Homes of Distinction Realty



Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 3/5/2020

Buying your first home is undoubtedly a long and complex process for someone who has little to no experience in the subject. Your average first-time homeowner learns as they go, with the help of their real estate agent and mortgage lender.

But, even so, first-time buyers often make many mistakes along the way that they could have avoided with prior knowledge and preparation.

In todayís article, weíre going to cover 5 of the most common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make when purchasing a home. From the first house you look at up until closing on your first home, weíll cover common mistakes from each step of the way to give you the knowledge you need to make the best home buying decisions.

1. Shopping for homes preemptively

Once you decide that youíre interested in potentially buying a home in the near future, itís tempting to hop online and start looking at listings. But, searching for your dream home at this stage is a poor use of your time.

Itís best to use this time to start thinking about the bigger picture. Have you secured financial aspects of owning a home, such as a down payment, a solid credit score, and two years of steady employment history?

Youíll also need to have a clear picture of what you want your life to look like for the next 5-7 years. Will you still want to live in the same area, or will your job lead you elsewhere?

These are all questions to ask yourself before you start house hunting that will inform your process along the way and make your hunt a lot easier.

2. Not knowing your budget

Itís a common mistake for first-time buyers to go into the house hunting process without a clearly mapped budget. You want to make sure that after all of your expenses (mortgage payment, utilities, bills, debt, etc.) that you still have leftover income for savings, retirement, and an emergency fund.

Make a detailed spreadsheet of your expenses and determine how much you can afford each month before you start shopping for mortgages.

3. Borrowing the maximum amount

While it may be tempting to buy the most expensive house you can get approved for, there are a number of reasons this might be a bad idea for you, financially. Stretching your budget each month is putting yourself at risk for not being able to contribute to savings, retirement, and emergency funds.

Furthermore, you may find that the extra square-footage you purchased wasnít worth having to cut corners in other areas of your life, like hobbies, entertainment, and dining out.

4. Forgetting important expenses

If youíre currently renting an apartment, you might be unaware of some of the lesser-known costs of homeownership. Your chosen lender will provide you with an estimate of the closing costs, which youíll have to budget for.

However, there are also maintenance, repairs, utilities, and other bills that youíll have to figure into your monthly budget.

5. Waiving contingencies or giving the benefit of the doubt

While it may seem like an act of goodwill to give the seller the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like home inspections, itís usually a bad idea to waive contingencies.

The process of purchasing a home, along with a purchase contract, have been designed to protect both your interests and the sellerís interests. It isnít selfish to want to know exactly what youíre getting into when making a purchase as significant as a home.





Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 10/10/2019

Youíve closed on your new house, moved all your boxes, and started planning how to arrange your furniture. Your family canít wait to settle in and regain a sense of normalcy after the chaos of moving. But before you get back to your normal routine be sure to add these tasks for new homeowners to your to do list. Each takes just an hour of your time and will help you to stay on top of maintenance as well as familiarize yourself with your new domain.

Start by finding out where your main water shutoff valve is located. This is not something you want to have to find when you are in an emergency. In colder climates, itís most likely to be found in your basement and if you are in a warmer climate you should find it outside. If you keep a binder for home updates add a note of the location within.

Make sure your attic insulation is the correct depth. You want at least 6 inches and even more in northern states. Ensuring that your insulation is the correct depth will help you to save money throughout the year on heating and cooling costs. If youíre attic doesnít have the correct depth or is damaged be sure to have it replaced as soon as possible. Oftentimes you can get incentives for improving your insulation and thus creating a more energy efficient home.

Check the temperature of your hot water heater and be sure it is set at 120 degrees tops. If you have an older model add a hot water heater blanket to help retain heat. If you find that your heater leaks you want to replace it immediately. A small leak can quickly lead to a major one, flood your home and cause serious damage. Again, be sure to keep note of the month and year you replaced your heater or which year your current model is.

Replace air filters right away so that you will know when theyíve last been replaced. Add monthly reminders to your calendar to stay on top of this quick maintenance task. You can make this task even easier by buying them in bulk. If you love to be organized label them for each month so you know exactly when youíll next need to replace them.

Change all of the locks on your home. This is simple enough to do on your own and is an easy proactive safety measure for your family. While one hopes there are no lingering keys out in the world of your home, you canít be sure of who may have a spare key.  

Take note of any cracks in your basement. If you find any mark their length with a piece of masking tape and mark with the current date. Watch closely to see if the crack spreads beyond the mark. If you find that the cracks are lengthening be sure to get them taken care of by a professional. This is a serious repair you donít want to wait on.

Buying a new home is an exciting time. Especially after youíve closed on the house, can begin to move in and start settling into your routine. Before you get too comfortable be sure to add a few tasks to your to do list. Familiarizing yourself with your new home right away will help you stay on top of maintenance and have peace of mind.




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Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 9/28/2018

Newlywed life is such an exciting time! Itís also a time many couples decide to buy their first home together. And therefore aside from having a wedding, itís the first major financial decision couples make together. Hit the ground running together with these tips:

Co-managing money: If they havenít already combined finances before the big day many couples choose to do so after marriage. Learning how to manage money on your own is a task unto itself but managing it together is a vital skill for newlyweds. You can avoid unnecessary fights over money down the road by getting on the same page financially now. Get really honest with each other. Put everything on the table, especially various debts you each may hold, from credit cards to school loans itís all important to get a true snapshot of your combined finances.

Create a budget for your life together. Calculate your combined expenses. Consider where you can cut back on services and habits to save money and what you need to add to your budget. Be sure to consider: savings for a nest egg, vacations, car repairs, and unexpected medical emergencies. You may also want to begin saving up to start a family or plan for retirement. When you have a complete picture of your finances you can then look at whatís left over. What kind of down payment and/or monthly payments will you be able to realistically make with this amount?

Youíll also want to talk to each other about your lifestyle goals. If youíve always dreamed of living in the city or a small tightly-knit town. Perhaps youíve always imagined a large, spacious home while your partner is thinking of something smaller to focus more on traveling. Do you want a garage, a big yard, a pool or to be close to family? Getting clear on what you each expect from your ideal home will help you find the perfect middle ground where you will both be happy.

Itís best to be able to make at least 20% of the house cost for a down payment. The higher the down payment you can make the better as youíll have lower monthly payments and wonít get hit with extra fees from your insurance. If you canít save up this amount, look into first-time buyer loans which allow new buyers to make a smaller down payment.

Be prepared. Remember to plan and budget for closing costs on your home. You donít want this price tag to catch you off guard. Other things to be financially prepared for throughout the year are property taxes, homeownerís insurance as well as maintenance and upkeep.

Being newlyweds is an exciting time where you have the rest of your life together to look forward to. And buying a new home, in a lot of ways, can feel like the first major step in laying down the foundation for a long, happy life together.




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Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 5/18/2018

Making the decision to buy your first home is a big step. One of the most uncertain parts thatís involved in buying a home is that of securing a first-time mortgage. Youíll need to know what types of programs exist to help you on your journey to homeownership. Even if you have owned a home in the past but are now renting your home, you may be eligible for first-time mortgage benefits. 


The first thing you should do is understand your options for getting a mortgage. The Department of Housing and Urban Development often provides you with agents to help you see whether you will, in fact, qualify for a first time mortgage and all the benefits that go along with it. They may also help you to see exactly what programs will work best for you. You can find agencies in your specific area on the HUD website. 


Each state and local municipality have its own resources for those seeking to buy a home as well. These programs may get more specific, helping low-income earners, first-time home buyers and people with disabilities. Of course, youíll need to meet certain eligibility requirements before qualifying for the programs. Your state and local housing offices are other great places to start when youíre searching for benefits for first-time home buyers.   


Save, Save, Save! 


Even before you think you might be ready to buy a home, you need to start saving. Youíll need a significant down payment, especially if youíre hoping to avoid private mortgage insurance or PMI. If you canít swing a 20% down payment, thereís good news: First-time home buyers are eligible for loans that require a lower down payment- as little as 3%! 


Youíll also need a significant amount of savings to pay upfront for closing costs. These fees can come in somewhere between 3 and 4% of the purchase price of the home. It wonít be very pleasant if your bank account is completely empty by the time you reach the closing table. This is why itís a wise idea to save long before you even think you might want to buy a home.      



Look At Your Finances


In the same light of saving money, youíll want to keep your financial health in check in order to prepare to secure your first mortgage. First, check your credit score and see where you stand. You can take the time to dispute any discrepancies you may find on your report. Then, start paying off any credit card balances that you may have. Remember that the higher your credit score is, the better your chances are of securing a mortgage and being approved for a first-time home buyer program.





Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 4/6/2018

The homebuying process can be stressful, particularly for those who are purchasing a house for the first time. From the time it takes to find your "dream" home to the final closing, there may be many hurdles that you'll need to overcome to secure your ideal home. As such, it sometimes can be difficult for a first-time homebuyer to maintain a positive outlook during the most challenging times.

Lucky for you, we're here to help you remain calm, cool and collected throughout the entire homebuying cycle.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers maintain a positive outlook at each stage of the homebuying journey:

1. Establish Realistic Expectations

Although first-time homebuyers would like to believe the property buying journey will be quick and seamless, it is important to realize that problems can arise without notice. However, homebuyers who understand the ins and outs of purchasing a house should have no trouble identifying potential issues and minimizing their impact.

For example, a homebuyer who defines his or her ideal residence can narrow a home search accordingly. This homebuyer also will be able to check out a variety of houses based on assorted property buying criteria and boost his or her chances of discovering the perfect residence without delay.

A homebuyer who establishes realistic expectations will be ready for the worst-case scenarios too. And if this homebuyer submits an offer to purchase a home that ultimately gets rejected, he or she will remain confident and be ready to restart the homebuying cycle from stage one.

2. Become an Informed Homebuyer

A first-time homebuyer who learns about the housing market can improve his or her chances of getting the best possible results.

Allocating the necessary time and resources to understand the differences between a buyer's market and a seller's market, for instance, can make a world of difference for any homebuyer, at any time.

Furthermore, an informed homebuyer may be more likely than others to get pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, this property buyer can set a budget for his or her home search and increase the likelihood of securing a terrific house at an affordable price.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to purchasing a home for the first time, why should a homebuyer leave anything to chance? Instead, a homebuyer can work with a real estate agent to reduce the risk of potential pitfalls throughout the homebuying cycle.

A real estate agent is happy to respond to a homebuyer's concerns and questions as the property buying journey progresses. This housing market professional will even help a homebuyer maintain a positive outlook, regardless of what happens. That way, a real estate agent can assist a homebuyer through both good times and bad and ensure a property buyer can purchase a first-rate house that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.

Take advantage of these tips, and any first-time homebuyer can keep things positive at each stage of the homebuying cycle.




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