8 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

When I was getting ready to buy my first home, I was a nervous wreck. Seriously, ask my mom. I was excited, but also terrified. What if the house ended up being something other than exactly what I wanted? What if I ended up purchasing a complete money pit? What if I couldn’t keep up with the maintenance? Buying a home can be stressful. It feels so permanent, especially when you’re used to paying rent and calling a property manager or landlord when you’re having issues with appliances, air conditioning, and more.

6651 Dunwich Way

This is a great listing for first-time homebuyers.

Buying a home is comparatively permanent, in the sense that it’s an important investment—but that doesn’t mean that you have to feel stuck. A good realtor will help you find what you’re looking for and steer you away from a purchase that you’ll come to regret. They’ll help you decide when it’s time to take the plunge and will be there to navigate that scary but joyful process, every step of the way. They’ll also connect you with trusted loan officers, who will lead you to the financing options that work best for you depending on your down payment, financial history, salary, long-term plans, and more.

Before you launch into any of that, though, you can start putting together some basic ideas about what you’re looking for that will guide you as you begin your search. Consider the following tips:

  1. Pay attention to natural light and the way the house shows at varying times of day and in varying weather conditions.
  2. Note the dates of the windows and the roof. It might seem boring and hard to get excited about these things, but a newer roof and windows are worth a lot.
  3. Ride by on nights and weekends. We always tell our clients to get a feel for the community by driving by when people are likely to be home and not at work.
  4. Find out what your commute would be like. Go to the house in the morning and head to work from there to see how manageable or stress-inducing your commute would be.
  5. If possible, get pre-qualified before you start looking. If you come across the home of your dreams, you want to be ready with an offer that day.
  6. Prioritize your criteria and stick with it (budget, school district, size of home, etc.). Determine what is most important to you and what you could compromise on, if necessary.
  7. Be thinking that the home you buy will eventually sell, so consider upgrades that have been done, the design/style of the home, the location, etc. For example, everyone likes open-concept homes these days; this stays pretty consistent among new buyers and those who have bought and sold many times.
  8. Use your realtor as a resource, educate yourself, understand the market, and look at a lot of houses. Ultimately, though, trust your gut. When you see the right house, you’ll know.


8735 Fort Hunt Road

Another great option for first-time homebuyers.


  • The latest from Britt
Born, raised, and bred in Alexandria, VA, Britt Patterson is a true product of the great state of Virginia. Britt attended Waynewood Elementary (Class of ’96), Carl Sandburg Middle School (Class of ’98) , and West Potomac High School (Class of ’02), she then went on to attend Virginia Tech (go Hokies!) where she majored in Business Marketing and Minored in Real Estate. Britt “officially” joined the family business as a licensed Realtor in 2008 after two years of working the political fundraising field and prides herself on her Alexandria real estate knowledge, alongside her integrity, loyalty, and professionalism as an agent and Vice President for the family business.

The Patterson Group is one of the most experienced and trusted real estate teams in the area, serving Alexandria, VA for over thirty years. We offer professional, hardworking, detailed and friendly service and a large network of contacts and resources accrued over our many years in Alexandria real estate. Comprised of seven Alexandria locals, six of whom are licensed realtors and three of whom are accredited staging professionals, The Patterson Group is passionate and knowledgeable about Alexandria, VA and here for all of your Northern VA real estate needs. Allow us to help you find your home here and discover all that the Alexandria lifestyle has to offer.


400 South Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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