First-Time Home Buyer? What You Need to Know

Buying a new home, especially in this market, can be overwhelming to say the least. But, with the help of my tried and true tips below, the process can go more smoothly, and you can feel more confident about this significant purchase.

1.  Speak to several mortgage lenders

Each offers different rates, products and services. One size does not fit all. Get prequalified and know what your budget is.

2.  Pick the right Real Estate Professional

Buying your first home is home a big investment. Ideally work with a realtor who lives in the area or knows the area very well. A Real Estate Agent should be someone you trust, who understands your needs, as well as works and advocates for you.

Ask about their experience and for references so you know they have a good track record and reputation. Ask friends who have moved to the area who helped them and if they would recommend them. I’m personally in touch with all my past buyer clients and I am confident that they would all recommend me to their friends and family because of the professional representation they received.

3.  Pick a town/reasonable area and focus there

4.  There is no perfect house (unless you have an unlimited budget)

But there is usually some compromise like location, condition, size, landscape.

5.  Keep an open mind

Often, I work with buyers who have a very fixed idea about what they want but sometimes, especially when inventory is low, if I show them other alternative options, they realize one works for them too. I have had several clients who have bought the “wild card” listing that I added to the homes we saw. Because I knew the inventory so well, I was able to suggest them based on how they had reacted to other homes I had shown them.

6.  If you can find out, ask the sellers what they loved about living there

You might learn additional great aspects about the home that aren’t easily seen with one visit or via the MLS listing and photos. For instance, perhaps you are buying in the summer, and you didn’t realize that the slope across the street is the #1 sledding slope in town and you (or your kiddos!) would love that. Or that, in winter, when the leaves fall you get to glimpse the ocean.

7.  Ask about running expenses

Mortgage calculators only figure PITI payment (principle, interest, taxes, insurance). In addition to that there will be utilities, lawn care, trash removal, snow removal, landscaping, possibly a car to run, etc. It all adds up. You want to own your home and enjoy living there — you don’t want the home to own you.

8.  Consider purchasing a Home Warranty

As first-time home buyers there is a lot to think about in terms of how a home works. If your home isn’t new and you aren’t able to do a full home inspection or if items are older, it is sometimes a good investment to have a home warranty in case costly systems or appliances have issues or fail.

9.  If you are going to commute to work …

Try it at the time you would do it, or see where the amenities that you will use are in relation to your home and if that is convenient for what you need.

10.  If possible, visit the home multiple times at different times of day

Or drive by during a busy time and see what the traffic is like.

11.  I have been a Fairfield County Real Estate Agent for more than a decade …

But before, when I sold Real Estate in New York City, I would often show an apartment in the morning and afternoon to see how the light changes, as that can make a big difference in a tall apartment building. You may want to see how the lighting changes the feel of a home at different times of the day, too.

12.  This is a big one …

Don’t take a loan to buy a car or furniture before the loan for your house closes! This can skew your debt-to-income ratio and be problematic at closing.

13.  Remember: your first home doesn’t have to be your forever home

People change, life gets busy or less busy, fortunes change, and people’s needs in their homes change. It is hard to envision past 7-10 years at a time. So, find a home that you love that will see you through that time and don’t forget to call me when you are ready for your second home!

I hope these insider tips to being a first-time home buyer helped or will help you on your home-buying journey. Be sure to bookmark this page to reference in the future — and to view our current listings visit

Jessica Brookbanks is a Sales Associate with The Bross Chingas Bross Team at Coldwell Banker. Bross Chingas Bross has been #1 in the sale of Weston and Westport homes, 2013-2022 YTD. The team ranked #33 in the U.S., out of all Real Estate Agent Teams at all brokerage firms per the Wall Street Journal, and #7 within Coldwell Banker globally, where they are recognized as an International Society of Excellence Team.

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