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The First Steps to Buying Your First Property

row of colourful houses

If you’re setting yourself up to buy your first real estate: congratulations! There’s truly no better way to use your money than to invest in bricks and mortar, whether you’ll be using the residence as your primary home or renting it out as a business endeavor.

However, as you’re embarking on an entirely new path, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the process and procedures involved in buying your first home. From initial searches, up to signing on the dotted line, you’ll have to make many high stakes decisions, and you’ll learn countless lessons along the way. Here are the first steps you’ll need to take.

Consider what you want

Going into the property market, chances are you’ll have lofty ideals as to what sort of property you’ll be able to find. Whilst it’s good to dream, it also pays to be realistic and have a strong understanding of how far your money will go in the area you’re looking to buy in.

Before you start looking, establish which home features are non-negotiable for you (i.e., that the property has to have) and which would be an added bonus, but wouldn’t be a deal breaker when it came down to deciding whether or not to purchase.

Having a clear understanding of the difference between these two will enable you to make informed, practical decisions about the homes you view. Yes, it’s important to feel emotionally drawn to a property, but if it doesn’t provide one of your much-demanded aspects, then it’s likely not the right investment for you to make. 

Establish a realistic budget

Of course, before you make any moves, you should consider how much money you have to spend on your first home. Perhaps you’re a cash buyer, with a bulk sum of money waiting in the bank. Otherwise, you’ll be buying through financial support such as a mortgage. Popular opinion is that cash buyers have the upper hand, as they can process sales more efficiently and quickly. Yet, you may find that in your local area, or indeed on a house-by-house basis, this general rule doesn’t apply. If you’re a cash buyer, don’t assume that you’ll win negotiations simply on this basis.

Do some research on the area you’re looking to buy in — how often to houses sell at, below, or above the guide real estate price? If there’s a trend of homes selling above the advertised price tag, you may need to reconsider the type of property you’ll be able to attain for yourself.

Focus on a search on a finite area

Hopefully, you’ll find an abundance of properties with your desired qualities, and at your achievable price, for sale in your city or state. That’s why, where you can, you should focus your search on a finite area, to help you manage the number of choices you have available to you.

Is it important for you to live somewhere with good transport links? Do you have, or plan to have, children, who will need to be close to a local school? Would having bars and restaurants only a walking distance away fit nicely into your current lifestyle? Asking yourself these sorts of questions will help you narrow down a search field and find a property that suits you now, and into the future.

Find a realtor who understands what you’re looking for

As your key partner in your real estate search, you’ll want to find a realtor who truly understands what is important for you and respects your wants and needs. Don’t be afraid to trial a few different realtors before deciding which one to go the distance with. A good realtor will have you front of mind when a new property comes into their portfolio and will fight tooth and nail to get you the purchase you desire.

Remember that the “perfect house” doesn’t exist

Undoubtedly, house hunting can be exhausting, especially if you’ve never done it before. You may begin to feel disheartened, or like you’ll never find the one you are looking for. Yet, remember, buying property is a huge investment and shouldn’t be taken lightly; so have patience and stay level-headed.

Remember, also, that the “perfect house” doesn’t exist. Whichever property you end up purchasing will need to be tweaked in some way to make it ideal for you and your unique taste. If you’re a keen cook, then you’ll want a kitchen with wow factor. Nevertheless, don’t reject a house that you love in all other ways, just because the kitchen isn’t up to scratch. If you’ve got enough money left in your budget, you can redesign the kitchen to be precisely what you’re dreaming of.


Try to avoid attending real estate viewings alone

Where you can, try to avoid visiting real estate viewing alone. With any luck, your realtor will be available to attend all viewings with you, but if they can’t, ask a friend or family member to accompany you.

The more homes you view, the harder it will be to decipher the differences and feel excited about the property’s potential. Having a second pair of eyes will provide valuable feedback and further opinion for you to base your decisions on.

If you do need to attend some properties solo, consider taking notes at the end of the viewing appointment so you can go back and remember the details of each individual property. What did you like about it? What wasn’t working for you? Did you feel the price was appropriate, too high or too low?

Ask locals for their opinion of the neighborhood 

Most property viewings last around fifteen to twenty minutes, or perhaps thirty minutes at a maximum. Of course, this isn’t enough time to get a feel of the local area, so don’t be afraid to ask the neighbors or other people you see on your way down the street, what they think about the neighborhood.

Does it feel safe? How long have they lived there? Would they recommend the area to their friends? Don’t forget; you’re buying a little slice of life there, so you want to make sure you’re not in for any nasty surprises.

Plus If you are thinking of buying a property in a foreign country, such as Ireland or the Netherlands, here are some useful guides on real estate due diligence in Ireland or how to buy a Dutch property. In case you are interested in finding and buying a property in an Asian country, for example Singapore, check out this detailed article about buying a property in Singapore.