When searching for my first home in Seattle in the Fall of 2019, I had no idea what I wanted in my first home. I didn’t know which neighborhoods were worth investing in, nor did I know what amenities I really needed or could pass on.
This was the biggest purchase of my life. How am I supposed to know if this property was the right one for me?
But after viewing many different properties in various neighborhoods and creating a list of “Must Haves”, once I stumbled across my current condo, I knew it was the one.
If you’re looking to purchase your first home and don’t know where to start or how to weigh in the pros and cons of the listing, keep reading. Here are super helpful tips that will help you find your perfect first home!
Looking for things to do in Seattle? Read my suggestions For my friends traveling to Seattle.
Tip #1: Figure out the purpose of your home.
An important tip that I tell everyone who is searching for their first home is to figure out the purpose of this home. Reflecting and understanding the purpose of your purchase allows you to view these properties in a specific light.
Ask yourself some of these questions to get started:
- Will it be a rental property or a forever home?
- Are you trying to flip it and sell it later on?
- Is knowing the school district score important for me now or in the future?
- If you want to rent it out in the future, are you gearing your lease towards pet owners? Urban young adults near downtown? Students near the university? Families?
When looking for my condo, I knew I wanted to have:
- Low HOA
- In-unit washer/dryer
- Indoor parking spot
- Close to bars and restaurants
- Some type of outdoor area, such as a balcony or patio
- Up-and-coming location where it’d be easy to rent out in the future
If the property didn’t have these items… on to the next one!
Items that were nice to have, but I didn’t necessarily cared for were:
- Roof top
- Pet friendly
- Kitchen island
- At least 500 sqft.
- Large closet or storage area
- South-side facing windows
Some of these items are important to others, but it wasn’t heavy on my list. Understand the amenities that you don’t mind passing on.
Tip #2: Find a realtor you trust and are comfortable with.
Being able to trust and be comfortable with my realtor (and loan officer!) allowed me to ask as many questions as I wanted, and have full confidence that they understood my style and the characteristics I was looking for in a condo.
At one point, I had two realtors helping me find my first home. For one of them, they kept showing me properties that I wasn’t really into, but only because it was in my price range; it was a constant waste of my time! For the other realtor, it was enjoyable working with them, and they were constantly asking questions to understand what I was looking for.
And obviously, find a realtor who knows a lot about the market and the surrounding neighborhoods too!
Tip #3: Visit MANY listings.
I mean tons and tons of properties. Doing so, you’ll know what’s available in the market for specific neighborhoods and amenities available for a general property in that city.
Sellers always dress up their place for their online listing to make it very appealing for the buyer, so really take the time to schedule viewings with your realtor.
When I first walked into my current condo, I knew it was the one. Since I was looking for about 3 months at that point, I knew that in comparison to the other condos I’ve seen, this was the best possible choice with all my “Must Haves”.
Tip #4: Start looking early before spring.
Springtime is the season when many people are looking to purchase property, so starting early will allow you to view many listings. By viewing many listings, you will already know what you’re looking for, ultimately acting quickly when the perfect home comes up.
Tip #5: Read the fine print.
Sometimes the listing price is unbelievable, and you’re wondering why is it so low? There is usually a catch.
In my experience, the catch is usually:
- High HOA!
- No parking available, and you have to park on the street
- Downstairs, very loud, and no privacy
This is why creating a “Must Have” list is important.
If you’re planning to use this purchase as a future rental property, find out if the complex allows you to rent anytime or if there is a capped amount. Sometimes there is a payment to be on the waitlist.
Tip #6: Do your research on the neighborhood.
When searching for your first home, ask around the neighborhood for different point of views. Gathering a bunch of POVs and ideas will help you fully understand the neighborhood that potentially may be your new home.
Some questions you may want to find out:
- Is the area up-and-coming and being gentrified?
- Is it safe? What is the walk score?
- Is the location worth investing in?
- Would I have a long work commute, and is it difficult to get to the freeway?
- Where is my closest grocery store? Gas station? Pet store?
I even ended up asking my sugarist for her thoughts on my current neighborhood. I asked her if this neighborhood was a cool place to live? What’s the age demographic? Best places to eat?
What I love about my current condo is that I’m so close to many grocery stores, bars, and restaurants. Plus there are many scenic trails and parks to go on walks or on runs, so ultimately, it fits my overall lifestyle.
Tip #7: When visiting, imagine all your things in place.
An important tip when searching for your first home is to imagine all of your current things in place.
For example, where will your TV go? This was important for me, because for one of the condos I was looking at, the floorplan was at a weird angle for my flat screen to fit.
Is the floorplan and space realistic for me and my lifestyle? Can I fit all my clothes in this closet? Is this enough room for myself and my dog or for me and my family?
For myself, I love the outdoors and have so much gear in hand… whether it’s my snowboard and gear, backpacking / camping gear, I had to understand other ways I can store my items, and if it was worth moving forward with a specific property.
Searching for my first home and picturing where I’d be living for the upcoming years was a fun experience, and I loved every minute of it! I hope you’re able to use these tips to help ease your search in finding your perfect first home!