Texas Living

The First-Timers Guide to House Hunting

By Valirie Morgan 8.24.16

Home, sweet home! As a first-time homebuyer in Texas, shopping for the house of your dreams can be an overwhelming process that’s both exciting and stressful. Even fans of real estate TV shows or buyers with relatives who are brokers probably have a lot of questions about the process. Hopefully this guide to finding and buying your first home will help along the way.

Starting your search

  • Prioritize your needs and wants. Between your budget and your wish list, you likely need to compromise to find your perfect home. Make a list of the must-have features of your house compared to the things that you’d like, but could survive without.

  • Consider using a real-estate agent. As a first-time homebuyer, it helps to have a real-estate agent guide you through the process. Find the right agent by asking friends and neighbors for recommendations, and ask potential agents about their certifications and how many homes they’ve sold in your area.

  • Figure out the financials. Do the math to determine a reasonable budget for your home purchase, and calculate what you can afford in monthly mortgage payments. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your mortgage, taxes, and insurance costs between 25 to 30 percent of your pretax income. Help inform your budget by getting pre-approved for a loan so that you know how much you expect to borrow.

  • Get a copy of your credit report. Look it over and make sure any errors are fixed before you apply for a home loan.

Hunting for a home

  • Save money for a down payment. Doing so will strengthen your eventual offer and give you leverage in negotiations.

  • Keep an open mind. Look beyond things like ugly paint color — it’s an easy and inexpensive fix, and if you get hung up on insignificant issues, you’ll have a much harder time finding the right home.

  • Ask questions. Find out as much as you can about a home you’re considering before putting in an offer. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification when you start putting in offers and signing legal documents.

Closing the deal

  • Understand the offer process. When you put in an offer, be prepared for some back-and-forth negotiation between you and the seller, and make sure your offer includes contingencies like property inspection.

  • Get an inspection. If a problem is discovered, use it to continue negotiating with the seller. For instance, finding out that the home has a roof in disrepair can allow you to negotiate a price reduction and get a better deal.

  • Protect your investment. Once you have the home appraisal, talk to your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent about finding the right homeowners policy for your property.

Buying a house can be a confusing process, but when you find your perfect place to call home, it’s well worth the work you’ve put in. Before you set out that welcome mat, give your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent a call to discuss your homeowners insurance options and protect your biggest investment.