My Tale of First-Time Homebuyer Panic

In my head, I’m ready to buy a home. I’ve done some research, I’ve even blogged about it. I’ve made my list of dealbreakers. I’ve attended open houses. But now I’ve reached the stage where it’s time to get real and I find myself filled with fear. The whole process is just so intimidating. It’s not about home prices falling, oddly enough. I’ve made my peace with that. It’s everything else that has me in a dither.

We Qualify for a Big Loan, But Is It Enough?
We qualified for a big mortgage, but in Los Angeles, it’s a little mortgage. I worry that we won’t be able to find something we really like in good condition, with decent closets, and in a good area in our price range.

How to Choose a Realtor?
I have lots of cards for real estate agents, and know the questions to ask, but the process of interviewing them is intimidating to me.

How to Choose a Loan?
We have one loan estimate, but we need to get a few others. How many is enough? Are brokers or banks better? Some say a bank is a better deal, others say a broker is more attentive. Either way, am I tough enough to negotiate all the junk fees I’ve read about?

Should We Pay the Lock Fee?
What if it takes more than two months to find a house? Then we’ll have to pay another lock fee. I worry about throwing away money a few hundred bucks at a time.

How Long Will This Take?
We’ve spent a few Sundays looking at open houses, but we looked quickly and there were only a few that we really liked, and even they had issues. I’m worried about how long we’ll have to look. I know a couple and another friend who have both been looking for five years. I have other friends who found something in two months.

How Much to Offer?
Should I offer 10% below asking? 20% below asking? I know the real estate agent can help me figure that out, but I worry about it all the same. I’m a worrier by nature. And an optimist. It makes for an uncomfortable brain sometimes.

What about Closing Costs?
We’ve saved up about $7,000 in the last three months, but we owe $9,000 in taxes, so come April 15, that money will be gone and we have to start over saving for closing costs. Should we wait a few months to save up closing costs or just bite the bullet and include them in the mortgage? Can I survive another six months in my apartment if we decide to wait? I got up at midnight the other night to bang on my neighbor’s door to stop the noise. I’m not sure I can take much more.

Are We Really Certain About Our Choices?
We’ve settled on a few areas, but even that I’m not 100% certain on. Everything is so spread out in Los Angeles, it’s hard to find one central place that works for all our needs. The same with some of our dealbreakers. Should I really be concerned about those things?

I’m confident that once I start looking for real, I’ll get over some of my fears, but I’m having a hard time taking the next step. At some point I just have to take the leap. So, all you homeowners out there – how did you get over first-time homebuyer jitters? Any advice?

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