’re pre-approved for a loan is the first step in the process.”
Should I use a real estate agent?
Jamesboy Nuchaikong/Shutterstock Technically using an agent to buy a home isn’t required when buying your first home, but it’s definitely someone that you’d want to have on your team to make the already stressful home buying process easier—and the commission comes out of the purchase price, so you don’t pay anything extra. An agent can hook you up with the right mortgage people, guide you into neighborhoods and/or buildings that they know are a good fit, and will help educate you on the property value. They most likely know more than you do about real estate. So should you use an agent? “The answer is definitely yes,” says Seligman. “There’s a lot of things you don’t think of as a first time home buyer.” Check out these 11 shockingly common mistakes most first-time home buyers make.