The new year is still fresh. Maybe you haven’t given a lot of thought yet to the next 12 months. Or maybe you have. No matter how good or bad 2018 was for you, you’ve got a fresh start right now. How are you going to make the most of it? Are you looking to buy a new home in 2019? It’s a good time right now. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, consider these tips, courtesy of McGuinn Hybrid Homes.It’s a big decision but doesn’t have to be a permanent one.You might fear the commitment of buying a home. What if you decide to move in a couple of years? You can’t predict the future, but don’t postpone your life for the “what if’s”. If you decide to move in a couple of years, you can sell or rent your home, and likely turn a profit. Instead of paying rent, invest in a home. Real estate values are on the rise—but so are home prices and interest rates. The longer you wait, the more you’ll pay.Add up the total cost of ownership.The price you pay for a home isn’t the same as the cost to own it. You might find that a resale home is less expensive than a new one, but you should consider the other funds you’ll need to invest. Add in everything necessary to make this home the way you want it—like replacing a roof or air conditioning system, buying major appliances, redoing the floors, and rewiring for your smart technology. While an existing home might appear to save you money, there could be a lot more costs involved in actually owning it. Remember that a new home comes with brand new systems and appliances. It comes with numerous warranties. You don’t have to worry about footing the bill for repairs. How much is THAT worth to you?Pay attention to the energy efficient features.Don’t underestimate that value of a well-built home that reflects a builder’s commitment to energy efficiency. From the construction and HVAC system to the appliances, insulation, and fixtures, everything contributes to the carbon footprint of your home. A home should be designed, engineered, and built to “perform”—creating a comfortable, safe atmosphere while using less energy. Why pay more to heat or cool your house because it doesn’t have top-notch insulation in the walls and ceilings, and radiant barrier sheathing in the attic? Plus, systems like a tankless water heater save energy, work better, and last longer. You’ll be paying energy bills as long as you own your home, so be sure to consider everything that impacts those costs. Also, remember that an energy-efficient home carries a higher resale value than those that are not as eco-friendly. Take a look at these “green building” features included in McGuinn Hybrid Homes so you can see how they affect your investment.Talk to a mortgage lender first.There are plenty of mortgage programs out there. Before you start looking for a home, learn which one best fits your financial situation. If you don’t have a large down payment, ask about programs, like FHA home loans, that require as little as 3.5% down. A mortgage professional can also give you guidance on preparing to buy a home. Find out how to improve your credit score, how much to set aside for closing costs, and what’s involved in getting a mortgage. You should also get pre-approved so you can shop for a home that’s within your reach.If your new home search brings you to the Columbia, SC, area, talk to us at McGuinn Hybrid Homes. Our communities of new construction, single-family homes and townhomes are located near the lakes, in good school districts, and close to all the amenities you need. Want to build a home on your land? We have experience with that, too. With mortgage payments that could be less than your current rent, you owe it to yourself to make this important move in 2019.