Reader Question: I am going to look at my first house on Saturday. I am wondering whom the best person would be to take with me to visit. Is it better to go alone? Since you do not know my friends and family, both my dad and step-dad have done work on their own houses. I do not know if this would be a good or a bad thing. Could they unknowingly give bad advice? Additionally, what is your usual advice for single people buying a house on their own? Stephanie W.
Monty’s Answer: Hello Stephanie, and thanks for asking questions. Single first time homebuyers have different approaches to the home buying process. Some want to be totally independent and make the decision without seeking advice from family or friends. Some want as many family and friends opinions as they can muster while other first time buyers are between these two philosophies.
The independent buyer
There are many reasons single first time homebuyers will cite for going it alone. They see it as a challenge, or one of life’s ultimate experiences. This may be one of the biggest responsibilities they have yet faced, and they want the satisfaction of navigating through it solo.
They may see the involvement of friends or family members as a potential source of conflict. If the buyer likes the house and “Dad” thinks it is a poor deal, will spurning Dad’s advice come back to haunt them? It may be as simple as not wanting to “bother” anyone. Possibly they trust the opinions of professionals involved in real estate matters daily, rather than the armchair quarterbacks.
The group opinion buyer
Here, we have people who believe that additional input is valuable. A friend or family member may bring up a question or spot a potential issue that may be otherwise overlooked. Sometimes, people are tentative, and encouragement from an advisor is what it takes to make the decision. This may be especially true with the magnitude of the real estate purchase.
Advice to single homebuyers
The recommendation is to follow the real estate process in logical order and take the time to learn how to evaluate a home correctly. Pay particular attention to the types of home to consider. For example, some singles prefer condominium or townhouse living for security and maintenance reasons. This is the same advice as for a first time home buying couple as described on the DearMonty.com Website.
Additionally, do the following:
1. After looking at your first home, do not buy it. If you like it, go back to it after you have looked at others, but it is essential to have a perspective on your affordability range in the neighborhoods you choose. This cannot be accomplished reviewing listings on the Internet. It requires an investment in time, and the discipline to weather the “fear of loss” that drives so many home purchases.
2. Make a list of all the features and benefits desired in your home. Some features and benefits do not move up through price ranges. Be certain to list features that are available in your affordability range. Oftentimes, two homes may offer similar features, but the neighborhoods have different pricing. In larger communities, an “area tour” with a real estate agent can help define neighborhoods and reduce your search time.
3. If bringing friends and family, do not allow their unavailability to view a home with you to curtail your search. You may not even like a home so consider only taking them to “finalists”. Also keep in mind they may be unintentionally selling their biases.
4. Shop for your mortgage loan. Not all mortgage loans are created equal, and there is more to consider than the interest rate and monthly payment. The article titled “Finding a Home Mortgage” on DearMonty.com has advice about where and how to look.
5. Always plan on having the home inspected before committing to own it. Whether bringing your handy family members or not, a person trained for the task with a wealth of experience is a necessity. Asking handy family members who are sincere and helpful may inadvertently create hurt feelings later. If they miss a vital item or something expensive to replace, like a faulty furnace, what will you do? A growing number of home inspectors now carry Errors and Omissions insurance or have limited guarantees against loss.
I hope this information is helpful, Stephanie. Ask me if there are other questions. Good luck in finding your first home.