First things first-do not commit until you are ready.
Owning a home is one of the biggest decisions you may ever make so do not make it lightly. Know what to expect financially. For example: your monthly mortgage payment may be cheaper than your current monthly rent but there are other fees to consider like property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, HOA fees, and maintenance.
Money down is always a good idea.
There are loan options that do not require a down payment, but if you can and are able to make some sort of down payment, do it. It minimizes risk on your end and begins to build equity which is one of the main reasons for even owning a home anyway right?
If you do qualify for great loans, do not spend every dollar you qualify for.
Be willing to come down a little in your price range once you have secured financing and use the rest of your funds toward renovation or decorating. You can also lock in a better interest rate this way.
Find smart money.
Most cities offer first time home buyer loan programs. There are also non-profits that have agreements with several lenders to give first time buyers affordable loans. Banks are not the only way to go! Lots of opportunities are out there you just have to look for them.
Always check out the schools in the area even if you do not have kids.
School performance affects housing values. If you choose a neighborhood with a high performing school, your home is likely to resale at a greater price.
Check the building plans for the neighborhood.
You may have found your dream house on a quiet street but then find out two years later that the city had planned to build a playground or ballpark. You then could be stuck hearing cheers and loudspeakers every weekend.
Do not overlook landscaping.
Curated lawns and flower beds are excellent ways to draw in buyers but consider the upkeep once the house is yours. On the other hand, if you find a house that has “lots of potential” be sure to factor in those extra costs. It may be worth finding a house with the amenities and lawn that you want then trying to fix up one.