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As a First-Timer, How to Commit to Homeownership

I thought the following piece on realtor.com was an interesting follow up to our last week's blog post about renting vs. home ownership.  When we realtors work with first time home buyer's, we often talk them through some (if not all) of the following list of topics:  speak to a bank about your finances to gain clarity about what you can comfortably afford, explain why it is beneficial to work with a buyer's agent vs. looking on one's own (real time info, having a dedicated advocate), realize that there is a certain amount of inherent risk in any home purchase, understand what our local market in the Northampton, MA area has to offer - and work towards adjusting your wish list to jive with the real list of options, have your ducks in a row to be ready to make a bid, and, lastly, enjoy your new home!  Anne Miller and Melissa Paul sum these topics up nicely in the following blog post...

Trouble Pulling the Trigger? Here's How to Commit to Homeownership

Trouble Pulling the Trigger? Heres How to Commit to Homeownership photo

You've saved for a down payment. You've pored over the local listings for months. Touring open houses has become part of your weekend ritual. But months, perhaps years, have passed and you are still in your rental.

For many first-time homebuyers, pulling the trigger on a purchase can be a frightening experience. Will you be happy there? Will you like your neighbors? Will you be tied down--house rich and cash poor? What if you lose your job? Will you hate your commute? In short, your fears stem from the unknown.Meanwhile, your current home is familiar. You've come to accept its shortcomings--the loud neighbors, the leaky ceiling, the scant street parking. It has few surprises.Take Paolo Forte, the eternal condo-shopper, who looked for years in Boston."I have actually seen condos come on the market, sell, and then be resold a second time," Forte said. "While I've been waiting, condo prices continue to rise, and I keep spending more money on rent."In Betsy Townsend's years as a REALTOR® in Boston's pricey Beacon Hill, she's seen everything."I find that people often hesitate to make the 'biggest purchase of their life' because they fear they will make a 'bad investment' and pay too much," Townsend said. "Sometimes people lose sight of the fact that they are looking for a place to live instead of just an investment."Still, there's hope. Your family, friends and co-workers took the leap and are reaping the benefits. Give these steps a try and you could be one of them:

Firm Up Your Finances

Anticipate the new costs that you will incur, such as taxes, homeowners insurance, utility bills and commuting. This will help determine the maximum price you can spend on a house. If your daily budget will change with a new home, consider a trial run living on that budget for a few weeks, to make sure you can. Enlisting the help of a financial expert will give you an objective view of your finances. Remember, the first year is the most difficult. After that you will begin receiving tax benefits.

Partner With an Agent

Even though the Internet gives you access to endless amounts of market information, don't be tempted to go it alone. Instead, interview several real estate agents and find one you like who listens to you. He or she can line up properties to view, answer many of your questions and make connections for you in your new community. Agents often have the inside track on new properties just coming on the market.

Accept Some Risk

Realize that there is uncertainty in everything, but no matter what happens, you will deal with it. Ask family and friends about their experiences and learn from them. Be sure to keep some cash reserves in the bank as a safety net. And remember, you have homeowner's insurance for a reason.

Fine Tune Your 'Must-Haves'

Is there a community that you absolutely must live in? Are you adamant about a garage, a fireplace or a finished basement? Make your list of what's vital. You may find that you are willing to sacrifice one feature if the rest are fabulous. If you are not crazy about the house, don't bid. It's important that you love it at the outset.

Be Ready to Bid

Regardless of the market, great houses do not stay available for long. One open house can lead to three offers. If you love it, be ready to make your best offer. If you are wavering, ask yourself, "How will I feel if I don't get this house?" You might just get it, and if not, at least you will know you tried.

Reap the Reward

Owning a home can be one of the most exciting and satisfying things you will do in your life. It's an investment that can pay you personal dividends as well as financial benefits.

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

Melissa Paul contributed to this article.

via As a First-Timer, How to Commit to Homeownership -- realtor.com. By: Anne Miller

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