Top 12 Things You Wish You Knew before Buying Your First House

Experts offer advice for first-time home buyers including which coverage to look for.
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for by authoring consumable, understandable content.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

Rear View Of Loving Couple Looking At House. Top 12 Things You Wish You Knew Before Buying Your First House.

Buying your first home is no small task, and there are many factors to consider like your budget, taking on a mortgage, and finding the protection you'll need for your investment. Homeowners insurance is critical to protect your new home from many threats like vandalism, fire damage, and more.

Fortunately, finding the right homeowners insurance can be easy with the help of an independent insurance agent. They'll make sure you get all the coverage you need for your new home. But for starters, here's a handful of expert tips on buying your first home.

Expert Tip #1: Don't Rush the Home-Buying Process

When choosing your first home, it's helpful to take your time. It's likely this is the largest investment you've made yet, and you'll want to be sure it's a smart one. Don't just buy a home that appeals to you right now. Make sure to keep your future plans for the property in mind, such as if you'll be expanding your family. You'll also want to save enough for a down payment before making any serious moves.

Expert Tip #2: Pay Off Other Debt to Improve Your Credit Score

This is a good opportunity to pay off your smallest debts first before building upward. You can eliminate or minimize your debts faster this way, and with less debt on hand, you'll be better able to handle a new mortgage and home maintenance costs. As your credit score improves as you pay off your debt, your mortgage rates will also lower, which in turn improves your insurance rates and approval odds.

Expert Tip #3: Research Loan Options and First-Time Homebuyer Programs

Many options exist to help out first-time home buyers to help you get settled into a new property. There are programs for veterans, residents with special needs, and more. A mortgage broker can help you explore all the options available including first-time home buyer programs and loans. 

Expert Tip #4: Find Your Loan Mortgage Broker Early and Get Preapproved

Working with a mortgage broker is the way to go, since they can shop around multiple companies to find you the right rates so you don't have to settle for what just one bank or lender offers. A legitimate broker can walk you through all your options so you can choose the mortgage that offers you the best rate and plan. Your mortgage broker can also answer any questions you may have about the fine print or the process overall.

Expert Tip #5: Know What You Can Afford

Your mortgage broker can help you draw out your mortgage situation's forecast for the future, so you can see if it fits into your specific budget. They can also help you get a preapproval letter which you'll then share with real estate agents of the homes you're considering. These preapproval letters serve as proof that you can pay for the house you want.

Expert Tip #6: Find a Real Estate Agent You Trust

Since you'll be spending a lot of time with your real estate agent, you'll want to find one you really trust. Before choosing an agent, talk to them about their specific methods, what their strategy would be for you, and more. 

There's no pressure to pick the first real estate agent you talk with since they know they're essentially being interviewed for a chance to work with you, and need to be able to provide the help you need. If you're not happy with what they tell you, move on to the next candidate.


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Expert Tip #7: Always Get an Inspection

Even if the property you're eyeing is brand new, it's critical to always get a home professionally inspected before you sign any official papers. Home inspections target any issues with the property, big or small, so the home buyer knows what repairs need to be taken care of. If the home is in need of major or minor maintenance, you can work with the seller to renegotiate the selling price, have them reimburse you for the costs, or arrange for them to fix the problems first.

Expert Tip #8: Save for Closing Costs

Keep in mind that closing costs on a new home usually are between three to six percent of the overall cost of the house. Closing costs go directly to mortgage brokers, realtors, etc., and are paid at the time the sale closes. However, you can request that your closing costs roll into your mortgage, or you can request that the home's seller pays them as a part of your deal.

Expert Tip #9: Location, Location, Location

Where your home is located matters for several reasons, including:

  • How long your commute to work will be.
  • How far your children's schools are, if applicable.
  • How close you are to local parks, restaurants, and entertainment.
  • How close you are to fire stations and police stations.

Buying a home that's located closer to a fire station can help you reduce your homeowners insurance rates, since you'll have a greater chance of having a fire put out quickly if one happens. Beyond that, your home's location needs to be convenient for you and your family in as many ways as possible.

Expert Tip #10: Think Long Term

Don't just anticipate the next year of your life when buying your first home. Instead, expand your imagination out to several years, or even decades, down the road and what life will be like for you then. Of course you can always move later on, but buying a home that addresses your future needs now can save you a lot of hassle.

Plan ahead before even looking at any properties. Knowing your future goals for a home can help you avoid a premature sale that won't accommodate upcoming changes in your life. Buying a home is meant to be a more permanent option than renting, so considering the future first is key.

Expert Tip #11: Make the Right Offer

When it's time to make an offer, your real estate agent will be by your side and can help walk you through the process and teach you how to make an educated offer. They'll use their personal experience and knowledge of the current home market, as well as their seller mentality, to help you. Just know that buying a home involves a deal, so numbers can be shifted around to the point that everyone on both sides of the sale can get exactly what they want.

Expert Tip #12: Get the Right Home Insurance

We saved the best tip for last. Protecting your new investment really starts and ends with the proper homeowners insurance policy. Since you're making a huge investment in your home, you deserve to know that it's guarded against many possible disasters that could lead to you ultimately losing your funds otherwise.

How to Find the Right Home Insurance

Insurance expert Paul Martin says that the most important tip for first-time home buyers is to work together with a local independent insurance agent when shopping for your home insurance. You need an experienced agent in your area to help you since they understand which insurance companies will insure the property you want. Local agents are also someone you can trust and they can help ensure that there won't be any issues with closing on your home.

Standard homeowners insurance includes these protections:

  • Dwelling insurance: Covers your home's structure against perils like lightning strikes, fire damage, vandalism, and more.
  • Contents insurance: Covers your personal property like clothing, furniture, etc. from many of the same perils including fire damage, theft, etc.
  • Liability insurance: Covers your personal liability costs if you get sued by a third party for claims of bodily injury or personal property damage.
  • Additional living expenses: Covers additional expenses if your home gets badly damaged and needs ongoing repairs that require you to live somewhere else during the process.

Working together with an experienced independent insurance agent in your area is the ideal way to get matched to all the coverage your new home needs to help it stay protected against everyday disasters for many years to come. Keep all these expert tips in mind when shopping for your first home to greatly improve your odds of living happily ever after. 

Why Choose an Independent Insurance Agent?

Independent insurance agents simplify the process by shopping and comparing insurance quotes for you. Not only that, but they’ll also cut through the jargon and clarify the fine print so you'll know exactly what you’re getting.

Independent insurance agents also have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best home insurance coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you.

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