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It’s true that a home is more than just a house. But the house is where it starts. Purchasing the first house can fill buyers with more panic than swimming with sharks, and no wonder: it is usually the biggest investment of your life! Not everyone is new at the game, however, and here’s a compilation of tips from experts on how to successfully buy your first home.


Look at More than the Mortgage

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{Paint Color: “Sherwin Williams Softer Tan”}

Just because you can afford the mortgage payments each month does not mean that you can afford to buy a house. Owning a home carries more hidden costs than traveling to Vegas. Besides the mortgage payment, monthly costs will now include higher electric and water bills, maintenance, property insurance, and property taxes. Make sure it’s within your budget.

If you can stack all that, start looking for a loan.


Loan First, Shop Second

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{Paint Color: “Benjamin Moore Blue Lace 1625”.}

Although it’s tempting to rush out to open houses in your dream neighborhood, it’s smarter to get pre-approved for a loan first before shopping—unless you’re lucky enough to be able to pay with cash. Note that being pre-approved for a loan means more to a potential seller than just being pre-qualified. Anyone off the street can get pre-qualified. Pre-approved, however, means a lender has examined your financial situation and officially estimated how much you can afford.

And watch out: they really do examine your financial situation. Collecting financial documents and sticking them all in one folder is a great first step to looking for loans. Hunt down your W2 statements, federal tax returns for the last two years, bank statements for the last few months, recent pay stubs, and proof of investment income. Then do a little digging about who’s the best lender—check out both your local bank or credit union and online lenders.

One warning: a pre-approved loan is not the same as actually getting the loan. Think of it as getting engaged: both you and the lender are committed, but until the “marriage” actually happens, there is no money on the table.

Once you’re armed with a pre-approved loan, you’re ready for a realtor.


Sit Back and Watch T.V.

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HGTV, that is. If you’re not a fan, become one. The shows are over-the-top, but it gives you an idea of the kind of pitfalls starry-eyed virgins encounter when buying their first home. If you’re buying with a partner, have a thorough conversation about preferences vs. needs, dreams vs. non-negotiables. Housing and Urban Development created a guide to help with the conversation. And while you’re on their website, print out this invaluable pros & cons checklist to bring along to each potential home you visit.


Keep Calm and Research On

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The internet is your best friend in your house hunt. Use online locators to shop for houses in your target area, whether that’s Sienna Plantation or the Bakken Oil Field. Research online what other houses in the area sell for with sites like Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com. Find out the age of both the house and the neighborhood. Once your offer on a house is accepted, never neglect having the house inspected. It’s usually a good idea to be present for the inspection and ask the expert any questions you may have about the house.


Scout the Neighborhood

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Unfortunately, you can’t do everything on the internet. Make sure to check carefully your wannabe neighborhood. Even if it’s your dream house, it might be your nightmare neighborhood. Is there constant traffic? Do the neighbors throw loud parties every weekend? Do kids feel safe playing in their driveways? Hunt down the nearest grocery store and gas station. Try commuting to work from the house to see if it’s manageable.

Also check what school district the neighborhood is in, even if you don’t have a family. A good school district will up the value of the houses in the district. If it’s a bad school district, it may inhibit your chances of selling again.

"Sherwin Williams Worldly Grey SW7043".. #SherwinWilliamsWorldlyGrey #SW7043

Exterior Paint Color: “Sherwin Williams Worldly Grey SW7043”.


Many thanks to the designer for sharing the details above!

Sources: 1: Lencioni Construction. 2: Linda McDougald Design. 3: Jennifer Pacca Interiors. 4: Arcanum Architecture. 5: Architects & Building Designers. 6: Tongue & Groove Design-Build Firms.

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4 Comments to 'Tips to Consider When Purchasing Your First Home'

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  1. Petra said,

    Mostly I’ve let my heart rule my head :/ which hasn’t always worked but from now on it’s practicality all the way 😉

  2. Pattie C said,

    Being able to envision what a house can be will help with your house hunt. We bought a 1971 split and nothing had been done since the day it was finished but after changing nearly every surface of all 3000 sq. ft. we are on our way to the house of our dreams.

  3. Monica said,

    Gosh!! I so wish I had you when I purchased my 3rd home. Still mistakes but better than the other buys. You are right about checking school districts. My house sits one house before a stop sign i had NO idea since i moved from another state that the houses across the street went to entirely different district. i had never heard of a street with in a neighborhood could be divided this way ….was not happy.

  4. franki said,

    IF at ALL possible…visit “your location” at different hours of the day AND week. You might be surprised (pleasantly, I hope!) franki

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