By Dan Steward
RISMEDIA, May 25, 2010—Those who missed taking advantage of the first-time buyer tax credit but who are still planning the purchase of their first home, continue to have a wealth of opportunities in today’s marketplace. A few smart steps can save first-time buyers thousands of dollars. Here is a look at some of the ways how:
1. Don’t buy if you don’t plan to stay
If you can’t commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner – even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it’s an even worse proposition.
2. Start by shoring up your credit
Since you probably will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.
3. Choose carefully between points and rate
When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points- a portion of the interest that you pay at closing- in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time- say three to five years or more- it’s usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.
4. Hire a home inspector
A home inspector can let you know if you’re about to buy a lemon of a house or warn you about potential problems. At best, you can move into the house confident that it’s in good shape; at worst, the inspector’s report can let you back out of the deal if the house has major, unexpected problems. Most typically, the home inspection can allow you to negotiate the home price to account for necessary repairs.
5. Get professional help
Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.
6. Bonus Tip: Be patient
Buying a home is one of the largest purchases most people will make in their lifetime. The key to avoiding buyer’s remorse is to be completely comfortable before signing on the dotted line.
Dan Steward is president, Pillar To Post. For more information, visit www.pillartopost.com.
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