4 lessons for first-time home buyers

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From choosing between co-ops and condos, to the ins and outs of financing, to shopping for the actual apartment and what to expect at the closing, there is simply a ton to learn about buying a home. First-time buyer Dorothy Robinson, who rented a Brooklyn one-bedroom with her husband and son, recently moved to the suburbs, and shared her experience of buying with Betterment. Below, we pull out a few of her best nuggets of wisdom for New York buyers, via Business Insider

•Make the banks compete for your business: Don’t just call your bank and be done with it. There are better deals to be had if you negotiate—and that often means pitting one mortgage banker against another. Go for it! You’re not looking to make friends, just get the best rate.

• Sign the mortgage contract ASAP: Mortgage rates do change (or “fluctuate” in mortgage parlance). Once you’ve negotiated down to a rate that’s acceptable to you, sign the contract and seal the deal as quickly as possible lest the rate change and you have to begin all over.

• Whittle your wish list to the essentials: Skylights, trendy floor boards, extra bathrooms are all nice—if you have a big budget. If you don’t, figure out your absolute must-haves—a certain neighborhood, a minimum number of bedrooms and baths, a good school zone, an acceptable commute, etc.—and go from there.

• Don’t assume you can fix that fixer-upper: ​To simplify your life, buy something you can tweak yourself—or, better yet, live with as is.Contractors aren’t just hard to get a hold of. Once they do call back they often charge a fortune for what seems like a small job.


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