The Best Advice for First-Time Homebuyers

first time homebuyers
FILE PHOTO Renown architect John Randall McDonald designed and built this home on Russet Street in Manree Park.

Buying your first home can be quite a challenge. That’s why we’ve assembled a list of our best advice for first-time homebuyers to help you make the big move.

Befriend a Lender

Mortgages are incredibly complicated. Seeking loans online may seem simple, but it’s not effective. A local lender can streamline your process, answer your questions, and make you look like a better choice to sellers and realtors alike.

Use a Trusted Real Estate Agent

You may think it’s not worth the extra money, but a realtor can make or break your home buying process. Not only can they provide excellent advice for first-time homebuyers, but they’ll also negotiate on your behalf for anything from the purchase price to home inspection procedures.

Know What You Can Afford

This is one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make. There are multiple options when it comes to financing your first home, and that’s why we recommend gathering information and consulting with a lender before you start searching for homes. This will help you identify what you can afford. Be sure to consider your mortgage costs, monthly expenses, and long-term financial goals. Be sure to budget in costs for home inspection, homeowner’s insurance, and closing costs. Depending on the situation, you may also want to budget for things like painting, furnishings, repairs and renovations.

Get Pre-Approved

This is one of the most important first-time homebuyer tips we can give you. Getting pre-approved is important for a variety of reasons, with the main one being that it shows sellers you’re solid with your finances. Pre-approval could provide you with the ultimate advantage when there are multiple bids on a house. Work with a lender and complete a loan application as soon as possible.

Start Saving for a Down Payment Early

You may have heard that it’s crucial to save enough for a 20% down payment on your first home. That’s a great goal, but not realistic for everyone. The best thing to do is to save as much as possible, as it will help you keep lower interest rates, and could possibly keep you from paying private mortgage insurance. Try using a mortgage calculator to get an idea of where you stand.

You’re going to receive mounds of standard home buying contracts. Don’t assume that they can’t be changed; contracts are meant to be negotiated. A savvy realtor can help you navigate the terms and edit them to fit your own preferences.

Get It All in Writing

Unless an agreement is in writing, it may as well not exist. If you make a verbal deal, be sure to talk to your attorney and get all contingencies put in writing. This is also what you’ll want to do with any issues that come up during the home inspection. The last thing you want is to be responsible for damages that the previous owner should have handled.

Buy for the Life You Want

Consider your long-term plans before settling on the idea of what your dream house looks like. Are you staying at your current job? Considering having kids? If you aren’t sure the house you’re interested in now will be the one you want in three to five years, pick a different home.

There’s a lot that goes into buying your first home. You’ll want to consult far more detailed resources as you navigate this process, but we hope these first-time homebuyer tips help you as you start your journey.


Want to learn more about Racine County? Check out the Racine Guide and The Buzz.

The Buzz: Racine Symphony Orchestra, the Grinch, and Brunch with Santa

Racine guide