Buying a home for the first time? Ready to jump with both feet into the real estate market? Congratulations- buying a home can and should be incredibly fun. But it can be daunting for the uninitiated.
Fortunately, you can learn to navigate the Southwest Florida real estate market with confidence, even if it’s your first time.
Know Your Budget Before You Search
The most important thing to get nailed down first is your budget, hands down.
So many first-time homebuyers fall into the trap of buying more home than they can afford. Sure, that luxury condo looks nice, but unless it fits in with your budget, you shouldn’t buy it.
The classic rule of thumb is you should spend no more than a third of your gross annual income on housing-related expenses. Factor in mortgage payments, insurance, and maintenance and then divide by 12. That’ll give you an idea of how much you should budget for on a monthly basis.
Resist the temptation to go over that mark for any reason.
Learn the Ropes about Being a Condo Owner
If you’re buying a condo, you’ll be a member of a condo homeowner’s association, which comes with its own unique rules and regulations. Speak to condo associations and learn what you can about what is expected of you, including fees and dues. This is something many first-time homeowners overlook, and it can come back and get you later if you neglect to learn as much as you can.
Scout Out the Neighborhood
When you go to search for homes, you should pay attention to more than just the home itself.
The neighborhood will be a major influence on how you enjoy your home. This includes the community itself – especially important if you buy a condo in a gated community – but also what’s nearby. Look for schools, grocery stores, shopping, restaurants, entertainment, and easy access to transportation to get to where you work.
A lot of first-time homebuyers just look at the home itself. Don’t make that mistake; consider the home as part of a package with the neighborhood as a whole.