Vermont First Time Buyer's Guide
Whether you’re a first time home buyer or an experienced buyer – the home buying process can be daunting for many people. Understanding the home buying process as well as the local market conditions will help make your dream of home ownership a reality. Our Realtors have sold more homes in Chittenden County than any other firm – and we’ve used this experience to pull together some tips to get you started.
: What You Can Afford
Know what you can afford
Before you go shopping for your dream home in Vermont – go shopping for a mortgage! Meet with a local
mortgage advisor to review your options and know how much you can afford. Your Vermont mortgage provider will explain different mortgage programs available to you based on your financial situation. With your pre-approval in hand, you’ll have more confidence that you can actually afford the home you fall in love with. Here are links to a few resources and tools to help you get started.
Step 2: Know the Local Market Conditions
As you begin your home search you’ll quickly realize there is no such thing as a “national real estate market”. Just like our weather conditions, employment opportunities, and even our quality of life is distinctly different in Vermont and the Greater Burlington area – so is our real estate market. In fact, real estate market conditions may vary by price range you're in; from town to town; and possibly neighborhood by neighborhood. Familiarize yourself with is happening in the neighborhoods you’re interested in; with the type of property you’re looking for; and particularly within the price range you are looking in. Often people will talk about whether it is a "buyers market" or a "sellers market". Once again, it's important to know the conditions of the specific market area you are searching in. Talk to a Realtor and find out what you need to know about the current market.
Step 3: Prioritize Your Criteria
We've all done it: dreamed about our perfect home; fantasized about the huge yard; imagined a gathering with friends and family in the chef's kitchen. As you begin your search, it's important to be realistic about what it is that you are truly looking for to help you narrow down your search. Rate the features that you are looking for on a scale of 'Must Have' to 'Can Live Without'. Consider what features are critical to your lifestyle:
- Location: do you need to be near your work or are you willing to drive a little?
- Number of bedrooms: how many bedrooms do you need?
- Fixer Upper: are you handy and willing to make some repairs or would you prefer to turn the key & move right in?
- Older home vs. Newer Construction: some people love the history of an older home, but may not be able to do the upkeep required.
Not only are these good things to think about when it comes to narrowing your search, but they are also important criteria to think about as they relate to how long you may live in the property and how much you are willing to spend on monthly expenses.
Step 4: Beginning Your Search
See Open Houses this Weekend
According to the National Association Realtors
study of Home Buyers & Sellers, 87% of buyers used the Internet in their home search. Likewise, 48% of buyers attended Open Houses during their search. Newspaper ads, yard signs, and magazines are also great sources. But, when it came down to how buyers actually found the home they were looking for – the majority of buyers (34%) used a Realtor. Depending on your circumstances, you may begin your home search 12 – 18 months in advance. Undoubtedly you will, and should, use all of the resources available to you to find your home.
With that said, use caution. Not all websites have current information on the local housing market. We’ve found a few national sites like Zillow.com, Goolge.com/base, and Cyberhomes.com may offer great features – but often the data is not current. So, as you search – be aware. The most reliable source you have for current and local market information is your local Realtor.
Step 5: Your VT Home Buying Team
You'll often hear that your home will be one of your greatest investments. To help you with some of the decisions you're about to face and to help you navigate through, what can be, a complex process - you'll benefit from having the right team, with the right experience on your side. Your home buying team should consist of experienced, local professionals. Ask a friend or a co-worker for a recommendation. Feel free to call around, ask questions, and interview people to be on your team. Having someone you feel comfortable with and relate to will go a long way in the process. You'll need to think of the following professionals to help you:
- Mortgage Advisor
- Real Estate Attorney
- Home Inspector