Real talk: Tips for first-time millennial homebuyers

Real talk: Tips for first-time millennial homebuyers
Will Wiard (Courtesy photo)

By Will Wiard

Over time more Millennials are deciding to stop wasting their hard earned cash on renting, and are putting their money toward the purchase of a home.

If you’re looking to buy your first home, don’t just jump on Zillow and swipe through random homes – here are five tips that will help your home buying process go smoothly.

Educate yourself

There are many steps in buying a home and everyone’s experience can be different. One of the best things you can do is familiarize yourself with the buying process. When you meet a realtor for the first time, remember to bring a list of questions and ask them about their qualifications. My tip is to look for an agent who takes the time to listen to your wants and needs.

Consult an expert

Most people know a realtor or know someone who knows a realtor. However, when you are buying a home I recommend working with a neighborhood expert who specializes in the market you have an interest in. A neighborhood expert should have the inside scoop on the area you are interested in and will be able to provide key market knowledge you would not be able to find by “Googling it.”

Get preapproved

Technology has made it easier to get preapproved for a loan, which is a vital step prior to submitting an offer for a home. Being preapproved means that your credit has been reviewed and your purchasing power confirmed by your lender. This sends a message that you are a serious buyer to a seller. My tip is to get preapproved by a local lender. One of the biggest benefits to working with a local lender is access and communication. It is much easier to communicate with a lender who is in the same time zone and country as you when buying home.

Live below your means

Buying a home requires a lot of money, and when you buy a home there are many expenses throughout the process. For most purchases you will have to pay a down payment, closing costs, inspection fees and moving costs, just to name a few. This is not the time to purchase a new car or open a new credit card account – those will come later. Before you decide to make any big purchases that might lower your credit score, consult your lender and your realtor.


When you find the house of your dreams and submit an offer there are many items you can negotiate other than the price. Most firsttime home buyers will likely focus on the price, but there are other things you can negotiate. One example is closing cost assistance or a seller subsidy.

Depending on the competition in the market, this is always something you should consider when negotiating the purchase of your home. You can negotiate for a home warranty – my tip is to always ask the seller to cover the cost of a policy. The price for a home warranty policy usually starts around $499 and can cover a variety of items inside your new home. It’s important to consult with your realtor to pick the best option for you as the price may vary depending on the coverage.

Remember, this is going to be your home and you should not feel pressured to sign on the dotted line if you are not ready. It is our job as realtors to represent your best interests, negotiate to the terms you want, and close the deal. It is not to sell you a house.

Will Wiard is managing broker for Weichert in Old Town Alexandria and, as such, leads one of the most prestigious offices within the Weichert organization. In addition, Will sits on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Realtors Association and is a part of various committees including the Young Professionals Network, both at the state and local level, as well as the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors Cares and Grievance Committee. He was ranked as one of the 30 under 30 outstanding real estate professionals in the country by the National Association of Realtors Magazine in 2017.