3 ways to prepare for buying your first home

By Allstate

Last updated: January 1

Whether you're just starting to think about buying your first home or you're already going to open houses, purchasing your first home is a big deal. The home buying process can feel daunting for a first-time homebuyer, but you can do a few things to get ready. Consider these tips to help you prepare for buying your first home.

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1. Consider working with a real estate professional

A real estate professional may be able to offer assistance and perspective that home listing websites cannot provide. An agent will likely have insight on homes you are interested in, such as whether the price is appropriate for the neighborhood. A professional may also know about homes that are not yet available on the listing websites, says The Balance. The agent should also understand current market conditions and be able to negotiate on your behalf.

2. Know the neighborhood

Part of finding the right home is also finding the right neighborhood. HGTV recommends taking a few things into consideration before settling on some potential neighborhoods:

  • Your commute. Will your drive to and from work be manageable? Or will you be near public transportation?
  • Children. If you have kids or plan to someday, consider this in your decision. What are the neighborhood schools like? Are there parks, playgrounds and other families with kids in the area?
  • Walkability. Can you walk to restaurants and stores? If not, is it easy to get places by car or public transportation?
  • Neighborhood amenities. Consider what is most important to you or part of your daily routine. Whether you want to live near a beach or have a great library, make sure the area has what matters most to you.

It can also be helpful to ask people in the neighborhood about pros and cons of the area.

3. Set your priorities

To find the right house, you need to know what you're looking for. It's helpful to separate your must-haves from your wish list, says Forbes. Must-haves are features you don't want to compromise on, such as the number of bedrooms. Your wish list is made up of features that you'd like but aren't absolutely necessary. For example, would you be OK with fewer bedrooms but a larger kitchen?

No matter what you're searching for, make sure you know what you can afford. Review your current budget to determine your ability to make mortgage and insurance payments and to put money down. Also, you may want to consider getting preapproved for a home loan before you start looking — that way, you'll be able to make an offer as quickly as possible.

There's a lot that goes into buying a home, but being prepared can help make the process a little smoother. Then, knowing you're focusing on places that fit your budget and your needs, you can start looking for the house that will become your home.