Tips for the First Time Home Buyer

It’s a little crazy to think that we’ve been in the new house now for two years. Seriously, where does the time go?

This was not only a huge step for us because we were going to be living together for the first time but it was our first big purchase! I mean, it doesn’t get more adult than buying a house. Or more expensive. Or more stressful.

We learned a lot throughout the process and while I’m nowhere near ready to move and start the whole process over, I feel a lot more confident going into our next purchase when the time comes. A huge part of that confidence comes from the relator we used. Sean, who is also a friend of ours, literally held our hand the entire way and taught us so much about purchasing our first home.

Since I’m no pro, I thought it might be fun to get a few of Sean’s tips and advice for all of the first time home buyers out there. Check out a quick Q&A with Sean Cronin, Realtor Specialist, below. And you better believe I’m adding a few of these to my list for next time.

Q: What is your biggest piece of advice for a first time home buyer? 

A: Find an Agent! Not just any agent. Make sure your agent is experienced in the area you’re looking to move and in the budget that you’re looking to purchase. Keep in mind that experience isn’t just about the length of time that an agent has had their license, but more about the number of transactions they’ve closed recently. An agent that has closed 20 homes a year for the past three years is going to be considered to have the same experience as an agent that has been licensed for 20 years and has closed on 60 deals. Due to the constantly changing landscape of the “real estate market”, an agent with the recent transactions is going to be the one with the best knowledge of the most current market trends and regulations.

Now all the experience in the world is great but in all reality, you can find multiple agents with the same amount of experience in what you are looking for. At that point, you need to choose someone that you are super comfortable with. “Vibes” are everything. Buying your first home is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make, so you need to be 1000% sure you trust your agent to make the right decisions and give the right advice to you when the tough situations present themselves.

Not to sound too cliche’, one way to look at it is to think of your agent as the quarterback and you’re about to play the Superbowl. You want an agent who is going to take control of the situation and make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do. You want an agent who has enough experience to see situations and issues before they become negatives and be able to make the right play down the stretch to seal the deal.

Q: Do you think it’s better to go with a new home that has all of the features you want OR go with an older home and budget for renovations?

A: Like most things, this is such a subjective question, but in my opinion, with everything else being equal, I will go with new construction every time. There’s so much peace of mind that comes with knowing everything in your home is brand new. New HVAC, new roof, new appliances, new flooring, new siding, new windows, NEW EVERYTHING!!! Often times with new construction you will be given things that you just can’t get with a pre-owned home, such as; closing cost and the ability to pick your finishes. It’s common for builders to offer some type of incentive for closing cost or design center allowances.

On pre-owned homes, closing costs will always have to be negotiated with the deal and the finishes inside the home are going to be whatever the Seller has already installed. As far as renovating a home to have the finishes you want depends on your desired level of involvement, and budget. One thing to keep in mind is that 99.99% of all renovation projects take longer to complete than originally planned and they almost always end up costing more than the planned on budget.

Q: When it comes to the home inspection, do you have any tips? (things to look out for, the best way to find someone, etc.)

A: Home Inspections, one of my favorite things to talk about, I say this with a heavy amount of sarcasm. I’ll start by saying your agent should be the one who recommends the home inspector for a couple of different reasons. The inspector that your agent brings to the table should be one that has worked closely with them in the past and will know the things your agent is looking for on the inspection and how they want it to be written. Let me explain, there is no such thing as a mechanically perfect home. Even in new construction homes your inspector will be able to find items to list in an inspection report.

Keep in mind that you’re not hiring an inspector to come walk the house and tell you that it’s a great home and a sound purchase. You’re hiring this inspector to comb the house looking for anything they can find to put on an inspection report that your agent will then use to try to get you more money either off the sales price of the home or in closing cost.  Once the inspector provides you with the report you’re going to read something that is going to sound like the house is falling apart. It will make you feel like the home you loved so much that you’ve made an offer, gone binding, and have now spent several hundred dollars to have someone tell you everything is falling apart. Do not let this scare you away from the home. Often times the report is written to sound much worse than it really is. This is done for a couple different reasons, one is the inspector will claim they’re using this language to “CYA”, in case in the future an item they noted turns into a bigger issue.

As I mentioned earlier your agent will use this report by submitting it to the Seller’s agent and say that these items found on the report are a cause for concern. Everything needs to either be addressed by the Seller, or they need to give the Buyer some compensation so that they can take care of it in the future by the handyman or contractor of their choosing.

Q: When is the “right” time to buy a home? When or how should a person know if it’s the right time for them – is there a “right” time? 

A: There’s a saying in the real estate industry, the best time to buy a house is always five years ago. It sounds funny but historically speaking you will see homes that people didn’t buy five years earlier because it didn’t seem like a good deal, today would have been a great deal. As far as if it’s the “right” time is going to be dependent on each person and their given situation. Something I have learned over the years is if you are trying to “time the market” then you will never buy! No one knows what the market is going to do no matter what kind of “expert” they say they are. An easy way to look at this is, if you are ready, willing, and able to buy and plan on being in an area at least two years then buy!

Q: Any other tips or advice to share?

A: I feel I could give advice on these questions and other topics that have been mentioned through the answers for hours. I wish that I could sit down with everyone individually and answer their specific questions but given the reach of this blog that would be impossible. I would like to offer to anyone reading this that they can reach out to me directly by email or phone call and I can answer certain questions or help them sort out their options. If you’re in the metro Atlanta area I am happy to sit down with anyone and really dive into all the details and point you in the right direction.

If you’re in Atlanta or looking for a Realtor, you can contact Sean here.


  1. 7.30.20
    Jewels said:

    This blog talked about things I always hear about in a totally different light. Thank you!

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