March 3rd, 2024 at 11:00 am


Updated March 3, 2024

Thinking of buying your first home? If you’ve never purchased property before, or have only done so once, you may be wondering:

In this guide, you’ll find experts’ answers to all these questions, learn about the benefits of owning a home,  and more. Read on to discover the most essential real estate tips for buyers who want to find their dream home at the right price.

Looking to make a move in Southern California? Utilize our California real estate agents for help handling all the logistics to make the move that much easier!

#1 Research Before You Look

Before diving into the home-buying process, thorough research is crucial for a successful and informed experience. As a first time homebuyer, understanding the real estate market, current mortgage rates, and a mortgage option is essential. 

Additionally, learn more about the specifics of closing costs, monthly payments, and potential assistance programs available for first time buyers. Equipping yourself with this knowledge early on will empower you to make well-informed decisions throughout the home buying process. A real estate agent specializing in first time homebuyers can guide you through this research phase, ensuring you have a comprehensive understanding of the key factors influencing your purchase.

#2 Attend Open Houses

Attending open houses allows you to explore various properties, get a feel for different neighborhoods, and understand your preferences. Utilize this opportunity to inspect homes for potential issues, assess their resale value, and determine if they align with your vision of a dream home.

During open houses, interact with the real estate agents present to get their insights on the local market, property values, and details about the home. This firsthand experience will enhance your understanding of the home buying process and help you make informed decisions when you find the right property.

#3 Look beyond curb appeal

According to U.S. News & World Report, curb appeal isn’t everything. When evaluating a home for the first time, their home buying advice is that you should ignore:

We’ve told you what to ignore on your home tour, but what should you be paying attention to? Curbed’s home buying advice is to ruthlessly look for:

Not all of these problems will be easy to spot. To help you take note of potential issues, bring a seasoned real estate agent with you on any home tours you undertake. Remember, this isn’t a rental property. The costs of buying a home are substantial when you incorporate a mortgage payment, market conditions, and more. Therefore, your first home can and should be something you love.

Wondering how to find a good real estate agent to help you through this process? A Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties agent will be able to help you look past surface charm to identify any potentially expensive structural flaws. 

#4 Get professional guidance

While you may be wary of real estate agents, be advised that not working with a buyer’s agent can make you financially vulnerable. 

Seller’s agents are often more focused on the seller’s best interests than on yours. To ensure that you don’t get taken advantage of, find your own agent who can represent your interests. 

While the commissions earned by the seller’s agent and your agent are both paid for by the seller, buyer’s agents are far more motivated to help you as a homeowner than seller’s agents and can give you advice on buying a house that’s not influenced by the seller’s concerns.

When searching for an agent to represent your purchase, fine someone who also has a deep understanding of the real estate market in your area. This will come in handy when you’re trying to determine whether your dream home’s purchase price is fair.

Here are our top criteria for selecting a buyer’s broker:

#5 Be aware of hidden costs

There’s a big difference between renting and owning a home, and it’s not just that homeowners are building equity.

While renters only have to worry about making their monthly rent payments, homeowners have costs that extend beyond their mortgage, such as:

In addition, buying your dream home takes more than a down payment. You’ll also have to pay for closing costs, legal fees, and any needed renovations. 

To make sure you’re not caught off-guard by hidden costs, ask your real estate agent about possible property tax increases, typical homeowners’ insurance premiums for the area, landscaping costs, and other pertinent information before you make your home purchase. 

California REALTORS® specialize in this kind of home buying advice and will be able to give you an informed, professional opinion. 

#6 Use inspections to protect your wallet

Even when you’ve fallen in love with a property and are 100% sure it’s your dream home, you should always have a home inspection done before deciding to buy it.

A thorough home inspection will reveal any concerning issues with the home, such as:

Some of these pitfalls might be ones you’re willing to take on, while others may be deal-breakers. For instance, you might not want to purchase a home that’s infested with termites, but may be willing to buy a house with electrical issues.

If you’re still interested in a home after its inspection, use the damage that’s been revealed as a bargaining chip. This can hopefully lead to a lower purchase price for your dream home! Your California Properties agent can negotiate to lower the price of the home, or you can request that the sellers address and resolve any known issues before you move in.

#7 Consider Resale Value

While buying your first home is an exciting endeavor, it’s essential to consider the resale value of the property. Real estate is a significant investment, and understanding how property values may appreciate over time is crucial. Work closely with a knowledgeable real estate agent, particularly one specializing in first time buyers, to assess the resale potential of homes you’re interested in.

Consider factors such as the neighborhood’s desirability, proximity to amenities, and any planned developments or infrastructure improvements. This forward-thinking approach ensures that your first home is not only a comfortable living space but also a sound financial investment.

#8 Value great neighborhoods over great houses

Have you ever heard the real estate saying that it’s better to buy a distressed home in a good neighborhood than a gorgeous home in a less-than-desirable neighborhood?

Like a lot of cliché home buying advice, it happens to be true. Your property will be worth more if it’s located in a neighborhood that buyers are excited by. But there are other reasons to get to know your potential new home’s neighborhood well if you’re not familiar with it already. 

Once you’re serious about buying a home, U.S. News & World Report recommends taking the following steps:

As a final step, ask your real estate agent for their opinion. Our California Properties agents can give you access to all the neighborhood information you need, including the area’s history, median home values, whether property values are likely to rise or fall, and other real estate tips for buyers. 

#9 Don’t stretch your budget

As discussed above, a first time home buyer can be surprised by all the hidden costs of owning a home. That’s why it’s best not to burden yourself with a mortgage that you struggle to pay off every month.

Instead, our best advice on buying a house is to look for homes that won’t break your budget. You may have been approved for a sizable loan, but you don’t have to take out the full amount, although that’s probably not the home buying advice you’ll hear from your bank.

At the end of the day, it’s wisest to try to live beneath your means. That way, you’ll have money left over every month for other things, such as:

Here’s how to make your real estate dollars go further:

If you tell your California Properties agent that you’re in the market for an outdated but sound home, they should be able to steer you toward properties that fit the bill.

#10 Leave bidding to the experts

One of the most urgent real estate tips for buyers is this one: don’t overestimate your own bargaining abilities, especially if you are not in the real estate business to begin with. While it may be tempting to do your own home buying negotiation, you will be better served by a professional. 

A first time home buyer often makes the rookie mistake of insulting sellers with ridiculously small offers, thinking of it as a starting point for haggling a lower selling price. In most cases, this technique blows up in their faces.

It’s better to allow your California real estate agent to lead the offer negotiation. They’ve been through it many times, and they’re also knowledgeable about the unspoken rules regarding this process. 

At California Properties, we understand the real estate climate. Bidding wars don’t faze us and we know how to help you win, even in the most competitive housing markets. Rely on us for premium real estate tips for buyers.

Make the right choice with California Properties

If you’ve never purchased property before, you may be daunted by the challenges of shopping for a home. But you can navigate them much more easily when you opt for expert help. 

California Properties’ agents want to help you find the home of your dreams, at a price your budget will appreciate. Let them put their skills to work for you: contact a local office today. If you’re buying a second home and also selling your first one, check out our real estate tips for sellers too! 

Connect with a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties agent now.


  1. Curbed. 6 Common Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Make.
  2. Curbed. 10 things to Watch Out for the First Time You View a Home.
  3. U.S. News & World Report. 5 Things to Ignore on a Home Tour.
  4. U.S. News & World Report. How to Vet a Neighborhood.

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