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5 Things You’ll Wish You Knew Before Buying Your First Home

Bryan Garcia

Bryan is Principal Broker & Licensed REALTOR® with EXIT Heritage Realty in Haymarket, Virginia...

Bryan is Principal Broker & Licensed REALTOR® with EXIT Heritage Realty in Haymarket, Virginia...

Sep 4 8 minutes read

The Garcia Real Estate Group knows first hand that the home buying process can be daunting—especially in challenging times like now. Inventory is low so it is a Seller's Market, and homes are going fast. 

We work with buyers who struggle with decisions all the time. Everyone is more than willing to give you advice, but what should you REALLY spend your time worrying about? 

From our experience working with first-time home buyers, we see the set backs and surprises that can occur. Here are 5 solid pieces of advice that can help first-time buyers BEFORE they buy. 

1. Take Your Time with Mortgage Lenders

It’s no easy decision when debating over the many home lender options. First-time home buyers typically do the research themselves or use a loan officer, often referred by their real estate agent. Whichever route you decide works best for you, don’t be too hasty. Reading the fine print of every offer you receive is a must.

If you take the time to consider various lenders, you may find yourself in a position to negotiate the terms of your mortgage. A major first-time buyer consideration is that of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). If your down payment is less than 20% of the home sale price, then there is a high chance most lenders will require a monthly PMI fee. By taking the time to shop around, you may have the opportunity to arrange a more favorable long-term agreement. 

Pro tip: you can quickly compare different rates and lenders using

Another type of loan to look out for are loans that recast. This means that your interest rate and loan term remain the same, but your monthly mortgage payment is reduced to reflect your actual current loan balance. Typically with these types of loans, lenders need an additional lump sum payment in order for recasting to work. 

Everyone’s situation is unique. There are pros and cons to every loan. Realtors aren’t financial advisors and you should always supplement our advice with a professional.

2. Budget for Unexpected Costs

This may sound obvious, but plenty of first-time buyers do not fully comprehend the amount of money that is spent before getting the keys to their future homes. While it’s essential to determine your future mortgage allowances, it is equally imperative to save an emergency fund. If you are currently in a rental lease agreement and you find the perfect home prior to your planned moving timeline, you will need a financial buffer. More often than not, buyers find themselves stuck between their current living expenses and those of their new mortgage agreement. Buyers will also be responsible for paying all inspection fees for each home they intend to make an offer on.

Additional costs like moving expenses and the possible use of a storage facility can become very costly even over a relatively short period. Finally, you may discover problems that arise just after you move in, they may not have been present or found by an inspector like a leak during a heavy storm. 

For direction on how much to set aside for these extra costs, speak to Bryan Garcia and The Garcia Real Estate Group.

To get an free quote for moving expenses, contact one of our local favorites, Able Moving Company. 

3. There is No Such Thing as the “Perfect Home”

According to real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, “Buyers decide in the first eight seconds of seeing a home if they’re interested in buying it.” While following your gut is important, too often new buyers tend to make rash judgments. Before starting your home search, brainstorm a very detailed list of deal breakers. Is having a large yard a must? Are you only interested in homes with updated interior features? Do you require a minimum of 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms? Do you want to be in a specific school district? Now narrow that list of must-haves down to the most important 3-4 features. This may take some serious flexibility. 

Furthermore, in our current market, buyers feel as though they should take what they can get due to low inventory.

If you have the time and freedom to look at every available option, do it. The Garcia Real Estate Group is happy to show you homes until you find the right one! This can be time consuming, but your earlier expectations may change during the house hunt. Sometimes it’s tough to find the right home — in the ideal price point — in the perfect community.

It might be impossible to find a home that checks off all of the boxes upfront. Think about what you are willing to sacrifice up front that can be done later, like renovations and additions.

We recently sold the Winchester area home pictured in the slideshow above. While the kitchen did need updating, this all brick home offered many other unique features like a built-in pool and huge outbuilding that are hard to come by. 

Ready to look at homes in Prince William County and surrounding areas? Call The Garcia Real Estate Group. Our Buyer's Specialist, LuAnn knows this area well and loves to work with buyers?

3. Always Consider Return on Investment

It’s relatively easy to factor which type of home and location suits your current lifestyle needs. A townhouse or condo may offer a cheaper mortgage upfront or low maintenance. It might even be within walking distance to your favorite coffee shop or gym! While these are all things to consider, do not lose sight of the long-term investment. It is extremely valuable to consider your future buyer, especially if this home is a starter home or your circumstances may change in the future.

One key factor to consider is the area’s school district. Would your home be attractive to a family? If the answer is yes, there is a good chance you’ll have a more successful selling experience when the time comes. However, if the home you love is close to railroad tracks, high tension wire or a busy highway, it may be more challenging to sell later. 

5. Pay Close Attention to the Home Inspection

Once you’ve chosen the home you want to make an offer on, and the seller has agreed to terms, you will need to hire a licensed home inspector (or sometimes multiple home inspectors) to evaluate the home's condition. Keep this in mind: no home, no matter the age, is in perfect condition. We find homes that are brand new construction with inspection problems!

A good inspector will point out all the issues about the four main inspection points: HVAC, electrical wiring/panels, plumbing, and roofing. These four areas of concern will directly affect your home insurance coverage and more costly short and long-term repairs. The status of the inspection report will also play a role in the negotiation process between the buyer and seller. An experienced Realtor will know exactly how to advise your next steps. 

While not every scenario is highlighted here Bryan Garcia and The Garcia Real Estate Group are happy to answer any questions you have during your home buying experience. We even have a well-rounded list of trusted Haymarket area vendors if you are in need of a referral. 

Have Questions?

The Garcia Real Estate Group is happy to answer any questions you still have, or provide a list of our trusted vendors.

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