Duke Warner Realty

Tips for a First Time Home Buyer in Central Oregon

Now that you’re ready to buy your first home , you likely want to move in yesterday. You’ve dreamed about your ideal home for so long, it’s indelibly stamped in your mind. Think: compromise. As a first time home buyer, it is important you keep the following tips in mind (especially when purchasing a home in Central Oregon)!

1. Find What House You Can Afford

Chances are, first time home buyers can’t afford their dream home. Instead, try to find the best home in the best location that you can afford. Even buying your first home is expensive. Your first task is to secure a pre-approval for a mortgage loan. This will let you know how much you can spend on a home.

Remember that credit matters. The lender you will be getting your home loan from will use your credit score to determine your creditworthiness. When you have a higher score, the lender will see you as that much less of a risk. There is also an added incentive for you to try to get your credit score as high as possible when you are preparing to purchase your first home.

A lower interest rate means that you will be paying less for the home. The less you pay for the home, the smaller your down payment will be, and the smaller your monthly mortgage payments will be. If you want to improve your credit score before you start the home buying process, you will be glad to know you can see an increase soon if you do the right things. Some of the things you can do to improve your credit score quickly include:

  1. Paying down your credit lines
  2. Paying off some of your balances
  3. Not opening any new accounts until after you purchase a home
  4. Reporting false information on your credit report and having it removed

2. Find a Central Oregon Realtor

When you decide to start looking for your first home, you want to work with a good real estate agent. There are a lot of things you won’t know about purchasing a home unless you have experience working in the real estate field. The realtor will help you find the right home, help you through the whole buying process, and be there to answer any questions you have.

Find a trustworthy real estate agent in the vicinity where you would like to buy a home. Interview several agents until you connect with a knowledgeable agent who offers you a comfort level.

Make a list of your wants and needs for your new Central Oregon home. Realize you typically won’t find everything you want in one house but keep looking until you find everything you need. Contact Duke Warner’s realtors in Bend if you’d like to learn more about this process.

Tip: Being available to your realtor is a must!

When you are a first time home buyer, you don’t want to miss out on the chance to see what may have ended up being the perfect home for your family. If you only give your real estate agent one number to reach you, then they may call that number when a great house hits the market only to find that you don’t answer.

By the time you hear their message and get back to them, you may find that someone else has already made an offer on the home, the sellers accepted the offer, and now the sale is pending. If this happens, the only thing that you can do is to put in a backup offer, but this will only benefit you if something happens with the sale that is already pending. It’s best for your realtor to have your cell number, your spouse’s number, your home and work numbers, your email address, and any other forms of contact, so you will always be reachable no matter where you are.

3. Search Based on Location and Neighborhoods

Ask any realtor the most important factor in buying a home, and they will say – Location, Location, Location. Your realtor can point out several desirable neighborhoods in the area where you want to purchase a home.
Do a drive-through of the neighborhoods, paying particular attention to curb appeal, landscaping, exterior upkeep, and overall appearance, i.e., cars parked in front yards, pets running loose. Is there an excess of traffic noise?

Narrow things down to all of the areas you would be willing to live in and noting all of the ones that you would never even consider. This way, if the real estate agent gives you a long list of potential homes and there are things you like about all of them, you can start your search by checking out the homes that are in your most preferred neighborhoods first. You can span out to your next most preferred areas and so on until you finally find the home that is right for you.

Consider: Is the home close to the supermarket, restuarants, banks, medical facilities, shops, and so on? Even if you don’t have children, close proximity to pars and school will add value to your home if you decide to sell in the future.

Aside from Bend, some great places to find your first home are Redmond, Prineville, La Pine, Sunriver, Sisters, Culver, and Madras. You can find a wonderful Central Oregon home in any of these areas!

4. Research Crime Rates

The idea is to find a home located in an attractive neighborhood with a low crime rate. Think: safety first. You need to feel comfortable leaving your kids at home alone while you’re away. Also, you don’t want to be constantly worrying about break-ins when no one is home.

When you’ve settled on 2-3 neighborhoods, ask your realtor to schedule appointments for home-viewing.

5. Analyze the Roof and Exterior

Before you look at the home’s interior, look up at the roof. A first time home buyer will sometimes miss this step, but it is crucial!  Does it appear to be in good condition or are there some repairs and issues that need to be addressed? Ask the agent to find out when the roof was replaced. Buying a new roof is expensive. If you can see signs of age or missing shingles, get your realtor to find out whether the current homeowner will replace it before you buy.

Once you’re inside the home, look up at the ceilings in every room for signs of water damage. Also, watch for large cracks in the ceiling that may signify foundation damage.

6. Room-by-Room Features and Conditions

Do some research on the pros and cons of different features and amenities. As a first time home buyer, you might be excited about all the possible amenities you can add to your home. However, the reality may be that having that amenity may also come with much higher monthly bills and a lot of added maintenance you will quickly grow to hate. For example, you might think you want a pool because a few times a year you like to go to the local plunge. However, once you understand how much regular maintenance is involved with having a pool and how much it can raise your bills, you may decide you really wouldn’t like to have a home with a pool after all. 

Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to do an interior check. Scope out the floors, windows, and walls for damage. Are there unpleasant smells, which may mean pets have lived inside, or someone smoked in the house? Check the kitchen- are countertops in good condition? Are the gold kitchen appliances circa 1970? Will the homeowner consider replacing them?

What about systems, such as HVAC units, plumbing, hot water heater, etc.? Find out if they are well-maintained. Open cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms and observe for any plumbing leaks.

Does the home have a good flow? For example, you may have a pet peeve about a powder room that opens into the kitchen. Are the bathrooms adequate in number and large enough for your comfort level? Suppose you want two sinks in the master bath, with storage underneath. Can you live with only one pedestal sink?

Of course, your home inspector can point out the problems, but it’s prudent for you to note whatever you can see. That way, you can compare his/her findings with yours and possibly negotiate based on the home inspection.

7. Enjoy the Process of Finding Your Central Oregon Starter Home

There’s a reason it’s called a “starter home”. First time home buyers usually can’t afford their dream home. Just keep looking, and you’ll find something you and your family will enjoy right now.

You’ll transition from a first time home buyer to a first time homeowner. That’s a pretty good place to be.

What to Expect After the Sale

Once you have purchased your first Central Oregon home, you need to know what to do after escrow has closed and you take possession of the home. Some of the things that you will need to do is to call the utility companies and have them turn on the service to the home. You should call at least a couple of weeks before you plan on moving into the home so you know the companies have had time to turn the utilities on, or so you know they can schedule you an appointment for the day you will be at the house.

You also want to be sure you call to start trash service, which sometimes comes with another service, but sometimes it is handled as its own entity. Don’t forget to schedule things like the Internet and cable television. You may also want to research the nearest grocery stores to determine which ones have your favorite brands and which ones have the best prices. The prices can vary so much from one grocery store to the other that researching the prices ahead of time will be well worth it.

If you have more questions or are ready to start your search today, contact one of our agents by clicking the link below!

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