Buying your first home can simultaneously be the most exciting and the most stressful experience in your life. Although it can be difficult to navigate the confusing waters on the path to homeownership, most homeowners will tell you that the benefits of owning your own home are definitely worth the initial struggle.
Fortunately, we live in a day and age where technology can help make the process a bit easier. As a homeowner who purchased my first home just a few months ago, I can tell you there are definitely several things I’ve learned about using tech to streamline the process of purchasing and protecting my new home. Here are six of the top tech tips I have to offer first-time home buyers from my experience as a techie and a new homeowner!
1. Install Apps to Quickly Compare Housing Costs
Apps like Zillow and Trulia are not only great for use during your initial search, but they are also awesome for comparing property prices while you’re onsite at a home of interest. Before you head out to view a home with your realtor, be sure to download at least one of these apps. If you end up liking the property, check out the prices on surrounding properties to get a feel for the overall value of the neighborhood.
If you’d like to get more specific with the potential property value of the home you’re looking at, Property Evaluator is a solid choice to help you get a better idea of how far you could potentially negotiate down to get to a better price on your property.
2. Research Neighborhood Information Before Your Offer
Conducting a thorough online search for info on your neighborhood prior to making your offer could help you avoid a lot of hassle down the road. Some of the major areas of focus for your research should be crime rates, reported electrical issues, building age, potential area pests, and HOA reputation.
3. Set Google Calendar Notifications for Financial Deadlines
Getting on the same page with my lender about financial deadlines was possibly one of the biggest issues I faced during the purchasing process. To avoid getting surprise calls that your closing costs are due by the end of the day, work with your lender to set up notifications for financial deadlines in a shared Google calendar. Be sure to set a few reminders for larger payments like your down payment so you have a few days in advance to get the money together.
If you need help getting started, Google’s online support team has created a step-by-step guide to help new users set up shared calendars.
4. Invest in Up-to-Date Security
Once you’ve spent all of the time and effort (and let’s not forget money!) it takes to purchase your new home, it will be important to protect your investment. Even if the property you purchase has its own exterior security, it is a smart idea to invest in your own interior security. This is because you never know if the quality of your neighborhood’s security meets today’s high industry standards. There are lots of high tech options for indoor security cameras available at a reasonable cost through security service providers who can also provide monitoring. If you’d prefer to take the DIY approach and self-monitor your home, there are still some great options like Nest and Piper.
5. Up Your Game on Identity Theft Prevention
As a homeowner, identity protection becomes increasingly important now that your perceived value to potential thieves has significantly increased. If you haven’t already taken steps to protect your identity from on and offline thieves, now is the perfect time!
If you’re not quite sure where to start, I’d recommend doing your research to find simple ways you can effectively reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. If you’re new to the process of protecting your identity, ID Theft Authority offers up an excellent guide to help you get started.
6. Organize Your Bill Pay System
When you were renting, chances are a lot of your utilities were included in a lump sum you paid at the end of the month. When you’re a homeowner, things get a bit trickier. If you’re like me and would prefer not to set up auto payments, you can use apps to set reminders and track your spending and more effectively keep up on your new monthly payments. I prefer to use Mint to track my finances, but there are lots of other awesome options available to help you manage your monthly bills and spending.
Now that you’ve got the home buying tips, it’s time to start your search. If you have any questions or additional tips for fellow first time home buyers, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.