Real Estate Blog

25 TIPS FOR FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS

Buying a home can be nerve-racking, especially if you're a first-time home buyer.

These tips will help you navigate the process, save money and avoid common mistakes. We organized them into four categories:

  • Mortgage down payment tips.

  • Mortgage application tips.

  • House shopping tips.

  • First-time home buyer mistakes to avoid.

Mortgage down payment tips

1. Start saving for a down payment early

It’s common to put 20% down, but many lenders now permit much less, and first-time home buyer programs allow as little as 3% down. But putting down less than 20% may mean higher costs and paying for private mortgage insurance, and even a small down payment can still be hefty.

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SO, WHAT EXACTLY DOES A REALTOR® DO FOR YOU?

Pat Vredevoogd-Combs, past president of the National Association of REALTORS®, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Housing to blunt government complaints about industry pricing.

As part of her testimony, she submitted a list of 184 things that listing agents do in every real estate transaction.

“By all accounts,” she said, “the general public is not aware of all the services that agents provide to sellers and buyers during the course of the transaction, probably because most of the important services are performed behind the scenes.”

Pre-Listing Activities
1. Make appointment with seller for listing presentation.
2. Send a written or e-mail confirmation of appointment and

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First Time Home Buyers, For Buyers, For Sellers, Interest Rates, Move-Up Buyers, Pricing

Over the course of the last 12 months, home prices have appreciated by 7.0%. Over the same amount of time, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market.

As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices

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The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report  from  Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 17.4% less expensive in Honolulu (HI), all the way up to 53.2% less expensive in Miami & West Palm Beach (FL), and 37.7% nationwide!

Other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Interest rates have remained low, and even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation.
  • Home prices would have to appreciate by a range of over 23% in Honolulu (HI), up to over 45% in Ventura County (CA), to reach the
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Home shoppers are increasingly facing steep competition for the limited number of homes for sale.

“Attempting to purchase a house in this type of market can make the already complex process of buying a home even more overwhelming,” the National Association of REALTORS® notes in a recent release.

NAR offers up five suggestions for home buyers navigating today’s competitive market:

 

1. Stick to a budget.

Have buyers get preapproved by one or more lenders to ensure eligibility. Be sure to also take into account extra costs of homeownership, such as taxes, utilities, and insurance. “When listings are scarce, bidding wars can drive up prices, so buyers must be prepared to walk away if the asking price surpasses their budget,” according to

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There are measures you can take around your house to save energy and reduce your utility bills. The following are some tips — some simple, some more involved — from the Energy Star program and other experts:

  • Turn your hot water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep your refrigerator at 37-40 degrees and freezer at 5 degrees.
  • Install and properly use a programmable thermostat (this can save about $180 annually).
  • Install low-flow fixtures.
  • Do only full loads in the washer and dishwasher.
  • Fix any leaky faucets, toilets, pipes, and your roof.
  • Seal heating and cooling ducts (in the typical house, about 20 percent of the air in a duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts).
  • Seal the
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