By Jennifer Vick, Keller Williams Ballantyne-Area Broker
Buying your first home can be an exciting, and sometimes overwhelming, milestone. Being prepared and following a few important steps can help the process go smoothly and make it a great experience you’ll always remember. Here are a few important items to keep in mind when considering making your first home purchase.
The first and most important thing you can do is connect with a real estate professional. A real estate agent is going to help you through the process from beginning your home search to well after you get the keys to your new home. An agent is going to keep you ahead of the game in knowing what is on the market, how to be competitive, and negotiation tactics that get you the best price and terms. A great real estate agent will also be able to connect you with trusted vendors that you will need throughout the homebuying process and beyond. The best way to find a real estate professional is by asking your friends, family, and coworkers for recommendations. I recommend speaking with a few agents before making a decision, allowing you to find one you feel comfortable working very closely with since this is a relationship that involves a lot of communication and trust.
Before you begin looking at homes, you also need to determine what price point you can afford. Ask your real estate agent to refer a few lenders they have a great relationship with. You’ll want to make sure you have a lender that is easy to get in contact with when you have questions and that takes the time to explain each step of the process, as well as the expenses involved. Once you make that connection, talk about what your monthly budget looks like because this may greatly impact what you can qualify for. No one wants to be house poor! Meaning, you want to consider your entire lifestyle when making this purchase – trips you like to go on, hobbies you enjoy, and other monthly expenses – because most buyers want to continue these activities while owning a home.
Once you know what you can afford and how much of a down payment you need, it’s time to start thinking about the type of home you would like to buy as there are many factors to consider: How big is your family? What neighborhoods are you willing to consider? Are schools a factor? Do you prefer a single-family home, a condo, or a townhome?
For some home buyers, living in a specific neighborhood takes precedence above all else, whereas for others, the home itself is more important. In a perfect world, you would find the ideal home, in your neighborhood of choice, at a price you can afford, but realistically, most people will have to make some compromises. It’s best to start compiling a list of your must-haves and consider the things you can do without before you start looking at homes. Make sure that all decisionmakers involved are on board. Thinking through these details ahead of time will make your home search so much easier for you and your agent.
Finally, I recommend familiarizing yourself with areas and neighborhoods you like and dislike. Consider how long your drive time will be to and from work. Also think about what restaurants, shops, and other businesses are nearby. It’s helpful to drive through neighborhoods at different times of day to check out traffic, noise, and activity level. This is a great way to help you manage your time if you drive by homes of interest before touring them, that way you know if you are even interested in the area.
Now that you know how much home you can afford, what you’ll need for your down payment, the type of home you want, and what neighborhoods you’re open to, you’re ready for the fun part! It’s time to find the right home. Having done your research ahead of time will make house hunting so much easier, and with the right professionals supporting you, you’ll likely be able to find a great home in less time.
Born and raised in Greenville, SC, Jennifer moved to Charlotte in 2000 after graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in Education. As an elementary school teacher with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, she took pride in her ability to manage multiple daily tasks and challenges associated with education all while building life-long relationships with her colleagues, students, and parents. She has brought that same tenacity to the real estate business since 2007.
As business continued to grow through consistent referrals from past clients, Jennifer was given the honor and opportunity to acquire and assist the clientele of three other Realtors® leaving the Charlotte region. She knew the best way to give superior client service was to form a team of talented people who also have a focus on service and care- hence the beginning of Jennifer Vick & Co. in 2015. Not only does the team at Jennifer Vick & Co. have extensive knowledge of local schools and neighborhoods, they believe in the importance of educating clients in each step of the home buying or selling process through constant communication and guidance, as well as always being a resource for anything they should need, even after the move. Jennifer Vick & Co. brings their company motto, “Connecting the Dots in Real Estate” to practical use in everything they do.