The time has come. Your lease is up, and you have to decide if you’re going to re-sign, move into a new rental, or even take the first steps toward becoming a homeowner. Lexington, Kentucky, is a beautiful city with lots of options for living situations, but you’ve reached the point in your life where you want a little more space.
You might be thinking about starting a family, or maybe you’ve already got one, and you could use a little more space! Perhaps you want room for a backyard garden, or you’re interested in acquiring more running space for your dogs. Regardless of your reasons, buying a house for the first time is a big undertaking, and there are many factors to consider while you prepare to start your journey.
- Prepare Financially
The very first step to buying a house is getting your financial ducks in a row. As soon as you start considering purchasing a house, you should start to save your money so that you’ll be sure to have the funds for various steps along the way. When you do purchase a home, a series of fees will come at you in quick succession: you’ll have to make a down payment, potentially pay closing costs, pay move-in expenses, and deal with other unexpected fees that may crop up along the way.
The first major step is to make your budget. Analyze current bills and income and see what money you have left over at the end of the month. You can afford a house payment equal to your current rent payment, but can you afford more? The down payment, combined with what you can afford to pay per month, will determine the price of the house you can afford.
A great way to start acquiring funds for a house is to get preapproved for a home loan. Remember that you’re not required to go with the bank you are preapproved for when you purchase. However, this step will give you a place to start.
- Research Mortgage Options
There are several types of loans for which you may qualify. The government does not guarantee conventional mortgages. For first-time home buyers, there can be options that allow for a downpayment as low as three percent of the total home cost. The Federal Housing Administration does guarantee FHA loans. These types of loans may also allow a down payment as low as three and a half percent.
The federal government also guarantees US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Veterans Affairs (VA) loans if you meet specific requirements, so consider what options may fit your unique situation. If you are purchasing in a rural area, a USDA loan may not necessitate a down payment. If you are a veteran, you may qualify for a VA loan that generally does not require a down payment.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
Both you and the seller will be pushing for the best possible deal you can get. When you make an initial offer, be sure not to lowball too much, or you could be outbid and lose your chance. However, you also don’t want to offer too much too soon. If you’re working with a realtor, discuss the best ballpark offer to start off with.
After the initial offer, you and the seller will enter the negotiation process. Typical discussions include price and who will pay closing costs (or how those will be split). You can also discuss concessions on the seller’s part for improvements before purchase and the possibility of including certain furniture, appliances, or even backyard features like playscapes in your purchase. Do be prepared to pay a little more if you want extra amenities included in the bargain.
- Don’t Forget the House Inspection
Home inspectors look for fundamental home problems. They assess foundation issues, electrical problems, and roof and air conditioner hazards. It is generally best that you pay for the home inspection. That way, you can choose the inspector and feel confident in double-checking things that might go unnoticed.
One issue that can often go unnoticed until it’s too late is pest damage. Damage from pests like rodents or insects is often in unseen areas, like inside the walls and foundation. In Lexington, you’ll want to keep a particular eye out for rodents and wasps. Rodents can chew through wires, presenting a fire hazard. Wasps, which build their nests in quiet corners, can create fire hazards around wires (not to mention their painful stings).
If your inspection does turn up damage from pests, you can negotiate to have the best pest control in Lexington, KY, take care of the issue, and have the sellers cover that cost.
- Consider Getting the Property Surveyed
Kentucky is a large state, and many properties around Lexington ramble on without clearly demarcated property lines or fences. Getting your new property surveyed will tell you exactly where your property line is and how much land you have.
If you have pets that venture outside, this will be important as you may want to build a fence, and you don’t want to build on your neighbor’s property by accident. This is also important if you ever want to consider building additions onto your home, erecting other structures on your property, or undertaking a significant landscaping or planting project.
- Take the Walk-Through Seriously
The walk-through is usually the final step before closing and typically occurs the day before your morning of closing. It is also your last chance to make sure that everything is ready. If you requested that the seller make any repairs to the property, check to ensure everything you have requested is completed.
If you have purchased anything moveable with the home (furniture, appliances, and so on), ready an inventory list and make sure everything you are buying is accounted for. Sellers want the best deal, too, and may try to save money through improper repairs that you could end up dealing with later.
- Don’t Wait Too Long for the Perfect House
There is rarely such a thing as the “perfect house.” Even when you find your dream home, there will be unforeseen details that may complicate the process. Every property is unique, and there are always things you can do to make a house a home as long as you let go of the desire for perfection.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a house you love. Figure out your non-negotiables. If you absolutely must have a kitchen big enough for your whole family to fit in when they visit so you can cook dishes for the holidays, then make sure to prioritize finding a house that meets that need. If you require a large yard where your six dogs can frolic to their hearts’ content, find that.
You can find the house that fits your needs, even if it doesn’t look the way you pictured. You can always paint, redecorate, and change out light fixtures to reflect your style. Just recognize the difference between easy-to-make aesthetic changes and more expensive, structural ones.
Take Things Seriously, But Have Fun
Buying a house can be stressful. There is so much to think about, and you will probably wake up in the middle of the night more than once wondering if you’ll ever find the right home or get all the little details ironed out. However, it’s also a fun, exciting process—especially when you’re doing it for the very first time.
Lexington is a vibrant city, and whether you’re starting out there for the first time or you’ve been there all your life, this new chapter of your life in your new house is sure to bring plenty of excitement. No matter how stressful things get, just think of how you’ll feel when you walk over your very own threshold for the first time.