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I'm a real estate agent and investor — here are my 8 best pieces of advice for first-time homebuyers


Dana Bull is a realtor and real estate investor based in Massachusetts. She aims to help homebuyers make smart, strategic purchases. Bull advises first-time buyers to build a team of experts, scrutinize their finances, and remain in control throughout the ...


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Tech Finance Politics Strategy Life All Tech Finance Politics Strategy Life All (function() { 'use strict'; // Notify the DFP code that a new ad has just been rendered amplify.publish('adRender'); }()); × From To You have successfully emailed the post. × I'm a real estate agent and investor — here are my 8 best pieces of advice for first-time homebuyers Dana Bull, Contributor Dec24, 2017, 10:05 AM 30,447 facebook linkedin twitter email print Avoid trying to keep up with the Joneses(Pictured: Dana Bull). Courtesy of Dana Bull Dana Bull is a realtor and real estate investor based in Massachusetts. She aims to help homebuyers make smart, strategic purchases. Bull advises first-time buyers to build a team of experts, scrutinize their finances, and remain in control throughout the process.   Buying a home or investing in real estate is one of the most expensive and life-altering decisions most people make. Since it's not a topic that's heavily touched upon in school, most people end up "winging it" and learning on the fly their first time around. Sure, that's one way to approach itA better way is to get familiar with important concepts and practices that can help you make sound buying decisions and avoid costly mistakes. As a real estate agent, investor, and coach, I've been through countless transactions with clientsMy goal is always to provide a framework for buyers to make smart, strategic purchases. Here are my eight best pieces of advice for first-time buyers: 1Get educated on the homebuying process No matter how you slice it, buying a house is a complex processThere are a lot of moving parts — from submitting an offer and obtaining a mortgage to securing homeowners insurance and closing on the property. More often than not, I see first-time buyers jump into it all without understanding the process at a high levelWhile no one expects you to know all of the ins and outs, it's beneficial to be aware of the major milestones and key players involved in a transaction. 2Develop a real estate plan I've seen people spend more time mapping out their weekly meal plans than their real estate objectivesBuying a piece of property impacts many aspects of your future and it's worth taking the time to investigate loan programs and neighborhoods, and to learn about the full spectrum of housing options. Do you love post it notes, folders, and to-do lists? If you're an organized person who likes to plan, now is your time to shineHaving a high-level roadmap gives you direction and keeps you focused on your goalsIt always helps to write down what you want to accomplish, the steps it will take to get there, and to come up with a realistic timeline to make it all happen. 3Vet and hire experts As a buyer, you are only as strong as your weakest link and you want to build a winning team of experts to guide and advocate on your behalf. I would estimate that some of my real estate transactions have over 100 people involvedA lot are administrative personnel working behind the scenes, but a few are heavy hitters — there are realtors, loan officers, attorneys, escrow and title agents, just to name a few. Note: just because your friend has a real estate license and makes you laugh at brunch, doesn't mean she should be advising you in one of the biggest financial and emotional decisions to dateBuild your team wisely. 4Explore your housing options The biggest mistake home shoppers make is getting distracted by appliances and finishes. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu A single-family home is still the American dream for many of usBut, it's not your only option. It's worth considering other housing types, like a condo/townhouse or a multi-family propertyThere are significant differences in these home styles and unless you weigh out the pros and cons, you may miss a golden opportunity. 5Scrutinize your finances Trying to keep up with the Joneses is a real thing in our cultureIt's not uncommon for people, and especially young buyers, to stretch beyond their financial means in order to purchase a homeThis can become a slippery slopeThere's no need to set yourself up for failure and unnecessary stress by putting yourself in a position where it's going to be hard to make ends meet. Even though a bank may pre-approve you for a high loan amount, it doesn't mean you need to max out your budgetBy carefully scrutinizing your expenses, you may realize that you should be both spending and borrowing less. 6Focus on value as much as location We've all heard the expression that real estate is all about "location, location, location." I couldn't agree more that the geographical area where you buy has a huge impact on your lifestyle and your investing strategy, but I would also argue that finding a good value for your dollar is just as important. The biggest mistake I see home shoppers make is getting distracted by shiny objects, like stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops. Don't buy a house because it has nice barn doorsYou can add these trendy décor accents into a spaceInstead, you want to analyze the things that you can't easily change — overall square footage, the plot the house sits on, and the neighborhood. Don't forget to take a deeper look and assess the big ticket items like roofs, plumbing, electricalAlthough not nearly as sexy as a dual shower head, this is where your money is actually going. 7Advocate for yourself Caveat emptor — meaning "buyer beware" — was once a popular term used in the real estate industry to stress that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of a home before the purchase is madeOver the years, laws have tightened up to protect consumersNaturally, this makes it easier to point blame when things go wrongTrust me, in my earlier days investing in real estate I was guilty of this myselfThe blame game isn't good for anyone and having that mindset is useless. Know that as a buyer, you are your best advocate and you are accountable for the decisions that you makeDo your research and take advantage of your due diligence period to ensure you are confident in your real estate endeavors. 8Remember: You are in control In this crazy hot market, it's easy to get carried away in the drama of multi-bidding wars and spending more than you can affordThere's no doubt that you have to be aggressive and proactive these days, but not to the point of losing controlRemember, you are in the driver's seat. Having a plan, knowing the process, building a good team, analyzing your finances, and doing your research will help during times of chaos. SEE ALSO: A 27-year-old realtor who owns 8 rental properties reveals her best tip for becoming a real estate investor DON'T MISS: America's future depends on the death of the single-family home NOW WATCH: 1,500 happily married people say the key to lasting relationships isn’t communication — it’s respect More: Real Estate Advice Real Estate Agent Real estate investor Dana Bull realtor homebuying First-Time Home Buyers facebook linkedin twitter email print --> window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({mode:'thumbs-1r', container:'taboola-below-main-column', placement:'below-main-column'}); Recommended For You Powered by Sailthru I'm a real estate agent and investor — here are my 8 best pieces of advice for first-time homebuyers I'm a real estate agent and investor — here are my 8 best pieces of advice for first-time homebuyers Dana Bull is a realtor and real estate investor... 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