12 Things Every First-Time Homeowner Should Do Before You Buy

Wendy Robinson | Jun 14, 2016 Home & Garden
12 Things Every First-Time Homeowner Should Do Before You Buy

happy coupleBuying a home is a major part of living the American dream. And it's also one of the biggest life and money decisions you’ll ever make. Especially if you're a first-timer, the process is super exciting -- but there’s also plenty of pressure to make the right decisions.

Buying a house doesn't have to be overwhelming, though. With the help of a good real estate agent and some wise advice from those who've gone before you, finding the right house for your family is a totally doable task.

Read on for wisdom learned by homeowners during their first purchase. You can definitely use these tips.

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  • Be Willing to Compromise


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    "You probably aren't going to find a house that gives you EVERY single thing you want. Be realistic, especially if you are buying a starter home. Know what is most important to you and what things you can live without if you have to. I'm in my third house and still waiting for my giant bathtub and kitchen island!" -- Claire R., Topeka, Kansas

  • Look Beyond Paint Color


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    "It always drives me crazy when I watch those house shows on TV and people are put off of a house by paint color. Paint color is the easiest thing to change, so don't overlook a good house just because it has purple walls!" -- Jenny C., Costa Mesa, California

  • Read Closely Before You Sign


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    "There is SO much paperwork associated with buying a house-- mortgage information, homeowners insurance paperwork, home inspection papers -- that it can be easy just to start skimming and signing. But you really need to take the time to read everything carefully. You are making a big financial commitment, so you need to know what you are signing! Don't let anyone make you feel rushed when it comes to signing documents." -- Heather H., Denver, Colorado

  • Consider Resale Value Factors


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    "If you are buying a house you don't plan to live in forever, you'll want to think about resale value. Just remember that wood is always better than carpet, matching appliances are good, and you can never fix location problems!" -- Sheila D., Lansing, Michigan

  • Compare Prices


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    "Remember that when it comes to things like insurance and even mortgage rates, you should shop around. Comparing rates can save you big money down the road." -- Alexis B., Minneapolis, Minnesota

    More from CafeMom: 8 Top Home-Buying Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them)

  • Be Realistic About Your Lifestyle


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    "When my husband and I were home shopping, we fell in love with this great brick house on a HUGE lot, even though we had said we wanted a small yard or even a condo with no yard. We are not into yard work or gardening. But this house was great and we almost talked ourselves into it. Then our real estate agent reminded us that we'd have to rake and mow this acre for years. We just weren't ready for that much yard. But it can be easy to overlook stuff like that. You have to really know what you can take on." -- Lisa S., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Check the Bills


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    "Especially if you like older houses, like I do, you should always ask to see a year's worth of utility bills before you buy. We bought without doing that and found out the hard way that our house was SO expensive to heat in the winters. That first $600 utility bill was a shocker." -- Frannie E., Hershey, Pennsylvania

  • Get to Know the Neighborhood


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    "I live near a college, and I always tell friends who want to buy here to try to find out how many houses on the street are rental properties versus owner occupied. We have a rental house next door to us and so every year we have a new crew of college students next door. I'm so over the constant parties and finding red cups in my front yard!" -- Lindsay W., Grand Rapids, Michigan

  • Don't Fall for Staging


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    "People have gotten so good at staging homes, but sometimes it can make it hard to notice the flaws. I once started to fall in love with a house that had a seemingly perfect kitchen. But once I looked past all the beautiful decor, I realized it had a really weird layout and was missing a garbage disposal and a dishwasher. Not deal breakers, but good to notice before putting in an offer." -- Izzy D., San Diego, California

  • Think Long-Term


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    "When my husband and I bought our house, we planned for it to be a 'forever house.' We still love it, but I've come to realize that it might not be a forever house if one of us ever becomes infirm or disabled. There is no way to convert this house to work for someone if they couldn't climb stairs, for example. We just didn't think about what it would be like to live there as old people, and I wish we had." -- Susie D., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Get a Thorough Home Inspection


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    "A good home inspection is a critical step. Never, ever skip the inspection. You never know what they might find, and you can save yourself thousands if the inspector catches something you didn't see." -- Riley R., Tucson, Arizona

  • Protect Your Investment


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    "Two things I was glad to have when we got our first house was a good homeowner's insurance and a security system. Someone tried to break in just a few weeks after we moved in, and they broke a window and a door frame. The damage was covered by our insurance, so we didn't have to shell out money for repairs." -- Sarah F., Tucson, Arizona

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