In efforts to provide general information to the public at large about the home buying process, National Public Radio (NPR) recently did a story on how to buy a house.

NPR opened the story by saying/writing, “The journey to buying a house can lead you down some perilous roads, past pushy real estate agents, self interested bankers (and non-bank lenders) and not so meticulous home inspectors.” ie…buyer beware.

Tapping the expertise of Ilyce Glick, author of 100 Questions Every First-Time Buyer Should Ask, and Elizabeth Dunn, psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, NPR developed a list of tips for first-time home buyers. (Agents, feel free to distribute this list to your potential buyers and clients as a “neutral, non-biased” informational tool and/or check list.)

  1. First and foremost, according to Glick, find a good buyer’s agent. “They have a fiduciary duty to you. This means they have a responsibility to help you do things in the very best way that they can for your benefit.” Glick likens choosing a buyer’s agent to choosing a partner for a short- term marriage.
  2. Make a list of what you need in a home and make another list of what you want in a home. Know that need and want are two separate things. If “you” are a couple, each person of that couple is encouraged to make separate need and want lists to total four lists in all. Dunn, the psychology professor, encourages buyers to look for spaces where family and friends can relax and be together and for spaces that vary with the seasons such as windows, backyards, specific view sights. Dunn cautioned against long commutes as “…they are very negative over time and can create feelings equivalent to becoming unemployed.”
  3. Get preapproved for a mortgage prior to starting your home search. Buyers will know what they can afford and sellers will know they can take you seriously.
  4. Regardless of what a lender tells you that you can afford, plan on a monthly mortgage payment that is no more than one third of you take-home pay. Lenders do not account for childcare costs, health care costs, emergency repairs/fixes, etc. Glick encourages buyers to expect to spend $5,000-$8,000/year for home maintenance even on new homes. If buying a 100-year-old home, Glick said, “Expect buying 100-year old problems…and those can get expensive.”
  5. With the help of your agent, make an offer that reflects the actual worth of the house. Your agent has all the necessary data such as days on the market, comparable pricings, number of views/showings, etc.
  6. Remember there will ALWAYS be another house if/when plans to buy your dream house fall through. Patience is the watchword here.
  7. Get a good, thorough home inspection before you buy. And, if possible, be on site for that inspection to make sure your questions/concerns are answered on the spot.
  8. Glick also suggests that you hire a real estate lawyer to review the mortgage documents before you sign them. Glick said, “It’s not inappropriate to spend $400-$500 on an inspector and $400 on an attorney. This is what goes into making a purchase feel like a safer and solid investment in your future.”