March 1, 2024

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
State of play: My partner and I bought our first home this summer. We struck gold, going under contract during our second weekend of hunting. After seeing nine homes in a single day, we found the one. But the market in Charlotte has been no friend to buyers. 
By the numbers: The average sales price in Mecklenburg County rose from $530,728 in May to $555,025 in June, per Canopy, and houses were flying off the market when we started looking. 
Why it matters: You’ve probably heard the saying, “it’s better to own than to rent.” This isn’t feasible for everyone. My parents, for instance, didn’t buy their first home until they were in their 50s. Everyone’s journey is different.
The bottom line: While our experience isn’t typical for the Charlotte market, we learned a lot about the home-buying process. If you’re in the middle of house hunting or about to embark on the adventure, hopefully this will help you. 
Here are six tips for first-time home buyers, plus expert advice from Charlotte realtor’s Jeff Clay of Clay Realty Group and Lisa Warren of Cottingham Chalk Realtors
The list price probably isn’t the price you’ll end up paying. Even if it is, closing costs, attorney fees and an inspection are all out-of-pocket expenses. 
Move quickly when you find a home you can see yourself living in and more importantly, a home you want to live in. It’s competitive out there. We saw our home in the morning and were under contract in about 12 hours. 
Whatever you think you’re saving by skipping an inspection isn’t worth it. Get the inspection. 
We’ve all heard the cliche in relationships about someone not being perfect, but they’re perfect for you. The same goes for buying a home.
Make sure you are sending a wire (this will appear as a same-day wire) and not an automated clearing house (ACH) transfer calling itself a next-day wire.
Clay suggests speaking with multiple mortgage lenders, not just the types of mortgages available to you. He also said you probably won’t see a drastic difference in terms of interest rates between lenders, but you do want to work with someone who will work to determine the best strategy for your situation.
You have the traditional 15, 20 and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. 
You also have adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), which contributed to the housing crash in 2008, because adjustable rates led to borrowers not being able to make higher payments. And six million American homes experienced foreclosure, per NYU Law
Go deeper: 5 things to know if you’re a first-time homebuyer in Charlotte

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