Want a little property virgin, first time home buyer advice? I've bought several homes throughout my life. The first time was a small little starter home and I sure wish someone had given me a little advice. I ended up grossly overpaying (I bought it from someone I knew and thought they were giving me a great deal, I didn't do my homework and paid more than I should have).
Buying a home, whether it's your first or your tenth, takes time. You have to be willing to invest the time you need to make a smart decision. This process is called due diligence. It means that you and only you have to make sure that the deal is a good deal for you.
You can't just sit back and trust that the bank will watch out for you. Many homeowners are in trouble today for doing just that. They thought that since they got approved for a certain loan amount that that was the amount they could afford.
They never stopped to consider that the bank only looks at the numbers of their financial situation. With them it's all black and white. They don't know that you need a lot of extra money every month because you like to travel, or buy new shoes. Only you know that. Make sure you take those factors into consideration before you buy.
Another thing you have to do is have an inspection on any property before you buy it. I would recommend finding a good inspector on your own and not relying solely on the recommendations of your realtor. I hate to make it sound like you can't trust your realtor, but like with any other profession, some are better than others.
If they are hungry for the sale they might suggest someone who could 'fudge' some details of the inspection. It's not likely but to be safe, find your own inspector.
If a problem is found during inspection consider it without emotion. Too many homeowners throw common sense out the window because they have an emotional attachment to a property. Instead allow your business mind to click on. Sometimes a small problem can be a great bargaining chip. You may be able to get them to come down on the price (even more than just the cost of the repair) or they may make other concessions.
Even if your bank doesn't make you escrow for your property taxes and insurance, you should do it anyway. It's better to make sure you have the money when you need it. One of the houses I owned I didn't escrow and I thought for sure that I could save the money. Well, you guessed it, when the bills came due I didn't have it. I had to really scramble to make those payments. Never again. No matter what the bank may say, I'm going to escrow.
I hope you take this first time home buyer advice to heart. The best advice in the world won't do you any good if you ignore it. When you pick out your home listen to your heart but when it comes to the financials of that home, listen only to your head.