Chance of a Lifetime: Tips for First-Time Buyers

While the burst real estate bubble might be bad news for the economy, it could be good news for first-time homebuyers. In fact, now might just be the best buying opportunity of a lifetime. Follow these steps to determine where to begin:

Establish a Realistic Budget. Owning a home involves more costs than meet the eye. In addition to mortgage, taxes and insurance, wise homebuyers set aside a little savings toward maintenance and unexpected emergencies. Remember, you will eventually need to repair or replace many items in the home.

Buy What You Need. While real estate is often considered an excellent investment, it’s important to only purchase as much home as you actually need. Bigger isn’t always better; sometimes it’s simply more expensive. Higher taxes, bigger insurance bills and more maintenance can eat away at even the best budgets. So buy what you need, unless it’s wise for you to…

Plan for Growth. First-time buyers can also be too modest when it comes to purchasing their first homes. If you intend to begin a family, you may quickly outgrow the home. Plan for growth to ensure you will be as happy in the home tomorrow as you are today.

Understand Appreciation. Although you don’t want to base the purchase of your home solely upon appreciation, it’s important to understand how the future value of your home is likely to impact your ability to move up later in life. When the time comes to sell, rent or exchange the current property, a home with long-term appreciation provides greater buying options in the future. Search for neighborhoods expected to rise in value over time.

Work with a Reputable Agent. A great real estate agent or broker is often worth his or her weight in gold, which is why you will typically find that investors would never think of going it alone. Unfortunately, many first-time buyers are under the mistaken impression they can save money by helping the seller eliminate or reduce the commission. Research shows this is rarely the case. Most agents help negotiate a lower sales price and ensure that funding, necessary paperwork and other important legal considerations are all taken care of.

June 2009

Easy Touch-Ups to Give Your Home Curb Appeal

Spruce up your yard in time for summer entertainment with these quick and affordable fixes for the most common curbside complaints.

Pressure Wash and Spray. Start at the roof, then work your way down, to remove stains and dirt from walkways, driveways and even fences. Whiten and brighten the concrete, crevices and other corners of your home and yard to lighten the entire area.

Clear the Clutter. Trim and remove low branches and excess clutter to create the look and feel of clear, open space. Consider purchasing plastic partitions or other low-maintenance storage units to hide away trash cans and other unsightly items that add to the perception of clutter and detract from the beauty of your home.

Touch Up the Paint. Shutters, doors and awnings are all prone to excessive wear and tear over the winter months; make a point of touching up the paint. It’s an easy and affordable way to revitalize the look of your home.

Add a Touch of Color.
Bring in fresh mulch; then follow up with strategically placed flowers, potted plants and other enhancements throughout the yard. This will add interest while helping hide those tough trouble spots. |

Create a Focal Point.
The most successful landscapes incorporate a central element that serves as the focal point for the entire area. Use the same strategy in your own yard. Begin with something affordable and small like a garden bench or pond to add elegance and appeal.

June 2009