Are you a first-time home buyer feeling overwhelmed and intimidated with the home buying process? You may be feeling confused about where to start or what you need to do before buying your new home. If you’re looking to transition from a renter to a homeowner, continue reading for what all first-time buyers need to know now.

Prepare your documentation in advance

One of the first steps before buying a home is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval helps you to get a feel for how much you will actually be able to spend on a new home, and it requires presenting your financial information to the mortgage lender.

To ensure this process runs smoothly, make sure you have all of the proper documentation prepared in advance. This includes pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, credit card documentation and more. Keep an organized file of this information to save time throughout the rest of the home-buying process for when you will need to present documentation again.

Use the right real estate agent

Real estate agents are an important part of the home buying process, playing a large role in your experience and the outcome of buying a home. Agents are a great resource for providing valuable insight into potential neighborhoods and communities. A good real estate agent will also guide you through the home buying process and offer great negotiating skills. However, not only all real estate agents are the same. Research online and ask for referrals from friends to make sure you use the best agent for your needs.

The neighborhood you choose is key

While it’s tempting for first-time home buyers to choose a potential house for it’s size or style rather than its location, the home’s location is most important. You can complete upgrades or renovations over time but you can’t change the location. 

Before you fall in love with the home, make sure to research the area’s safety and crime statistics as well as its school district. Even if you don’t have kids, the neighboring schools will affect the home’s value in case you need to re-sell in the future. In addition, visit the house’s neighborhood during different times of day to make sure that the traffic and activity are what you are looking for.

Be prepared to be patient

Buying a house does not happen overnight. From house shopping to getting a mortgage, receiving an inspection and closing on the home, buying a house takes time. The typical home-buying process lasts for weeks to months and contains obstacles along the way. Prepare to remain patient and avoid rushing to make a decision that you will later regret. Take your time throughout each step to ensure that the home you end up with is the perfect fit.

A large down payment is never a bad idea

If you’re looking to buy a home, chances are you have savings ready for a down payment. Depending on the mortgage you chose or the cost of the house you decide on, your savings may end up exceeding the minimum down payment needed. While it’s tempting to put down only the minimum required if you have additional savings ready, it’s a smart choice to put down a larger down payment. You’ll save on interest over time and thank yourself later.

Even though buying a home for the first time is a daunting task, don’t be scared away. With research, a great real estate agent, and lots of patience, first-time buyers have the opportunity to make a great investment and truly find their dream home.