Whether you’re buying an investment property or a personal residence, the first time you purchase a house can be really daunting. It seems like there are so many things to consider and so many things that can go wrong. Plus, you’ve probably heard a bunch of horror stories and know how fast the market is moving. You might wonder if you can even compete.
Drown out that noise and adopt an abundant mindset. There are plenty of deals to go around! There are also some great incentives for first-time buyers, so educate yourself and be prepared to take action when the right opportunity comes along.
Just like anything else in real estate, creating a system and following a process can streamline and simplify things, leaving you with much less fear and anxiety. So if you’re considering a first purchase, here’s my advice to you and some steps you can take.
1. Figure Out Your Goals
Are you buying a personal residence? Is it a house hack that you will rent out fully in a year? Are you buying this property to live in for a few years and then keep as a rental later? It’s important that you know the answers to these questions up front—as well as what your long-term goals and plans are. This will largely define your budget.
For example, if you’re house hacking but not initially covering the entire mortgage with your tenants’ rent, will this property cash flow once you move out? Or if you’re buying a personal residence and it’s your forever home, you probably have much more wiggle room for upgrades and extras.
I actually encourage you to get the things that you want (if you can afford them and they will bring you joy) because it’s important that you love your home and appreciate the investment. If it’s not your forever home or a house you see yourself in for a long time, it’s important that it not get overly emotional.
2. Speak To a Lender
Ideally, your lender will be someone who understands investments—not someone who just cares about the sale. You want to find someone who will be willing to listen to you, understand your goals, and give you a product that works best for you.
You might not find this person right away, and that’s OK. Not all lenders are created equal. Keep looking until you find the one that you want. Don’t be afraid to shop around.
3. Finalize Your Budget
Once you’ve found a great lender, figure out exactly what your budget is. And I don’t mean how much you can afford—I mean what is within the limits of your goals. If you know that market rent in an area is only $1,000, you don’t want your mortgage payment to be $1,100, because you will have a negative cash flow every month.
4. Find a Great Agent
This is similar to finding a great lender. You need to find someone who is going to listen to you and someone who wants to work for you. Make sure they understand your goals and the market. Make sure that they help you understand the process and at least have a general knowledge of the rental side of real estate.
This is a good time to talk with a property manager, as well—especially if you’re considering renting the property in the future. Before you make an offer, make sure you know exactly what the market rent range is.
5. Crunch the Numbers
Start looking at properties and run the numbers on every single one individually. Don’t let this get too emotional. Once you find the property that meets the numbers you’re looking for, move on to step six.
6. Make Offers
As soon as you find something that meets your criteria, make an offer. And even if it doesn’t meet your criteria, offer a price that does. The worst the seller can say is no.
Making offers is the only way you’re going to acquire properties. It’s the only way you’re going to achieve your goals. It’s the only way you’re going to build a portfolio or move toward financial freedom or your dream home.
The Bottom Line
That’s it! Simple, basic, straightforward. Don’t overthink it, and don’t get overly emotional about it.
And remember that you can protect yourself even while making offers. Build in a financing contingency, an inspection contingency, and anything else you can think of. And sleep peacefully knowing that you have full control and have time to do your own due diligence.
What do you wish you’d known when making your first purchase?
Share your experiences in the comments.