Purchasing a home for the first time can be one of life’s most exciting milestones, and in 2020 first-time homebuyers made up 31% of all buyers.1 However, there are several things that first-time homebuyers should be aware of before diving into their search for the perfect residence.

1) Know Your Budget
The median home value in Nebraska is $167,977 and 43% of homes are valued between $117,255 and $234,410.2 What are you comfortable paying for your monthly house payment? Keep in mind that a payment includes the principal, interest, taxes, homeowner’s insurance, possibly mortgage insurance, and Home Owner’s Association fees. Closing costs and other fees can surprise first-time homebuyers and add up when buying a home, so make sure these are factored into your budget.

2) Organize Your Documents
First-time homebuyers will have a lot of documents to sort out! Some of the needed paperwork includes the last two years’ tax returns and W2s, recent paystubs, all pages of the last two months of bank statements, and contact information for landlords for the last two years.

3) Get Pre-Qualified
In many cases, prospective first-time homebuyers will not even be shown a home without a pre-qualified loan offer letter in hand. In this hot real estate market, a prequalification is a must for any first-time homebuyer to stay competitive. Real estate agents are also busy and want to make sure that you are serious as a prospective buyer. A prequalification letter is also a great way to know how much you may qualify for as you start your search and may help make the underwriting process smoother.

4) Find a Real Estate Agent
A Real Estate Agent will be with you throughout your entire homebuying journey, so first-time homebuyers will want to make sure that they are the right fit with their agent. Find someone who is a local Nebraska expert, who understands your needs and wants, and who will be your advocate.

5) Know Your Wants
Is square-footage important to you? How about the neighborhood? Popular areas to live in Nebraska include La Vista, Seward, Papillion, Gretna, and Kearney.3 The amount of choice can be overwhelming to first-time homebuyers, so having a defined list of wants and needs before you start looking for homes will keep your search on track.

6) Scrutinize Each House
It’s easy for first-time homebuyers to get dazzled by nice-looking things, however, it’s important to try to look past the allure of any attractive staging for imperfections in the home. Cracked walls, wonky floors, and exposed wiring could be signs that there are larger issues with the property.

7) Learn About the Community
Even if you do not have kids, being in an area with good schools will help with the resale value of the home. Resale value may not be top-of-mind for first-time homebuyers, but proximity to shopping, dining, and recreation areas can be both convenient and help with property value. The fastest-growing cities in Nebraska are Ralston, Gretna, and Omaha.4

8) Be Persistent
The average buyer looks at around 20 homes before finding the right one, so do not get discouraged. The search can be long, but ultimately rewarding. In today’s hot real estate market, patience is key for first-time homebuyers.

9) Compare Each Home
Look back at your list of wants and needs. Does the home you just toured check some of those boxes? All the boxes? As a first-time homebuyer, make sure that you are getting the house that fits you!

10) Watch Your Credit
Once you have been pre-qualified, keep making your normal payments, but do not apply for new credit or increase debts. Talk to your Loan Officer before doing anything that will affect your credit.

With these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to owning your first home! In a competitive market, this information could be the difference between a difficult experience and a successful search.

  1. Source: https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers
  2. Source: https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ne/real-estate
  3. Source: https://www.homesnacks.com/these-are-the-10-best-places-to-live-in-nebraska/
  4. Source: https://www.homesnacks.com/fastest-growing-cities-in-nebraska/