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3 Things Every First-Time Homebuyer Should Know

Today I want to share my three top tips to help first-time homebuyers protect themselves during this crucial period.

Buying your first home can be an incredibly exciting time. However, it requires a huge commitment and a sizable investment. That’s why I want to share my three top tips to help first-time homebuyers protect themselves during this crucial period:

1. Know what you can afford

Your mortgage is only a part of what you will need to pay when you buy a home. Homeownership comes with plenty of other expenses, including closing costs, taxes, property insurance, maintenance costs, and homeowner association fees. 

Once you have a clear idea of how much all of these items will cost, you can compare it to your current monthly expenses. Then you can figure out the kind of home you can honestly afford without getting carried away and without getting bogged down in debt. 

2. Choose your lender wisely

Choosing a lender is not something you should base only on the lowest rate. A competent and trustworthy lender will offer you advice on how to improve your credit and also help you take advantage of special homebuyer programs that might benefit you. 

But how do you find the right lender specifically for you? It's often best to get recommendations from friends who have already worked with a lender or from a real estate agent you trust.

3. Don't overlook the details

There are many details that go into buying a home, and missing any of them can be a costly mistake. I always advise buyers to get a professional inspection done on their home, separate from the appraisal. An inspection will set you back about $300, but it can save you thousands of dollars down the line, and it can even prevent you from making a decision to buy a home that you would later regret. 

"An inspection will cost about $300, but it can save you thousands."

A second example is understanding the fine print in the various contracts you will be signing. If there's anything that isn't clear to you, talk to your real estate agent and have it spelled out.

The process of buying a home can be intimidating, and that's why professional real estate agents are there to help. These three quick tips are only the start of the things you need to watch out for when buying your first home.

If you need more advice or you are ready to start looking for a home, get in touch with me. I love working with first-time homebuyers, and I can help you get your perfect new home with minimum hassle.

6 Tips for Home Sellers With Pets

If you own any pets, there are six additional steps that you need to take in order to have a successful home sale.

There are many steps involved in the home selling process. If you own pets, there are a few additional steps you should take in order to have a successful home sale: 

1. Check your insurance. Although you know that your pets would never hurt anyone, they could mistake a potential buyer for an intruder and scratch or bite the buyer. You would be held liable for any harm that your pet causes, so make sure that your homeowners insurance protects you. 

2. Prepare your yard. Buyers will walk through your yard, and that stroll will be ruined if they step in a mess or roll their ankle where your dog likes to dig. Make sure that you double bag the waste before disposing so that your garbage cans don’t smell when buyers walk past. Fill all of the holes in the backyard and sprinkle grass seed on top.

Before you put your house on the market, make sure that your yard is a green oasis. Pet waste can create brown or yellow spots in your lawn. Aerate the lawn, seed worn spots, or replace ugly patches with new sod. Then, train your pet to use a different spot or take them for long walks. 

3. Remove odors. This is one of the biggest challenges for pet owners. It is easy to clean the cat’s litter box and put it away, but it’s harder to erase years of piddle from rugs and hardwood floors. If a bacteria-eating pet odor remover doesn’t quite work, you may need to hire a professional to clean your carpets. In extreme cases, you may even need to replace those carpets. You should also clean turtle, hamster, or guinea pig cages before showings, and make those fish tanks sparkle. 

4. Clean up the hair. Not only does a layer of pet hair on the floor make your house look messy, it can also trigger allergies and send buyers sneezing out the door. Before each showing, vacuum and dust to remove settled hair and dander. If your pet sheds, brush them outside so you don’t have hair flying around the house. Regularly grooming your pet helps reduce shedding, too. 

5. Hide the evidence. When you have a pet, you tend to accumulate a lot of stuff: sweaters, toys, leashes, food, and more. No matter how adorable you think everything is, buyers will only see clutter. Stow your pets’ items in a closet or cupboard, put dry food bins in the laundry room, and wash pet beds to remove odors. 

"Set up a play date for your pet during home showings."

6. Say goodbye to your pets, just for a while. If you decide to leave them at home during showings, crate your pets or confine them to a special area of the house. Make sure the agent knows where they are! Keep your pets busy with long-lasting treats or interactive toys. However, it is best for everyone if you make a play date for your pet or send them to grandma’s house during the showing. 

If you have any other questions about the home selling process, just give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

What Does It Really Cost to Buy a Home?

What is the true cost of buying a home? In addition to the sales price, there are many other costs and fees that you need to be aware of before you make your purchase. 

When you purchase a home, the sales price is not necessarily the total price of the home. In reality, there are a few extra costs and fees that you need to consider. 1. How much are your property taxes? The amount can fluctuate, but knowing this number will better prepare you. Property taxes have the largest impact on your monthly mortgage payment. 2. What are your utility costs? Gas and electric bills can drastically alter your expenses depending on the season, so make sure you take them into account. 3. What is the cost of furnishing the home? Set aside some extra cash for new furniture or appliances without having to run up your credit. Remember, don’t purchase anything while you are under contract; wait until after you close on the home to get your new furniture.

Don’t buy any furniture until after the close of escrow.

4. How much will your home insurance cost? Home insurance costs vary from agency to agency and will affect your monthly mortgage payment. Make sure that you get a policy with excellent coverage. If you aren’t sure where to get home insurance or you need help furnishing your home, let us know. 

We can refer you to vendors to help you with these different services. Of course, if you have any other real estate questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We would be happy to help you!