Being a first-time homebuyer can cause a lot of stress – but it doesn’t have to! Seattle Times has tips to avoid any of your homebuying fears by becoming an educated buyer. If you are prepared before looking at houses and surround yourself with professionals the process can be an enjoyable experience which will blossom into a fond memory.

The first step of the process is to be realistic. When you purchase a home, you may think you are switching from paying rent to paying a mortgage, but there is a lot more to it than that. On top of your mortgage you will have to consider new expenses along with changed expenses, like mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, property taxes, maintenance and higher utility bills.

One way to combat these upcoming expenses is to know what you will be able to afford. Instead of going out and looking at houses first, it is important to get prequalified for a loan to determine what a practical price range is. An experienced lender will be able to give you advice regarding bills you can anticipate and what added expenses you will incur on top of the mortgage.

A mortgage lender is the first of many professionals who will make the process easier. Once they help you choose an appropriate budget, you should hire a trusted real estate agent (this is where I come in). Once you are ready to start house hunting, a good real estate agent is key when it comes to finding the perfect house to make your home. I will work with you to stay within budget, give unsolicited advice and be a friend to guide you through your journey.

Ready to buy but don’t have enough savings? Consider waiting until you have enough so that you aren’t spreading yourself too thin. Ask any seasoned homeowner and they will say that you shouldn’t use all of your savings on your down payment. Just as things happen in life, things happen when you own a house. Whether it is a broken appliance or leaky roof (we are in Seattle), it is always better to be safe than sorry and make sure you’re equipped to weather any storm.

The last piece of advice offered by Seattle Times is to wait to celebrate becoming a homeowner until after the deal closes. You may have qualified for the loan in the first place but remember that, “lenders pull credit reports before the closing to make sure the borrower’s financial situation has not changed since the loan was approved.” This includes big purchases which require financing, like cars or new furniture.

These five tips are sure to help you get on track to purchasing your first home in a responsible way that will cause less stress. While the article offered great advice I have one last tip: Contact me when you are ready to jump into a new home!