Buying a home is one of the most important purchases you’ll make in your lifetime.
And with Hawaii’s high property values and limited supply, it isn't always easy. From deciding whether to buy a home or condominium to deciding how much space and property maintenance you’re willing to take on, there’s lots of choices that can drastically affect you and your family's lifestyle.
That’s why it’s critical to have a knowledgeable real estate professional you can trust. We sat down with Island Sotheby’s International Realty co-owner and agent Ryan MacLaughlin R(B) to learn what first-time home buyers should ask themselves before taking the jump into homeownership.
1. What kind of property would fit you best?
Are you looking for a single-family home or a condominium? What type of home do you picture yourself or your family living in? MacLaughlin says these are just a couple things potential homeowners should think about before making a purchase. And if a buyer has a family, think about what the entire family’s needs will be, he said.
2. What are the must-haves?
For example, if you have a family of four, having two bathrooms might be a complete necessity. Think about you and your family’s lifestyle and how a home will affect that.
“Do you need outside space, or are you a minimalist, and want to keep the maintenance down by not having a yard?” asked MacLaughlin.
3. Are you qualified?
Before taking the time to look at properties with an agent, get prequalified for a loan with a lender or bank.
“You don’t want to get your hopes up and find the perfect property, only to find out that you can’t afford it,” said MacLaughlin.
4. How much can you really afford?
MacLaughlin explained that just because a buyer may be qualified by a bank, assuming a large mortgage may not be the best option. Instead, it may be worth considering keeping the money in the bank for a rainy day, general savings or a remodel later on.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen families stressing out over a new home purchase,” said MacLaughlin. “Yes, they qualified, and yes, they are able to pay the mortgage, but they are still strapped just making ends meet otherwise.”
5. Who will best represent you?
Once you’re prequalified, it’s time to start interviewing agents to find out who is best equipped to help you find your first home. It’s important to find someone who understands what your limits and needs are in finding the perfect property for your family.
“The agent needs to match your personality, but also needs to be extremely knowledgeable with the local real estate market, and the first-time homebuyer process,” MacLaughlin explained.