There’s a true story about a group of soldiers on a training exercise that got lost in the Alps.

They were hungry and disoriented.  They argued about which way to go, but in the fading light every mountain peak looked the same.

The soldiers had little chance of surviving the night in the freezing temperatures.

Suddenly:  a miracle!  One of them found a map sewn into the lining of his kitbag.  He plotted a route and marched them briskly back to base.

Later, when they were warm and well fed, the soldier looked closer at his map.  It was a map of the Pyrenees, hundreds of mile away.  Not a map of the Alps at all.

When you’re lost and not sure which way to go…start walking.

As a first-time home buyer, you may feel like you have no idea how to buy your first home, how the overall purchasing process works or how to make sure you’re making a smart decision to purchase.  And you’ll probably be very surprised to learn how much work is actually involved just to buy a home.   

But even if you feel like you’re lost in the Alps there is a path to your new home.  Here’s a few plots on the map to point you in the right direction:

Get Your Bearings and Explore

This is the starting point on your map and you can spend as much time here as you like.  And you’ll want to spend some time here actually because once you step off the trail, real estate can quickly become a confusing jungle with no clear way through.  That’s why it’s important that you make sure you know what you want before you set out.  

So, start big at this point.  Imagine your own personal dream home. Look up pictures and floor plans online and drive through residential neighborhoods to get inspired.  Once you have a pretty good idea of what your ideal home would be it’s time to start being a little more realistic.

It’s unlikely that the first house you buy will also be the last.  And it may not have every single feature you’ve always dreamed of.  So, just like a novice backpacker doesn’t try to through-hike the Appalachian Trail, think carefully about what you can afford to take on, what’s available in your area, and what you’d be willing to live without.  

This doesn’t mean you have to settle for the first house you find.  Pick out a few non-negotiable features that you simply must have.   Think of them like landmarks on your house-hunting journey.  Keep your eye on them and make sure you’re heading in the right direction, even if you end up compromising on a few smaller points.

Find A Guide

Anyone can look up pictures online without help from a professional.  But once you’re ready to start moving forward you’re going to need some advice.

Your own search should have given you an idea of what kind of square footage you can afford or how school districts affect pricing but a real estate agent will be much more knowledgeable about all the intricacies of buying a house.

You should also talk to a mortgage lender at this point.  You may already have a budget in mind for your first home, but a mortgage lender will take an in-depth look at your finances and let you know exactly what loans you’re eligible for.

This information, combined with the expertise of your real estate agent, should give you a much more definite idea of the home you can afford and be happy in.

Start Moving Forward

By this point you should have your compass oriented, your landmarks in your site and be pretty definite on where you are and where you want to go.  The only thing left is to get there.

Buying a house can be a long journey.  There are bound to be a few disappointments along the way.  You might see a few houses leave the market that you were seriously considering.  You might even get outbid on one.  Or, you might run into some challenges getting approved for a mortgage on the perfect house.  Take these setbacks in stride.  It’s all part of the house buying experience.  

Don’t let these disappointments push you into anything rash.  Just keep moving forward and don’t rush into anything.  Listen to the advice of your real estate agent before you commit to something.  You may get impatient along the way, but when you finally walk through the door of your first home, you’ll be glad you followed the route mapped out.

You might be surprised by how complicated buying a house can be.  It might sound like your Realtor is speaking a whole different language when they start throwing terms and numbers around.  At times you might feel like the soldier lost in the Alps.  

But just like him, once you find a map and mark a few key points, you’ll be able plot a route that will lead you safely to your new home.

Still not sure where to start?  Click here to schedule a free strategy call.