It’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your lifetime—so it can naturally be something that wakes you in the middle of the night, makes your palms sweaty, and causes you to glance nervously at your bank account and credit score. However, it can also be an fun process with an exciting outcome, when you do finally find or build your dream home.

Let’s unpack some of those homebuyer fears – and identify a plan to combat them.

The fear: I can’t afford a mortgage payment.
We get it. Especially for first-time homebuyers, the prospect of saving for a down payment and budgeting for your mortgage payment each month, with utilities and other bills on top of that, can be daunting. But chances are, if you can afford to rent, you can probably afford to buy.

The Cure: Meet with a lender and/or financial advisor you trust.
Look at your monthly expenses, debts, and income, to determine a monthly payment that would be comfortable for you. Once you have that monthly payment number, you can zero in on an appropriate purchase price. Once you find a neighborhood/home you like, contact the local utility company to inquire about average utility costs so you can build that into your monthly budget. Remember, you’ll pay housing costs whether you rent or own. However, when you own your home you’re building equity, enjoying tax benefits, and working toward the day you finally own your home outright. Nerdwallet also has a handy calculator that can help determine if owning or renting would be better for you. Read more about owning versus renting here:

The fear: What if I choose the wrong home, and have buyer’s remorse?
In a society where nearly everything we purchase can be returned, it’s natural that we worry about post-purchase dissonance on a high dollar item like a house.

The Cure: Do your homework.
Take your time as you explore neighborhoods and home styles. If you’re leaning toward a new build, ask your sales representative about options, floor plans, homesites, and timelines, and don’t be afraid to make several trips out to the sales center or model home gallery to confirm your first impression. Also ask about “hard hat tours,” to see homes in progress, and plan to tour homes in the community that are being resold after just a few years. These will help you understand how the home wears over time.

The fear: I won’t be able to find my dream home.
Perhaps you’ve heard horror stories about multiple offer situations, and a real estate market that’s so hot that buyers are writing offers at their lunch break, only to be outbid by cash investors.

The cure: Opt for a new build.
Because builders like Shea Homes work on a long-term development timeline, carefully choosing which floor plans go on what homesites, and releasing small groupings of homesites at a time, homebuyers don’t always have to make split-second decisions. Rather, they can preview homesites, tour the Model Homes, and then decide on the best fit for their family. Although every community does have a limited number of homesites, buyers can ask about priority lists, which can help them stay in the loop when new homesites become available. Then, once they’ve selected their homesite, they can personalize the finishes in their new home to meet their exacting criteria.

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