Ready to Buy? First-Time Home Buyer Essentials You Need to Know

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If you’re a first time home buyer, congrats on this exciting milestone! Purchasing your first home opens up a world of opportunities to build equity and stability. But for many first-timers, the process also comes with a lot of unknowns. This guide covers must-know tips for first time home buyer to set you up for success.

Get Crystal Clear on Your Budget

Before you start browsing listings or contacting lenders, establish a clear budget. This should factor in down payment funds, ideal monthly mortgage payments, and other ownership costs.

Save for Your Down Payment

Experts recommend a 20% down payment, but 10-15% is more realistic for first timers. Save diligently for this and avoid withdrawing from retirement funds.

Estimate Your Monthly Payments

Factor in mortgage principal/interest, property taxes, home insurance, HOA fees, and utilities. Budget conservatively to account for repairs and maintenance too.

Crunch the Numbers

Use an online mortgage calculator to run different home price scenarios. See how down payment size and interest rates impact monthly costs.

Get Preapproved

Work with a lender to get pre-approved at your target budget. This shows home sellers you’re creditworthy and ready to buy.

Line Up the Right Real Estate Agent

Your agent will be your guide through the entire buying process. Take time to find the right fit.

Seek Out First Time Buyer Expertise

Look for an agent who regularly works with and understands first time buyers. They’ll have extra advice and patience.

Personality and Communication Matter

Make sure your work styles mesh and they communicate in your preferred manner – email, text, phone, etc.

Ask About Their Track Record

Inquire about their average days on market, list prices vs sale prices, and success with multiple offers. Highly experienced agents provide valuable insight here.

Watch Out for Dual Agency

Avoid dual agency where the agent represents you and the seller. This is a conflict of interest.

Pick the Right Mortgage Loan

With countless mortgage options out there, it’s essential you understand the pros and cons of different loans and choose the right one for your situation.

Conventional, FHA, USDA, VA

Research the benefits of conventional loans and government-backed options like FHA, USDA, and VA programs.

ARM vs Fixed Rate

Weigh the risks of adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) vs the stability of fixed rates. Fixed rates are preferable for first timers.

Down Payment Impacts

The larger your down payment, the better the rates and loan options you may qualify for.

Shop Around

Compare multiple lender quotes. A local mortgage broker may offer better rates than big banks.

Make Sure You’re Ready to Buy

Buying a home is a big commitment. Take time to honestly assess if you’re truly ready for the responsibility.

Are You Financially Stable?

Review income, savings, debts, and credit. Crunch numbers to ensure you can afford ownership costs plus regular bills and expenses.

How Long Will You Stay?

If moving within 5-7 years, renting may be a better option to avoid short term ownership costs.

Emotionally Ready?

Are you prepared to take on the stress of repairs, maintenance, HOAs, and the buying/selling process? Know what you’re getting into.

Timing is Key

If the market is competitive, be prepared for bidding wars, appraisal gaps, and waived contingencies. Or wait for a buyers’ market.


The first time home buying process can feel overwhelming. But going in armed with the right budget, team, mortgage, and prep work can give you a major advantage. Following this first time home buyer in Texas guide will help you navigate the journey smoothly. Before you know it, you’ll be a proud new homeowner.

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