The First-Time Buyer's Guide to Finding a Home
If you're like many first-time home buyers in Washington, DC, you're probably feeling excited, nervous, and amazed all at once. Buying your first home is an unforgettable experience. Like any savvy home buyer, you have decided to do your research on everything: what the process is like, what neighborhoods are great, and how to choose the right home.
As a team who has worked with plenty of first-time buyers, we have made a guide to help you avoid becoming stressed out and making major mistakes. Here's what to expect when buying your first home in Washington, DC.
Know What You Need vs. What You Want
Before searching for your first home in Washington, DC, we recommend making a list of your wants and needs. Many first-time home buyers often mistake their wants with their needs, which makes their house hunt become a frustrating process. Just to clarify, your "needs" are what you can't live without — a fenced-in yard for the kids or dog, 3 bedrooms for a growing family, guest quarters for visiting in-laws, etc. Your "wants" are features you prefer, but could give up.
These questions can help you prioritize home features and amenities on your list of wants and needs.
- Location: How close do you want to live to your office or to your family? Do you want to live steps from shopping, dining, or the Metro?
- Schools: Are schools important to your first home buying decision? Which schools do you prefer?
- Amenities: Are you willing to pay homeowners dues for access to a swimming pool or other recreational amenities?
- Community: Do you want to live in a neighborhood with nightlife? Are you looking for a neighborhood that has amenities for families with young children?
- Market Value: Has the neighborhood you are interested in held its value? (Our agents can provide statistics.)
Be Ready to Compromise
No home is perfect. A home that's steps from the Metro and in your budget may not have the laundry room or chef's kitchen you've always wanted. A home in a great school district and with the right number of bedrooms may not be as close to shopping and dining as you prefer. Keep an open mind while searching for homes, and be prepared to compromise on your home features. This is when your wants and needs list will come in handy!
Maintain Open Lines of Communication
Communication is essential to a smooth home buying journey. If you are buying a home with another person, make sure that both of you can discuss feedback about homes that you have seen, neighborhoods that you prefer, and features that you want and need. In addition, keep in touch with your Realtor regularly.
7 Helpful House Hunting Tips
Once you're ready to begin your search for a home, follow these guidelines for a hassle-free (and even enjoyable) house hunting experience.
- Keep track of homes you've seen. When you view multiple homes, it can be easy to forget which one had the beautiful view and which one had the incredible laundry room. Take pictures and notes (both positive and negative) when you go to showings so you can easily choose your favorite homes later.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. When touring multiple properties, you'll want to dress for the weather and wear shoes with adequate support.
- Avoid homes that don't fit your budget. You'll find yourself comparing every other property to that dream home and becoming frustrated when narrowing your choices.
- Limit your search to 4 homes per day. Don't shop 'til you drop. Pace yourself so you'll be able to pay careful attention to the properties you're viewing.
- Pay attention to landscaping. When you're viewing homes and narrowing your choices, make sure you consider the exterior. It can be expensive to make updates to the landscaping and exterior of a home.
- If you have small children, consider a babysitter. Once you've narrowed your choices, you can bring the kids along.
- Always view homes with your Realtor. Your real estate agent is an invaluable resource. They will help you eliminate homes that fail to meet your search criteria and your finances.
Ready to Find Your First Home in Washington, DC?
We'll take care of you every step of the way. If you're ready to buy a home in Washington, DC, contact us and let us know what your plans are. We'll help you choose the right neighborhood, find the right property, and negotiate the best price for your new home.