Making the leap from renting a home in Nashville to buying a home in Nashville can be intimidating. It’s a major decision, a major investment, and something that, as a first-time buyer, you have no experience with.
Feeling nervous beforehand — and making a few decisions you’re not totally happy with later — is understandable. But our goal, as Nashville real estate agents, is to take as much intimidation out of the process as possible, and to give you all the tools you need to make decisions you’re happy with. We’re here to deliver experiences, information, guidance and advocacy, through closing day and beyond.
Over years of working with homebuyers in Nashville, we’ve found that many go into their second home purchase with common first-time regrets. In hopes of helping you avoid those mistakes, here are the ones we’ve seen the most:
Not handling financial prep before househunting
In the busy Nashville market, this is key: You want (need, really) to be ready to put in a strong offer before you walk through the first door.
That means getting pre-approved for a mortgage, so you’re set as a serious/ready buyer, and clear on what your budget really is.
But even before that, we’d really recommend taking time to check your credit reports, and correct any discrepancies. This can take some time, but your credit score is a big driver when it comes to what you qualify for, mortgage-wise. You might be surprised how often mishaps end up on your reports, unfairly driving down your score (this is particularly true if you’re a Junior — dads’ stuff gets misfiled all the time). Do the financial prep work ahead of time, so you’re in the best place you can be.
Underestimating your monthly costs
To go along with the above: Your mortgage payment is the start of your monthly home expenses. There’s a lot more to consider, and you need to take the full span into account to set a reasonable budget.
Taxes, HOA fees and utilities all go in to what you can afford, as does the regular maintenance that comes with homeownership.
Your buyers agent can help you get a sense of what taxes will look like in your chosen area/budget, and advise you about any HOA fees for homes you’re looking at. A collaborative site like this can help you get a ballpark sense of utilities; if you find a home you’re in love with, your Realtor can inquire about the homeowner’s past utility costs.
As far as maintenance goes, you’ll see different recommendations, but it usually ranges from saving one to four percent of your home’s cost, annually.
Adding this all up gives you a more reasonable view of what you can afford, and helps keep you from ending up “house poor,” and stress rich.
Bankrupting yourself for a down payment
This goes with the above. Saving a 20 percent down payment is a great goal, and a great way to approach buying a home in Nashville. But if it means that it’s completely cleaning you out financially, you’re running the risk of overextending yourself.
You might consider slimming your budget a little, or exploring different mortgage options. (Most buyers don’t want an adjustable rate mortgage, but if you’re sure you’re relocating in the next five years or so, maybe that’s an option for you. Worthwhile topics to discuss with your lender.)
Getting stuck on a location
We totally get having a dream neighborhood, and we’d never want to steer a buyer away from an area they really love. But hear us out: It’s worth at least considering your Realtor’s advice, and checking out another area or two before you lock your mind up.
A good Realtor who knows what you want and like (and knows the city) might surprise you with an area that has a ton to offer, and homes in your budget that give you more room to grow.
Getting stuck on the small stuff while househunting
People who’ve owned a home for a while tend to yell at HGTV shows over this. It’s natural: Aesthetics and finishes draw us in to a home, so when we walk into outdated light fixtures and iffy paint colors, we get turned off (that’s why we put those on our list of things you should do to get your home ready to sell). Those little turnoffs make us overlook the things that are really important, like location, space and condition.
Fixtures, paint, even flooring are pretty easy to change. And ultimately, they’ll affect you a lot less than flow, square footage, number of beds/baths and other, bigger considerations that are harder (and much more expensive) to change.
Overestimating DIY abilities/availability
Another one we thoroughly relate to — everyone on our team has a heart for polishing a diamond in the rough. But in the Pinterest age, a lot of us get fired-up and inspired but underestimate how much time and money it’ll take to conquer a list of DIY (or hire-it-out projects).
We’re not saying you shouldn’t buy that fixer-upper you’re smitten with. Just be realistic about that choice. Renovation projects are a big investment, on every level, and it’s best to do a lot of research and be honest with yourself about how much expense and inconvenience — and how many lost weekends — you can put up with before your will breaks.
Taking on major renovation projects too soon
Another regret a lot of first-time homeowners share with us: jumping into big, expensive projects immediately, and six months later, feeling like they’d have done it differently, or chosen different projects altogether.
If you’re buying a house to gut and overhaul, this might not apply. But if you’re planning to renovate bit by bit, the thing we hear the most is: “I wish I would’ve just lived here a little while before I made any decisions.”
We see that as advice worth considering. Give yourself a little time to really get in touch with what you want in and from this particular house, then get your projects going, with more familiarity informing your decisions.
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We love working with first-time homebuyers in Nashville, and helping you make a big decision that you’re happy and comfortable with, now and for years to come. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the Nashville area, reach out and tell us about your plans. We’d love to help.
Another easy way to get started: Fill out our quick “Buy a home in Nashville” form.