There’s a first time for everything—and just about everything is overwhelming the first time. Remember your first time riding a bike? Driving a car? Flying overseas?
Buying your first home is a major milestone, and it’s completely normal to feel intimidated or overwhelmed. But with a bit of preparation and deep breathing, the process doesn’t have to be overly stressful.
Why Buying a Home Can Be Stressful
Your first home is likely to be one of the largest investments of your life. That financial stress paired with the emotional strain of finding a home you like is enough to turn the calmest person into a ball of nerves. With so many moving parts involved in the home-buying process, something is bound to go wrong, and that’s OK. Until the contracts are signed, you can fix 99 percent of mistakes you make along the way.
How to Cope with the Stress of Buying a New House
As with any major life decision, the best way to minimize stress is to do your research and prepare as well as you can. Talk with friends and family, scour the web, meet with a loan officer, and consider attending a first-time homebuyer class. Discussing the process with experts and people who have been there before will help you realize homeownership is achievable. They can also help you avoid making any of the same mistakes they made in the past.
Putting together a trusted team of experts is another way to reduce your worries. If you have a reliable lender, real estate agent, and real estate lawyer on your side during the process, it’s less likely you will make any substantial blunders. A great real estate agent will be able to show you some ideal properties and negotiate skillfully on your behalf. A trusted loan officer can talk you through your options, match you with the best loan, and quickly send over approval letters for any homes you’re interested in purchasing. And although a real estate lawyer is not a requirement in many states, it doesn’t hurt to have one look over any contracts before you sign.
During the home-buying process, control what you can and leave the rest to fate. Make sure you understand everything you sign, put in your best offer, hire a qualified inspector to thoroughly examine the property, and do your due diligence. Once you’ve done everything in your power, relax and distract yourself while you await the verdict on your offer.
First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid
It’s always wise to learn from the mistakes of others and avoid stepping in unnecessary potholes. Here are a few common mistakes made by first-time homebuyers:
- Not shopping around (for everything): To make sure you’re getting the best deal and the highest quality of customer service, it’s wise to shop around for your lender, real estate agent, home insurance, title insurance, and real estate attorney (if you hire one). Interest rates can vary significantly from lender to lender, so you shouldn’t necessarily go with the first one you find.
- Home shopping before getting pre-approved: It would be a huge bummer to find the perfect house and have your offer rejected because you haven’t been approved for financing yet. You should get pre-approved before you start home shopping so you can get an idea of your purchase power and show sellers that you’re a serious buyer.
- Failing to look into first-time homebuyer programs: First-time homebuyer programs and government-backed loans can make homeownership much more achievable. With an FHA loan, for example, you can put as little as 3.5 percent down, and many states offer assistance with down payments, closing costs, and more.
- Foregoing a real estate agent: Foregoing a real estate agent might seem like a good way to save money, but the seller actually pays for the agent’s commission, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. An expert agent can help you find the perfect home and negotiate a fair price.
- Draining your savings: You might be tempted to drain your savings in order to put 20 percent down, but sometimes it’s better to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer option of putting as little as 3 percent down, even if that means you will have to pay for private mortgage insurance.
You can avoid most of these mistakes as you’re searching for your future home by asking plenty of questions throughout the process. Don’t hesitate to use your real estate agent, loan officer, friends, and family as resources. If you’re not sure what a term means, or how to handle a situation, ask.
Calm Your Nerves Through Preparation
You can’t prepare for everything, but you can make the home-buying process more manageable by taking some proactive steps. Discover more tips from loan officers on navigating the first-time home-buying process in our mortgage preparedness e-book.