What Every First-Time Home Buyer Needs to Know

By Suzie Wilson

It’s easy to feel intimidated when you approach the home buying process for the first time. It can feel especially daunting when you’re entering a rabid housing market with low inventory. But like any major project, enjoying a smooth and successful home buying experience is all about doing your research and planning ahead.

Knowing what to expect will help you save money, avoid loan application headaches, and ensure you end up in a home that truly meets your needs. To help you navigate this big step, here are some great tips from Cozy Kitchens.

How Much Can You Afford?

Before you start house hunting, We suggest establishing a buying budget. Even if the banks are prepared to offer a loan well beyond your needs, buying more home than you can afford will set you up for serious financial issues down the road. Remember, a whole range of additional costs—mortgage insurance, bank fees, etc.—come with buying a home, so make sure you account for these in your budget.

Consider different types of properties and determine which purchase makes the most sense for your financial situation. For example, buying a plot of land and building a new home is an attractive idea, but this route can be a lot more pricey. Buyers on a budget may be tempted towards a fixer-upper, but there are downsides to this strategy as well. It is important to get a home inspection, work with a lawyer, and examine the land records if you decide to buy a property “as is”.

Take Advantage of Government Incentives

Fortunately, there are a host of loan programs available for first-time home buyers. There are several federal programs that you may qualify for that enable you to qualify for a mortgage if you have less than the typical 20% down payment expected by lenders. FHA loans, for example, can be obtained with as little as a 3.5% down payment.

Be Prepared to Compromise

Looking for your first home can be really exciting, but you must manage your expectations. No home is perfect, and there’s a good chance you’ll have to make some compromises on your purchase. Perhaps you find a beautiful home in a great location, but it lacks the big backyard you’ve always wanted. Are you willing to make this trade-off? If you hold out for your dream property, you might miss out on a pretty great home. Remember, you can always renovate a home to better suit your needs, including adding a room or calling on Cozy Kitchens to revamp the kitchen.

Research the Neighborhood

The location of your new home is just as important as the features of the home itself. Make sure you research the surrounding area of any property you’re considering. Better yet, visit the neighborhood in person so you can give it a proper evaluation. Pay attention to the home’s proximity to amenities and be sure to visit at different times of day to get a better idea of the traffic patterns and general safety of the area at night. Don’t be afraid to chat with people living nearby to find out what they like and dislike about the area!

Get a Home Inspection

Getting a property inspection is a key step in the home buying process and not one that you should skip in order to fast-track your purchase or save some money. CA Realty Training notes that a professional home inspector will be able to spot concerns that you might not know to look for.

The most important elements to inspect—like the roof, foundation, electrical, plumbing, and cooling systems—are not even accessible to the average home buyer, and these areas of the home can create major costs if problems arise. And while some of these can be easily addressed, such as waterproofing a basement or clearing clogged drains, a cracked foundation or an HVAC system in disrepair are cause for negotiations.

Buy a Home Warranty

Once you have your home, you have to mind its upkeep. Instead of running the risk of facing major expenses if a couple of appliances fail, explore the benefits of a home warranty. A home warranty can cover repairing or replacing your HVAC system, any plumbing or electrical problems, and a broken refrigerator or dishwasher. This will grant you peace of mind in your new home.

Navigating the home buying process as a first-time buyer can be a little intimidating. Take it one step at a time and don’t be afraid to ask your real estate agent for advice or guidance when you’re feeling lost. Knowledge and preparation will go a long way, so do your research and make sure you know what to expect!


Are you are looking to update your kitchen or bath, or add a cozy feel to another space in your home? Since 1977, Cozy Kitchens has helped customers transform their homes in the Outer Banks. Reach out for more info today! (252) 261-2696


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Cozy Kitchen's Customer Success Stories

jeffrey stafford
jeffrey stafford
Well displayed,large selection,friendly staff
Moms Sweet Shop
Moms Sweet Shop
Cozy designed and built the most beautiful custom cabinetry for our retail store front. We are constantly complemented on the display cases and cabinetry and many people ask us what the stone tops are that we used (Silestone quartz tops that look like honed marble) We get tons of compliments and we feel the case work is part of what makes our shop! Cozy has an experienced team who was on schedule with all of the delivery goals. We would happily use them again and suggest them to other builders or anyone renovating a space. Come by our shop to see their work in person! (Tried to post photos with this review but can’t figure how to do it...)
Reese C Evans
Reese C Evans
great cabinet work and a wonderful facility
Linda Derasmo
Linda Derasmo
Everyone is fantastic. So knowledgeable. We had a wonderful time picking all the cabinets and finishings for our new home.