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How to avoid home buying mistakes on your first home (Ask the Realtor)

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Intro: Given the recent "Best of" lists that the City of Trees has found itself on (including Forbes' list for "Best Places to Raise a Family", it's understandable if you're thinking about purchasing real estate in Boise. However, if this is the first time you're buying a home, you may not want to start highlighting your favorite ads for Boise homes for sale just yet. As Boise-based Realtor and associate broker, Jace Stolfo points out in this week's "Ask the Realtor" column, there are a few steps you might want to take before you begin house hunting. By doing them, you'll avoid a lot of the common mistakes that first-time buyers make.

More Questions for "Ask the Realtor"

Ask the Realtor:

What are the most common mistakes a first-time home buyer makes and what can I do to avoid them?

Jace Says:

When I talk to real estate buyers in Boise and the surrounding area, I think the biggest mistake that first-time home buyers make is not preparing before they start searching for a new home.

Here's what I mean. Naturally, when you start thinking about buying a home you think, "Well, let's start by getting out there and looking at properties." However, there are probably a few key steps you want to tackle before you go start looking at properties in the Boise real estate market.

Start With Home Loan Pre-Approval

Number one is you want to get pre-approved for a loan, so that means you're going to sit down with a lender, and you're going to let them know what you're comfortable with as far as a monthly payment. In turn, they're going to review your financial situation to determine how much of a loan you can get, what down payment requirements you might have, etc.

If you get pre-approved for a loan up front, you know for sure what hurdles you may have in order to obtain that loan -- like saving for a downpayment -- and you're going to know exactly how much you qualify for. Knowing that information is going to help zero in the search to know that you're looking at the right price range of homes in Boise, Meridian and the surrounding areas.

Why You Want to Get a Pre-Approval for a Home Loan

The other advantage of getting pre-approved up front is that when you find the right house and you want to make an offer, your offer is going to carry a lot more weight to that seller if you can show them a pre-approval letter. That way, they know you are qualified. You're a serious buyer and you're probably going to have more leverage to negotiate favorable terms of the offer.

Working With a Boise Real Estate Professional

The other thing a buyer wants to do up front is really to find a great real estate agent to work with. There's a lot of agents out there, and there's good ones and there's bad ones and everything in between. And a lot of times, the best way to find a good real estate agent is to ask trusted friends or family. Who have they worked with and did they have a positive experience with them and would they recommend them? Getting those recommendations from family or friends can be a great place to start.

By getting connected with a trusted Realtor up front, he/ she is really going to be able to help you through your housing options. A local Realtor here in the Treasure Valley will know the Boise real estate market, the area, and the various subdivisions you may want to look at. Your Realtor will also know the right questions to ask. These questions will help you identify your needs and wants with the right solutions for you.

In short, getting connected with a real estate agent in your area will help streamline the process and save you tons of time in the long run.

**Author's note: The information in this column is for informational purposes only. As always, you'll want to check with your own local real estate agent.

Jace Stolfo is a licensed Realtor in Boise, Idaho. His company, Boise Real Estate Plus, LLC with Keller Williams Boise connects sellers and buyers in the Boise real estate market. He has been named a Platinum Level Top Producer for the Treasure Valley from the year 2009 to the year 2013. If you need more information about the Idaho real estate market, drop Jace a line.

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