6 Tips for First Time Home Buyers in Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati

Hey everyone! It’s Eric Sztanyo from Keller Williams Realty and TeamSztanyo.com, where we are helping families find their way home. While we know being a first time homebuyer can be an intimidating process, it is also extremely exciting! So, if you are a first time home buyer, don’t be nervous. Team Sztanyo has you covered! Today, we will be going over 6 Tips for First Time Home Buyers in the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati area.

From the financial aspect of the process to actually going to view homes, we are going to cover some of the most important aspects of buying a home in today’s market. Below is a short video to serve as your guide that dives into important tips for first time home buyers.

6 Tips For First Time Home Buyers

I still vividly remember the day that I bought my first home. I remember being extremely sweaty and nervous while signing each of the documents. I felt like I was signing my life away! I was just so excited to finally be getting out of my apartment and having a place that was all mine. If you are ready to make the leap from renting to owning, follow these 6 tips to ensure an easy and seamless first time home buying experience.

Tip #1 – Get a Pre-Approval Letter

Tip number one is talk to a lender and get a pre-approval letter. To do this, you will need to set an appointment with a lender of your choice, they will assess your income, debt to income ratio, and many other factors. Once they have done this, they will give you a pre-approval letter based off of what they believe you can afford.

Before even considering going to see a lender, you will need to save up a little bit of money and pay your debt down as much as possible. If you do not take these steps first, the lender may not qualify you as being in a position to buy a house or may not give you as big of a loan as you were hoping for.

preapproval letter from bank - getting financed as a first time homebuyer

Having a pre-approval letter is extremely important as it shows sellers that a) you are qualified to buy their home and b) you are serious about buying a home. It is also important to have a pre-approval letter so that you know what you can afford. You do not want to be in a position where you find your dream home only to find out that you cannot afford it.

In the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati real estate market, demand for homes right now is very high. This means that the market is competitive and houses are going FAST. Because of this, the chance of a competitively priced home going into multiple offers is high. So if you go into a situation where you are competing against other offers, no matter how competitive your offer is, the seller may not pick your offer without proof of a pre-approval letter.

Tip #2 – Interview and Hire a Real Estate Agent

Tip number two, make sure you interview and select a real estate agent to work with. Did you know that when you’re working with a buyer’s agent, the agent is actually paid for by the seller? The seller is responsible for paying the listing agent a commission that covers both the buying and listing agent. So what does that mean?! It means that for you, a buyer, a real estate agent is FREE. That’s right, it does not cost you a single thing to utilize a buyer’s real estate agent.

However, just because your buyer’s agent does not cost you anything does not mean this person will not be extremely important in your home buying experience. In fact, this person could make or break this entire experience for you. To ensure that you pick the right agent for you, it is important to do your research and ask your family and friends for suggestions. When looking for an agent, look for someone who is competent and who has experience. Another important thing to look for in an agent is that it is someone that you actually like and enjoy being around as you will be spending a lot of time with or talking to this person throughout the process.

So, not only do you want to pick an agent that is great at their job, but also someone that could actually make this process enjoyable for you. We highly suggest that you call around and meet with a few agents before making your final decision. If you are looking for a Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati Real Estate agent, check out Team Sztanyo’s Client Reviews to get a feel of what it is like to work with us!

Tip # 3 – Identify the Top 5 Criteria that Matters to You

top criteria for buying a home - tips for first time homebuyers

Tip number three is to identify the top 5 criteria that matters to you. What I mean by this is make a list of the top 5 things that matter to you in a home (e.g. must have at least 3 beds, must have hardwood floors, or must be on one acre). Obviously, these are things that very from client to client, but this is where you give your agent a clear idea of what your MUST HAVES are.

After you have your top five, begin to list others things that you would like the home to have but are not deal breakers. From this list, we will build your search around this criteria and hopefully, find the perfect home.

Tip #4 – Research Neighborhoods

Tip number four is to research different neighborhoods and area that you are interested in. Before doing this you must first decide what is important to you. Are school districts important to you? Do you want to be close to the more urban stores and restaurants? Would you rather be in a more rural area? Wherever it may be, it is important to narrow this down so we can start focusing on those areas. A great resource that we use to look into neighborhoods here at Team Sztanyo is Niche.com. This website makes it easy to look into and compare different things such as school districts, nightlife, and overall safety of an area.

As someone who has lived here their entire life, I would be happy to help you pinpoint the perfect Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati area or neighborhood.

6 Tips for First Time Home Buyers in Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati

Tip # 5 – Go and View Homes!

Tip number five is go and view some homes! Hopefully at this point, you are pre-approved, working with the perfect agent, and have decided what you want in a home. Now, it is time to go and see some for yourself! It is likely that your agent will have you set up on an MLS portal where homes that fit your criteria and budget are being sent directly to you.

When you come across a few that you are interested in viewing, let your agent know and they will set up a time. During this process, it is common that you may alter what you initially names as your top five criteria. You may come to find that the things you thought would matter most aren’t as important as you had thought. This is why it is so important to go and view homes, it really helps you to see what you like and what you do not like. Either way, always keep an open dialogue with you agent to ensure you remain on the same page of what you are looking for.

When viewing homes as a first time home buyer, depend on your real estate agent heavily. More often than not, first time home buyers do not know what they are looking for in terms of any potential problems with the home. However, most agents have eyes that can see these potential problems and give you forewarning.

Unfortunately, it is common for some agents to only comment on potential problems if asked. Because of this, it is important to ask EVERY question that comes to mind. Also, before entering into potential homes, ask your agent to let you know if they see anything that would be considered a red flag.

The big things to look out for as a first time home buyers that may cause concern would be water damage, foundation damage, or obvious electrical issues.

Tip #6 – Make a Competitive Offer

Tip number six is when you find the perfect home, that you’re ready to move forward on is make a competitive offer. What does this mean? This means that yet again, you will have to heavily rely on your real estate agent to know your particular area and market. As of now in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, coming out of COVID-19, the inventory for homes is super low. This creates high demand from buyers.

Like I previously mentioned, this often causes homes to go into multiple offers where the seller is able to hand pick the offer with terms they like the best. Because of this, it is extremely important that your offer is competitive and stands out to the seller. You may even want to consider shopping under your budget so that you can potentially go over asking price if need be.

Other terms that could make your offer stand out would include a quick closing date, the amount of earnest money you put down, or even waiving the home inspection. In some cases, we even have our buyers write a personalized letter to the sellers, it is sometimes helpful to tug on the heartstrings of the sellers when in a bidding war.

living room - tips for first time homebuyers - guide

Good Luck Buying Your First Home!

So there you have it everyone! 6 Tips for First Time Home Buyers in Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati. We hope this was helpful for you as you go out shopping for a home! If you are in the Northern Kentucky or Cincinnati area and you are ready to buy your first home, let Team Sztanyo help you! Give us a call today at (513) 813- 6293. Thanks so much guys and good luck!!

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