vaal-blog home buyers

Buying your first home is an exciting milestone. However, the process can also be daunting for first-time home buyers. Here are 5 key tips to help you navigate the journey of purchasing your first house.

1. Determine Your Budget and Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

The first crucial step is figuring out your budget as a home buyer. Consider factors like:

  • Down payment amount
  • Mortgage payments
  • Property taxes
  • Home Insurance
  • HOA fees (if applicable)
  • Maintenance and repair costs

Being pre-approved for a mortgage shows sellers you are a serious home buyer. It also gives you a price range to focus your home search.

Tips for getting pre-approved:

  • Check your credit score and report for errors
  • Pay down existing debts to improve your credit score
  • Gather your financial documents
  • Shop and compare mortgage rates from multiple lenders
  • Lock in a rate once you find a competitive offer

Knowing exactly what you can afford helps set realistic expectations when viewing potential homes as a first-time home buyer.

2. Make a Home Buyers Wish List

Define your must-haves versus nice-to-haves for your first home. Important factors to consider as a home buyer include:

  • Location: Distance to work, amenities, schools, transit, etc.
  • Home type: Condo, townhouse, detached house, etc.
  • Size: Square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Age: New build or resale home
  • Amenities: Garage, yard space, storage, fireplace, etc.
  • Future plans: Starting a family, pets, hosting guests, etc.

Rank these factors by priority to stay focused during your search as a first-time home buyer. Being flexible helps open more options if you can’t find a home matching your exact wish list.

3. Find a Knowledgeable Real Estate Agent

Having an experienced real estate agent represents your interests in the home buying process as a first-time home buyer. Benefits of working with an agent include:

  • Local expertise: Agents know their markets inside out. This helps target the right areas and homes for you.
  • Network of connections: Agents have relationships with other agents listing homes. This provides perks like early access to new listings for a first-time home buyer.
  • Guidance: Agents assist with negotiations, contracts, inspections, closing and more. First-time buyers have many questions an agent can answer.
  • Paperwork: Agents handle all the complex documentation required in real estate transactions.

Ask friends or family for referrals to trusted real estate agents in your desired location. Interview several agents before selecting one you connect well with as a first-time home buyer.

4. View Homes Strategically

Seeing homes in person is vital to understanding layouts and finishes. But you also want to use your time wisely as a first-time home buyer. Some tips include:

  • Focus on visiting your top 5-10 contenders rather than every single listing.
  • Drive by the outside first. This weeds out any with deal-breaking locations or exteriors.
  • View homes during daylight hours if possible. This shows off spaces better.
  • Take photos to compare homes later as a first-time home buyer.
  • Envision how you would live in and furnish each property.
  • Pay attention to potentially costly repairs like HVAC systems, roofing, etc.
  • Ask your agent detailed questions about each home and neighbourhood.

Being strategic helps you zero in on your favourite options faster as a first-time home buyer.

5. Make a Strong Offer

In competitive markets, you need an attractive offer to beat out other buyers as a first-time home buyer. Ways to make your offer appealing include:

  • Offer at or slightly above the asking price. Going too low risks rejection.
  • Keep contingencies minimal. Limit subjects like financing, appraisal and inspection contingencies. Be prepared to cover any gaps between the appraised value and the offer price.
  • Opt for a shorter close. Propose closing in 30 days or less.
  • Waive the financing contingency if possible. This shows you are a serious buyer.
  • Provide a large earnest money deposit, ideally 1-3% of the purchase price.
  • Make a cash offer if able. Sellers favour cash offers as they represent less risk of falling through.
  • Be flexible on move-in timing to accommodate the sellers’ needs.

In a bidding war, you may need to get creative and take risks to win as a first-time home buyer. But never offer more than you can reasonably afford.

Key Takeaways

  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage in your budget
  • Make a detailed home buying wish list
  • Find an experienced real estate agent you trust
  • Be strategic when viewing potential homes
  • Make a strong, competitive offer once you find the right home

Following these tips will help first-time buyers navigate the exciting but complex process of purchasing a home. Do your homework upfront so you can make informed decisions each step of the way as a new home buyer. Before you know it, you’ll be moving into your new home sweet home!

Frequently Asked Questions About Buying a First Home

Purchasing your first home is a big milestone full of new questions. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions by first-time home buyers:

How big of a down payment do I need as a first-time home buyer?

  • Traditional mortgages usually require 5-20% down payment. Options like FHA loans allow down payments as low as 3.5%.

What closing costs should I expect to pay as a new home buyer?

  • Closing costs range from 2-5% of the total purchase price. This covers origination fees, appraisal fees, title insurance, recording fees and more.

How do I know how much home I can afford as a first-time buyer?

  • Aim to spend no more than 28% of your gross monthly income on your mortgage payment (principal + interest). Total monthly debt, including the mortgage, should not exceed 36% of your income.

Should I use a real estate agent or buy directly from the seller as a new home buyer?

  • It is best for first-time buyers to use a real estate agent. Agents help navigate complex paperwork, negotiations, rules and timelines.

How can I be competitive in a sellers’ market as a first-time buyer?

  • Make a strong offer at or above the asking price, keep contingencies minimal, provide a large deposit and be flexible on timing. Writing a personal letter to the seller can also help humanize your offer.


The first step of the home buying journey is the most important – believing you can do it! While the process has challenges, being prepared tackles the obstacles along the way. Determining your budget and loan pre-approval lays the groundwork. Outline your ideal home features before starting your search. Finding the right real estate agent provides expert guidance. View homes strategically, then make a competitive offer once you find the one. The sense of accomplishment and pride when you receive those keys for the first time makes it all worthwhile as a first-time home buyer. Enjoy embarking on the adventure of purchasing your first home!

For personalized help finding and financing your first home, contact VAAL Ghana today. Our team of real estate advisors is here to guide first-time buyers every step of the way. Be sure to also ask about Harmonia Residence, VAAL Ghana’s newest development of 1, 2, 3, 5 bedroom and Penthouse apartments in Airport West, Accra. This exclusive gated community features resort-style amenities and a prime location. Get started on buying your dream home by reaching out to VAAL Ghana today!