Market Matters: I’m a first-time home buyer. Where do I start?

Illustration by Muti

Buying your first home can feel a lot like teetering on the edge of a high dive. Blindfolded. So how to proceed? Education and careful consideration are key. “First, sit down with an agent, someone who can be an advisor, to get a handle for the process,” says Pete Kopf, a real estate agent who has guided his fair share of Cincinnatians through the process. “Then talk to a loan officer or lender to understand what you can afford—and more important, what you want to spend in light of the other costs that come with home ownership,” Kopf says. “And take a macro look at things. Most first-time buyers are in a house two to seven years, then they’re selling. Often buyers are so dialed-in to finding exactly the perfect house that they forget this isn’t the forever house.”

Kopf says that first-timers are looking for “compact, self-sustaining urban neighborhoods with strong business districts and other destinations nearby.” Fortunately, Cincinnati has plenty, in areas where buyers can get a lot of house for their dollar: Think Oakley, Northside, Pleasant Ridge—and revitalization occurring in Madisonville and Price Hill—to start.

Take your time browsing to get a sense of what’s out there, but be prepared. “When you’re ready to buy, you had better be ready to buy,” he says, “because houses are just selling so quickly.”

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