How to Seal the Deal on Your First Home

You found the home you love! Now for the stressful part, negotiating a price and waiting for everything to be finalized! 

Put in an offer

Once you find the right home it's time to start talking money! Putting in an offer doesn't guarantee that you'll get the house, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. There are different offer strategies that either go in below, at, or above asking and they all have different pros and cons. A lot of your strategy is going to depend on the market in your area. If you're in a seller's market, then the homeowner has a lot of other options. They might not look twice at your offer if you come in below asking. But if you're in a buyers market you have more flexibility to negotiate and get a great price on your home. 

If you're not sure what you should offer, your real estate agent or Realtor should be able to give you some advice on how far below asking you can start with. 

More: Are you thinking about offering below asking price? See how low you can go

Get an inspection

If there's one rule to keep in mind when you're buying a home it's never ever, under any circumstances, skip the inspection. It doesn't matter if the seller is trustworthy, your best friend, or even your mom.

We're not saying sellers are going to try to hide things from you, but they might honestly not know about some of the issues in the house. There could be a hidden termite problem, faulty wiring, or any number of other problems that are going to cost you a lot to fix down the road.

Even if the inspection comes back perfect, it's still a great opportunity to learn about your house. Your inspector can tell you things like where the main water shutoff is, how to work the fuse box, and when you might need a new roof. 

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Have a contingency plan 

At this point, you're probably so excited that you're willing to overlook something that could end up being a big deal later on. That's where a contingency clause in your sale agreement comes in. That clause might say you can back out of the sale if the inspection turns up plumbing problems or termite damage or it might say that the owners need to paint over the puke green exterior with something less...pukey before you buy.

Not every sale has a contingency, so you'll want to be careful. For example, if you're in a sellers' market it's probably fine to make a clean inspection a contingency, but painting the house because you hate the color might make your seller go with a different buyer. Ask your Realtor what contingencies are common in your area and what you should be asking for. 

More: What can you ask for? What happens if they say no? Learn all about contingencies

Say goodbye to the renter life

Wouldn't it be great if you could move into your new home the same day the lease on your apartment is up? But timing like that only happens in fairy tales and Disney movies. Chances are you're going to have some overlap and you need to be prepared. That might mean finding a subletter for your old place or it might mean paying both rent and a mortgage payment for a month or two.

It's something that a lot of people overlook, so be sure you're planning ahead for it. No one wants to start life in their new home with an overdrawn bank account because they forget that they'd still need to pay their rent. 

More: Don't lose money on your old apartment. Use these tips to get out of your rental agreement

Up next: Caring for your new home

You did it! You're officially a homeowner! Time to start decorating, remodeling, and maintaining it. Get our tips on how to care for your new home