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

Budgeting Basics for First-time Buyers

Buying your first home is a lot of fun but there is more to it than meets the eye when it comes to budgeting.
Most new home owners are financially savvy enough to calculate the mortgage, interest, taxes, and insurance payments; but tend to forget less obvious expenses.

Here to help are a few budgeting basics for first time home buyers.

Moving Expenses: Truck rentals, time off of work and, of course, – gasoline … moving takes money whether you do it yourself or pay others to do it for you so plan accordingly.

Maintenance: From lawn care to fixing a door knob, owning your own home involves maintenance. Few first time home buyers remember the expense of maintaining a yard until the neighbors start giving them dirty looks. Don’t be caught by surprise because this is one area where expenses can add up fast. Set aside funds for a lawn service and pool maintenance, or plan to purchase the tools required to do it yourself, including lawnmowers, garden and hand tools plus other general maintenance items.

Utilities & Communication:  New home buyers are frequently surprised by the cost of utilities since many apartments include basics like cable, trash, or water.  Set aside enough funds for deposits and the first payment for utilities, phone, cable and other necessities. Don’t forget to find out if your cell phone, cable, and other services are available in the new area – otherwise, you may be forced to break a contract to obtain services.