Whether you’re buying an investment 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! And then you’ve heard the horror stories and how fast the market is moving and you’re wondering if you can even compete!
Drown out that noise, and adopt an abundant mindset, because 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 one 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:
Step 1. Figure out what your goals are.
Are you buying a personal residence? Is it a house hack that you will rent out 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 now (and also know what your long term goals and plans are) because this will largely define what your budget is. For example, if you’re house-hacking, you need to make sure that you can cash flow when you rent the property a year after purchase. If you’re buying this as a personal residence, and it’s your forever home, then you 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.
Step 2. Speak to a great lender.
You need someone who understands investments, someone who doesn’t just care about the sale. You want to find someone who will be willing to listen to you and understand your goals, and give you a product that works best for you. You might not find this person right away, and that’s okay! Not all lenders are created equal. Keep looking until you find the one that you want. Seriously, don’t be afraid to shop around.
Step 3. Finalize your budget.
Once you found the great lender that I referred to above, you can 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 $1100 because you will have a negative cash flow every month.
Step 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.
Step 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 that you’re looking for, move on to step six.
Check out this Cash Flow Analysis Calculator so you don’t miss any expenses!
Step 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 so that it 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.
So, that’s it. Simple, basic, straight-forward. 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, and 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.