101 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Bought My First Home

  1. Your first diamond reels casino review will drain more of your money that you expect.  That’s just a fact, and I’ve never seen otherwise. I mean, ever. Whatever things you know you want to do once the house is yours – paint, remodeling, landscaping, etc. – will never be the final list. Once you move in and live in the home a few weeks, you’ll learn what items are truly at the top of your priority list.  There will always be more than you expected, and it will always cost more than you planned.
  1. Your first home will drain more of your time than you realize.  This goes along with Thing Number 1, and it is always true.  Any repairs you hire out will cost more money. The things you choose to do yourself will be less costly in terms of money, but will almost always require your time. A leaky faucet might look like a 30 minute job….until you are laid out underneath the kitchen sink, your back aching, soaking wet, two hours later.  While everyone else has gone to bed, you are still trying to finish that 30-minute job.  You’ll get there, but it often takes a little longer than expected.
  1. Your life will change, perhaps drastically, over the next 5 to 10 years.  Do your best to visualize what that might entail, and incorporate as much of that anticipated change into your home purchase. It is very common for new home owners – especially first-time owners – to find within only a few years that their home no longer fits their lifestyle.  Have they changed jobs and added a longer commute? Are babies on the way, or already crawling around? There are many changes that will inevitably come, whether we are ready or not. It is important to simply anticipate as many of these life changes as we can, so we can build them into our home purchase before the fact.
  1. At some point you may lie awake in your new home thinking, “Was this the correct choice?”  This is natural, relax.  Buyer’s remorse is real, especially when there are lots of zeros involved. After all, this isn’t a pair of sneakers at the mall. This is possibly the biggest and most important purchase you will ever make.  But let’s take a look at the facts.  By this point you probably did your homework.  You probably worked with a trusted real estate agent on your purchase. You saved, you set your parameters and you searched for the right home. Through working with a trusted mortgage professional, you were sure that this purchase fit into your financial picture. Then you had the home inspected so you knew exactly what you were getting.  So the bottom line is, you did your homework!  Congratulations! Now get some rest and wake up ready to enjoy your new home.
  1. There is no hurry.  Be slow.  Be deliberate.  Make a wise choice.  If you feel rushed or pressured, back away.  In many cases, feeling pressured to hurry up and buy is an indication that this may be the wrong house. Now this doesn’t mean you should be out making offers on homes if you are not truly ready, and able, to purchase. And yes, you sometimes have a deadline to actually make a decision. Perhaps you are not the only party making an offer on a home. Or a contract may have some kind of time-related clause regarding home inspections or the like. However, a general rule of thumb is that if you are pressured to act before you are comfortable, you’ll probably be better off walking away.
  1. An honest and reliable real estate agent can help you find hidden opportunities and avoid costly mistakes.  Solid real estate professionals may not know everything, but they could possibly know something important that can save you tons of money.   A possible repair you may need to make. Something specific about your purchase offer or contract. Or a diamond in the rough that might turn out to be exactly what you are looking for. There is always wisdom in the council of multitudes, which is exactly why you need a trusted professional by your side.
  1. New paint can drastically freshen up most rooms.  This is specifically important to keep in mind if you find a property that meets your needs, while falling short on the cosmetics.  In many cases, one of the most cost-effective and impactful improvements you can make to a home is through adding a new coat of paint. It is amazing how much a fresh, new look can transform a home. This upgrade can be even more dramatic if you are trying to freshen things up after a pet or a smoker. When purchasing any home, try to envision the space with colors tailored to your specific tastes. You may be able to purchase a bargain and use paint to transform it into your perfect home.
  1. A solid attorney will communicate with you throughout the process, answering your questions as they arise. In many states, such as New York, attorneys play a big part in the closing process of your home purchase.  In the opinion of many, selecting the right attorney comes down to communication. You will undoubtedly have many questions as you proceed through the process – from the day the seller accepts your purchase offer until you finally close the deal and get the keys.  You want an attorney who’s team will respond to your questions and concerns.  If you need an answer, they should be able to provide it.  This is no different from the other key members of your team – your real estate agent, mortgage professional, inspector, etc.  Your attorney should protect your interests and make the process as stress-free as possible.  The good news is that your agent may have some names of respected attorneys in your area.
  1. Washers and dryers are a pain to remove from a basement. Either pay to have professionals move them, or bring a bunch of friends, pizza and beverages.  Preferably, opt for the pro’s. It is always amazing to watch experienced movers and appliance professionals move heavy washers, dryers, refrigerators and the like in a fraction of time it would take normal human beings. They come prepared with the manpower, equipment and know-how to get the job done quickly and, most importantly for you, safely. Don’t miss a week of work because you tried to move that dryer yourself.
  1. Find a mortgage professional who is willing to set limits and tell you no.  This will protect you, as much as possible, from overextending. Dave Ramsey says it best when he says your home should be a blessing, not a curse. If you bite off more than you can chew, eventually the stress will rise and you will come to regret the home. Don’t let a great time in your life turn sour because you bought too much of a home. Many mortgage professionals will be happy to find you the biggest mortgage possible, regardless of the wisdom in that decision. Find someone you trust, who will partner with you to create the best long-term solution.

  1. Moving companies can be worth their weight in gold.  Pay the money to save your back and the countless hours it would take to move completely on your own.  There are few things in life more stressful than moving, so let’s alleviate this as much as possible. Moving can be physically taxing as well as extremely time-consuming. Many reputable companies will develop a plan for you based on your specific needs and budget. Perhaps you can box some items up yourself and allow the movers to handle all bigger items. Or maybe you’d like them to take care of everything. Whatever your needs, it can be a terrific investment to work with a company that moves people successfully every day.
  1. Avoid the shady, lowest­rate moving outfits.  The van that shows up with a few guys from the neighborhood might not take great care of your belongings.  The old adage is often correct– you get what you pay for. That low-rate moving company may get your things from point A to point B, but it’s possible they’ll damage some of your items. Perhaps they’ll lose something, or even have to come back a few days later to deliver the final items. So don’t trip over dollars to save pennies. Hire someone reputable that you trust. Any by all means, get the full agreement in writing beforehand. The contract should be fulfilled completely before you pay them for their work. If they are good, they will earn every penny, and it will be money well spent on your end.
  1. Make sure your spouse is on board with your new home.  I mean, 1000% on board.  If not, every leaky faucet or blown fuse will be an “I told you so!”  In the best case scenario, your spouse will like the home even more than you. This is a wise insurance policy. One effective strategy is to come up with your home “wish list” prior to looking. What are the things you really need, want or desire? How do you rank these things? Can you live without one of them? With this list in hand, begin your search. This way, you’ll be less likely (although never completely) to succumb to house fever, where emotion grabs a hold and forces your heart to make decisions without consulting your head. Both you and your spouse need to have your home needs met. Otherwise, keep looking.
  1. Your real estate agent should communicate with you constantly.  You deserve a professional agent who will return your calls, emails and texts.  And honestly, in this day and age of technology there is really no reason not to.  Much of my client communication is done via text or email, which is quick effective.  I can respond to my customers much more quickly using technology, and you should be clear with your real estate agent about what communication methods you prefer. For example, I don’t text with my buyers and sellers who prefer a phone call. My goal is to make the process of buying as stress-free as possible, and communicating in their preferred method is crucial. Demand that of your agent.
  1. Having a few extra opinions can be valuable.  (parents, friends, etc.)  After all, there is safety in the counsel of many people.  Others, looking at a home with a different set of eyes, may consider things you hadn’t thought of. Friends and family members may look at the possible purchase from a different angle and give you new ways to look at the situation. Successful business executives and leaders often ask for input from many sources before making critical decisions. Eventually there comes a point where you must make the call, and your opinion, based on all you have gathered, will be a much more informed and educated one.
  1. See the house for what it can be, rather than what it currently is.  When looking at homes, specifically as a first-time buyer, try to envision what it might look like. Considered small upgrades and alterations, and how they may transform the home completely. New paint, landscaping or other cosmetics can often greatly enhance a home at a relatively small expense. The current owner may use that spare room as an office, but perhaps you envision it as the perfect playroom for your two children. Your use will be unique to you, so go into the purchase already seeing the end in mind.
  1. Just because the current home owner keeps a recliner on the front lawn doesn’t mean you have to. The previous owners of our first home did just that. In fact, we still have a photo of the home with that chair right in front. Many people (us) could not imagine a chair like that greeting visitors on the front lawn, but it didn’t deter us. Neither did the bright yellow and red kitchen. That was their taste, not ours. And they were lovely people who cared for the home and maintained it in fine order. That was what was important. You can often gather clues about how a home has been maintained, and what you may encounter as the new owner. That chair may be a clue, or it may nothing more than an ugly chair.
  1. The seller is most likely more interested in selling than you are in buying. YOU have the power and the leverage. Unless you are in a unique circumstance, you can keep looking. They can’t sell without YOU, or another buyer. It’s important to remember that even in a market with limited homes available, there are always more homes to see. You have your pick of many homes. A seller has only one to sell, which takes all pressure off a buyer. As a buyer, you can find a home that fits what you need, or you can simply move on to another house.
  1. Everything is negotiable.  In real estate, most everything can bargained.  From the price, closing date, fixtures included, inspections, etc. When using the services of a trained real estate agent, these negotiations can be smooth and routine. Agents negotiate during transactions every day and, in fact, we expect it as a normal part of any sale. There are so many moving parts with a home purchase that many negotiations – both large and small – are simply part of the process. For example, let’s say you’d like the seller to include the new hot tub on the back deck. Even if it was not originally included with the home, your real estate agent can certainly ask and see if might remain with the home. You never know unless you ask, and that is why you are working with a trusted professional.  It is the professional’s job to ask and secure the best outcome on your behalf.
  1. Remember that a professional inspection will answer many of the questions you have about a property. Write your questions down and address every single issue during the inspection. Your inspector works for you, and their purpose is to give you an objective assessment of the home you are looking to purchase. Be prepared, because bad news might dash your hopes and send you into a funk.  Regardless of what they find, you deserve to know the facts before the transaction.

  1. A real estate agent should be your trusted advisor.  They should be able to put together a team of mortgage professional, attorney, inspector, insurance agent, etc.  Consider your agent to be the quarterback of your real estate team.  Your own, personal Tom Brady.  Your agent will be able to identify trusted professionals who will look out for your best interests through every step of the transaction.
  1. Don’t be offended if a real estate agent wants you to sign an agreement when you begin to look at houses. This is a commitment to give you the utmost service, in return for you not bolting to work with another agent. Should you decide you’d like to part ways with this particular agent, simply be honest and have that discussion. As a busy agent, I would never want to work with someone unless they are completely committed to working with me as well.
  1. House hunting should be fun and pressure­free.  Enjoy seeing what is out there! This is the best way to get a feel for what you like, need and desire in a new home. In fact, you can begin touring open houses well in advance of your purchase. Even if you are still saving up, start poking around to get a feel for your likes and dislikes. That way, you’ll be much further along when the timing is right to begin your search for real.
  1. Most real estate agents are good people.  They aren’t the slick, fast-talkers you see on the TV real estate shows. It bugs me to watch those shows, which portray all agents as slime balls dressed in fancy suits. (I don’t even own an ostentatious, bright pink shirt and gaudy tie) That is TV, and thankfully it is far from reality. Most of the agents I know are good, honest professionals that try their best to get the best outcome for their clients.
  1. Find a reliable plumber, just in case you ever need one.  And you will eventually need one. A trustworthy plumber who can help you in a timely fashion, and at a reasonable rate, is worth his weight in gold. In my experience, many plumbers and contractors simply won’t return your call. Or if they do, it is days later. You need someone who can get back to you quickly to help assess the plumbing issue you need resolved. Plumbing issues usually can’t wait.
  1. Big yards can be great, but mowing them can take money and/or time.  When we tour a property, it is human nature to see yourself hosting large, happy parties in the home or outside in the yard. We envision the expansive room to gather, play and explore. These are a few of the great parts of home ownership, but let’s not forget the upkeep and maintenance such a property involved. Simply understand that the size and beauty of the yard will be a direct result of the amount of time and/or money you invest. You might find yourself stuck in the cycle, draining all your free time each weekend with weeding, mowing, raking, etc. Just keep this consideration in mind when searching for your perfect home.
  1. Your attorney will lay out all the papers for you to sign at closing. You won’t understand many of them. This is where having a solid, trustworthy attorney is huge. Your attorney is a lynchpin member of your real estate team. If you don’t have complete confidence in their ability to assist you, keep shopping. I am fortunate to have worked with some excellent professionals who are terrific in communicating with me and my clients throughout the real estate transaction.
  1. Your home may go up or down in value in the future.  There is no guarantee either way.  We’ve all heard the pitches that owning a home is always better than renting because owning a home guarantees you will build wealth. Many times this is true, but it is never a guarantee. Just this week I spoke with two potential clients and had to break it to them that the homes they have owned for ten years are worth less now than the day they bought them. Real estate works in cycles – up and down and back up again. Eventually, most real estate does appreciate in value. However there is never any set-in-stone guarantee.
  1. Check on the neighbors.  What do their houses look like?  Are they neat?  Do they have cars up on blocks and trash all over the yard?  How about disrespectful teenagers coming and going at all hours of the night? Take note of these important considerations. Drive by the house at different hours of the day, so you can gauge the levels of activity, noise and traffic at different times. My wife and I actually did this before purchasing our home, so much that our eventual neighbors must have thought we were stalkers! But we had seen enough to feel comfortable with the neighbors and the neighborhood before making the purchase.
  1. As a follow­up to 29, get creative and play detective.  Make a plan and stalk the prospective house.  Trust me, I did this. If you truly like a home and are thinking of making an offer, drive by during the evening, when people are returning home from work.  What do you see?  Drive by in the morning and assess the traffic.  Check out the activity level of the neighborhood.  This is important information you won’t get from a scheduled showing.
  1. Open houses are a fun way to see many houses in one day.  Having your own real estate agent take you to see homes is the best case scenario, but also visit open houses any time you can.  If the showing agent gets pushy, tell them you have your own agent.  That will shut most of the aggressive agents down. Some agents will follow you around the house, hoping you’ll suddenly ask them to help you find a home.  But most agents are ethical and won’t harass you once you make it clear you already working with another agent.
  1. Start looking at homes even before you are financially ready to buy.  That way, you’ll have a solid feel for what you need, want, or can do without.  You’ll cut down the time once you are financially ready to take the leap.
  1. Don’t try to buy if you don’t have any money. As Dave Ramsey likes to say, this will increase the likelihood your blessing will become a curse. If you don’t have the down payment, you probably won’t have the necessary funds needed for unexpected repairs either.
  1. When you see the right house, you will know it.  I can’t tell you how many times a client, friend or colleague will see dozens of homes that just don’t measure up. And then, they see the one. They just know it the minute they begin the tour. The home has that perfect feel and instantly seems like the right fit.  Certainly make sure the financial numbers, terms and inspections make sense. But often your gut will guide you toward the correct decision.
  1. Think deeply about the house’s location.  Will it be convenient for you and your family over the next bunch of years? Do you expect to change work locations? Will family be leaving or relocating to the area and, if so, how might that affect this home location. Try to forecast your geographical location and how it might fit your needs in the future.
  1. Whatever you do, STOP any activity that can affect your credit rating.  Opening credit cards, buying new furniture, taking trips, spending on store charge cards, etc. This can have unintended consequences on your credit and ability to purchase.  Many trusted mortgage professionals are amazed at how buyers often do a great job getting themselves financially fit to purchase a home, only to make a large, unwise purchase just before closing. Extra debt obligations close to your purchase can even cause you to lose the home. Find a solid mortgage professional. Trust them and follow their advice.
  1. Talk with your mortgage professional before any change in your employment.  Even if your boss is a huge jerk, do not leave that job before talking things over with your mortgage pro. I know that can be really tough sometimes, because some jerks are really big.  However, changing employment at the wrong time can absolutely kill a home purchase.
  1. Factor in both the purchase price and the taxes.  Rely on your mortgage professional to help you understand the full amount of your monthly payment, and how it might change over the years.
  1. Give your trusted real estate agent a solid idea of what you are looking for in your home purchase. The only way he/she can meet your specific needs is if he knows your needs from the start.  If you absolutely can’t live without black and white subway tiles in the bathroom, say so at the outset.
  1. Consider the weather and season when looking at a home. Will the home look exactly the same during a different part of the year?  For example, is anything being covered up by two feet of snow? Might bushes, trees or overgrowth change once the spring hits? Is there any drainage or water impact that might arise during a different season of the year?  These questions may not lead to anything deal breaking, but rather they’ll allow you to have a solid expectation for your first full year in the home. And if you do come up with anything that might impact your decision, the sellers might have some advice on how they’ve managed the specific issue themselves.

  1. If you don’t have kids yet, but might in the future, think about the school district.  Would this be an acceptable school system for my kids if necessary in the future?  Even if you never end up having kids to send to schools, you can bet prospective buyers of your home will someday have those questions and concerns.
  1. A roof can be expensive to replace, but you can often plan for it.  Replacing a septic system can be very expensive, however that repair is often a surprise.  Talk to your inspector about any concerns you have. And if your septic professional recommends saving the really soft, plush toilet paper for holidays, take that advice to heart.
  1. Don’t pick a home based on what cable provider covers the area.  While you may prefer one over the other (I sure do), it should not be a deal breaker. Let’s be honest – most cable providers can offer you basically the same programming. I can watch Showtime’s “Homeland” on multiple providers. While I might be more comfortable with one provider over another, don’t let this be a major factor in your decision. Cell phone service, on the other hand……
  1. Should your washing machine stop spinning, you may be able to repair it yourself by replacing a simple $20 part. YouTube is very helpful to homeowners!  I did this and the washer lasted another year before finally needing to be replaced. Many homeowners save a lot of money by learning how to make a repair by watching a quick YouTube video.
  1. Automatic garage door installation costs about $1000 and can be a tremendous upgrade to your home. Not only will the new door look clean and new, but it will greatly enhance the upgraded, modern feel of your home. Plus it saves your back from having to lift the heavy door up every time!
  1. Talk to as many homeowners as you can to pick up pearls of home ownership. Your friends and family members will have many additional tips to save you time and money (and hair) during your first years owning a home.
  1. If a home purchase will add a great deal of stress or pressure to your life, walk away.  Like I said in the last tip, you want to keep your hair. Stress is no good, even if the home is beautiful.  You can always start looking again down the road, and there are many reasons renting might be the smart move right now.  No house is worth your peace of mind.
  1. Houses with attractive sizzle features are cool, but first it must meet your basic needs.  Think first about what you need, then about what you would like to have. For example, heated bathroom tiles would be fantastic, but they would be meaningless if the home doesn’t have enough space for your family in the first place. Try to put the important things in proper perspective.
  1. Consider a house’s required snow removal in winter and yard maintenance throughout the year. Long driveways are great for kids, scooters and bikes, but they also require a shovel or snow blower during snowy winters. If you are reading in Florida, consider yourself lucky!

  1. Appliances can be replaced when necessary.  An old oven works fine until you can upgrade.  It may not be new, shiny and fancy, but it will often get the job done. Don’t let old appliances scare you away.
  1. How loud is traffic in the area?  Do buses, trucks or highways create constant noise?  We live near a small airport and it has never been a problem for us.  Someone else might find the occasional loud plane or helicopter to be a major nuisance. Judge for yourself.
  1. Decide beforehand if you really want a pool.  Above-ground pools can be removed for little or no money.  In-ground pools can be costly to fill.  Either way, just understand you’ll have choices if you want to add one or remove one once you own the home.
  1. Above ­ground pools can be added for less than $1000, in some cases.  My above-ground pool was less than $500!  On the other hand, more luxurious in-ground pools generally cost thousands of dollars.
  1. Consider if you are purchasing a home that fits well in its current neighborhood, or if it is well above the quality of the other homes in the area. Being head-and-shoulders above the rest can sometimes make it more difficult to recoup that value at resale.  In other words, your home will basically sell for the same general amount of money as other similar homes in the area have sold for.  Even if you’ve added many additional, high-priced upgrades. You might sell for more than that one did, but it may not be as much more as you’d hoped.
  1. A home purchase is a step­ by ­step process.  You should be comfortable every step of the way.  If you become uneasy, take a break or walk away. You can always re-start later.
  1. Your real estate agent works for you, and you should utilize their expertise.  They will get paid only when you make a purchase that meets your needs.  Demand complete honesty from your agent and all others who help you through the transaction.  After all, they want to make you happy so you send all of your friends their way.
  1. One of the most important things a home owner can do is take proper care of their septic system.  The last thing you want is to wake up to a smelly backup, which will drain your time, money and patience!  With many aspects of owning a home, proper, regular maintenance is the key.  Take care not to flush prohibited items down the toilet and into your septic system.  These items, such as non-approved baby wipes, diapers, thick toilet paper, toys, large amounts of grease, fabric and other items can cause a septic build up, and even a plumbing disaster.  And if you haven’t noticed, many of these items revolve around having children.  Talk to your local septic company to find out some additional items you should be wary of and steps you can take to keep your plumbing in proper working order.
  1. When you choose to paint a room pink, it will always be brighter on the wall than it looks on the paint sample. In other words, when you choose a light pink, it will probably look like Pepto Bismol on the wall.  So please test a small area of the wall before painting the entire room bright Pepto Bismol, only to have to re-paint it all over again another weekend.  I speak from personal experience.
  1. Your real estate agent, mortgage broker and attorney may give you items to complete during the home-buying process.  These items are important and will help the process move smoothly.  If I am working with a client who procrastinates in completing simple tasks, I know instantly that they are not serious about moving forward with a home purchase.
  1. If you are out looking at homes and accidentally hit your head on a rusty nail while searching through the attic, you may want to have an updated tetanus shot.  (Again, personal experience)

  1. Sharing one bathroom is sometimes difficult, but certainly doable.  Once you reach three or four members of your family, these difficulties will be exasperated to the point where you may need to find a solution. Until then, however, you can usually work through the one-bathroom dilemma.
  1. Functional windows are excellent, energy saving features.  You’ll find that many older homes have windows that have been dormant or repainted so many times that they don’t open or close easily, if at all. While new, vinyl windows can be a relatively pricey upgrade, they will more than make up for that with their ease of use and climate-control potential.
  1. Don’t purchase a home because all your friends say you should.  Pick the home that is right for you, when the time is right for you.  Every friend and family member will have an opinion, but the only one that counts is yours. And besides, you know what they say about opinions…..
  1. The best real estate agents want to do such a good job for you that you can’t help but tell everyone you know.  That is one of the not-so-kept secrets in the industry – your agent wants you to walk away from the purchase happy!  Many agents (the good ones) would walk barefoot across hot coals to get you what you want.  So when they do, spread the word.
  1. A home with a high radon level can often be addressed by an inspector.  Radon inspections are a routine part of a pre-purchase inspection protocol these days, and for good reason.  There are many places to learn about the dangers of radon, and your inspector can answer some of these questions as well. If you are concerned, ask. Conduct the tests. If you are still concerned, ask again or get multiple opinions.  Your real estate agent can refer you to a radon specialist.
  1. It only takes one perfect buyer for a home to sell.  A seller is hoping you will be that buyer.  The beauty of real estate is that it is a highly subjective industry. What looks great to you or me may not look good at all to someone else. One thing to consider when selling is that it only takes one. One buyer, with the means to purchase, who desires your home. Every time you tour a home for sale, the owner is hoping that YOU are that buyer. Consider yourself in the driver’s seat, because you are.
  1. Judging a house by the color of the walls is like picking an iPhone based on its ringtone.  It is simple to change both!  Wise choices in wall color can certainly improve a home’s appeal, but don’t ever pass up on a great home simply due to paint.  Paint color can always be changed, while other aspects of a home, such as location, layout and design cannot.
  1. When purchasing your first home, your real estate agent should act as a guide.  He should be very easy to communicate with, and always be responsive to your concerns.  If it is important to you, your agent should be able to put your mind at ease.
  1. Don’t get house fever.  There are houses on every street in every town.  At the end of the day, it’s just bricks and sticks, do don’t become so attached that you can’t think straight.  Even if you have to walk away from the house, things usually work out for the best in the end.

  1. For busy people, lawncare service can be a great investment.  Some services charge as little as $25 to mow and tidy up your yard.  That can be well worth the two hours it might take you, especially if you have young kids.  Unless you truly enjoy sweating on the mower, in which case mow on!
  1. Tipping your mail and newspaper carrier at Christmas is also a terrific investment, and a well-deserved thank you for what they do.  This will come in extremely handy when they have an especially big delivery for you, or when they take extra steps to protect your belongings from the elements. Your delivery team works hard and they deserve an occasional thanks.
  1. Think about your family five years from now, and try to purchase a home for THAT family.  This will help ensure you don’t grow out of your home in six months.  The average stay in a home is about seven years, so you can be relatively sure your first home will not be your last.
  1. The median home price in Dutchess County is about $246,000.  Meaning, half of the houses sell for more and half for less.  Keep up to date with figures in your neck of the woods.  This information can sometimes help you formulate your own personal value of a possible home.
  1. The average home buyer will stay in the home for seven years.  As mentioned above, this is a key factor to consider, especially when purchasing your FIRST home.  This time frame is most likely shorter for first-time buyers, who often grown out of a home more rapidly.  First time buyers cannot always foresee what the immediate future holds and they are much more prone to quicker moves.
  1. The median age for the first time home buyer in the U.S. is about 31 years old.  This number has remained relatively steady for decades, as it represents the sweet spot where finances, career and life stage often converge.  These factors often change concurrently – the entrance into the work force is followed by increased income and the ability to purchase a home.
  1. Keeping up a home can be a lot of fun, but it requires both money and time.  Have I mentioned that things go wrong when you own a home? Items and systems break down and need repair, which means you are either doing the work or paying someone to do it.  Or, thirdly, you will let it go, ultimately leading to a larger repair down the road.  Either way, home owners must always prepare for the unexpected.
  1. Great neighbors are truly a gift.  Try to meet them before making a purchase.  It is so true that the quality of your neighbors can make or break your enjoyment of a home.  You certainly don’t have to agree on everything, but a strong mutual respect will go a long way toward quelling uncomfortable situations before they arise.
  1. Online website are a great source of information and education before and during your house hunt with a professional real estate agent.  But remember, many online sites are not exactly accurate with their information.  Just the other day I explained to a seller why I would list his home for $20,000 less than what an online site indicated it was worth.  I provided data from real sales of comparable homes in his neighborhood, so my facts were solid.  These are the same facts an appraiser would eventually use to value his home if a mortgage were involved.  The point is, the analysis done by your trusted real estate professional will most likely be much more accurate than any online website.
  1. Location cannot be changed.  Layout, design and cosmetics can be.  We’ve all heard the cliché that the name of the game in real estate is “location, location, location.”  This is precisely because it is set in stone and cannot be changed.  Location is one of the few factors that can help you rule out homes before you even set foot inside.

  1. Pets add another dimension of needs to your house hunt, and we must factor in our requirements for that member of our family as well.   Some pets require space to let their energy out, while others can thrive nicely in a small apartment.
  1. Lyme Disease is rampant in the Dutchess County, caused by ticks that thrive in woods, brush and areas of high grass. Do whatever you can to protect your family from the debilitating symptoms and results of Lyme disease.  Keep in mind the maintenance of your yard that will be necessary to prevent ticks from thriving.  Lyme disease is a sinister foe, and prevention is the first step in protecting your family.
  1. Home security systems ­ in addition to dogs and firearms – can provide excellent peace of mind for some home owners. After installation, they can often be maintained for less than $30 per month.  Be sure to shop around for both local and national providers to see which option might be best for you.
  1. It is wise to sock away as much money as possible prior to purchasing a home.  Big purchases, or even medium-sized ones, can wait.  If a home purchase is your immediate goal, don’t let other purchases derail you.  If you are impulse into other expenditures that drain your down payment fund, perhaps you simply aren’t at the home-buying stage of your life.
  1. If you feel rushed into a home­buying decision, it usually isn’t the right choice.  You’ll usually be glad you slowed the process down, rather than making a rash decision.  In life, we often regret the chances we didn’t take.  Real estate, however, may be one area of life where these words of wisdom are turned on their head.
  1. Your first home should have a lot that you need and want, but it often won’t have everything on your list.  Keep in mind that your first home will, most likely, not be your last home.  You have plenty of time to upgrade to the granite countertops, in-ground pool or central air down the road.
  1. Buying a home with anyone other than a legal spouse often leads to trouble down the road.  What happens when you break up or part ways?  Are you prepared to still be “connected” via the house even if your relationship goes sour?  Think long and hard before buying a home with someone who is not your spouse.
  2. The appraisal is one of the most crucial points when buying a home.  After you and the seller agree on a selling price, the bank (if you are getting a mortgage) will send an appraiser to give an opinion of the home’s true fair market value.  If the appraiser says the home is worth LESS than you agreed to pay, the bank may not loan you as much as you expected.  This can sometimes be overcome but, in other cases, it can kill the transaction.
  1. There are many mortgage programs for all types of situations.  Your real estate agent does not have all the answers, but he can lead you to a professional who can present you with all of your options.  Mortgage rates are always adjusting and mortgage professionals stay on top of the very best choices for their clients.
  1. Once your offer has been accepted, try to keep your emotions in check until you complete the inspection.  As an agent, it is very disappointing to see a client’s hopes dashed when the inspection uncovers an unseen area of concern.  Only after a professional inspection will you, the buyer, have a more accurate picture of the true condition of the house.  You can often work through most issues brought to light by an inspection, but why get your hopes up before you really know for sure?  Try to keep the champagne corked, preferably, until after the closing.

  1. If there are items your inspector feels need to be addressed, don’t fear.  Perhaps you can fix these items once you purchase the home.  Or perhaps you can request the seller repair the items before the sale as part of the purchase contract.  You may be able to negotiate some of these improvements with the seller.  As we know, an inspection is often a starting point for further negotiations.
  1. If you feel you will be competing with multiple offers on a property you want to buy, you can always do something out of the box.  Do something unique to stand out. Why not catch the seller’s eye with a personal letter expressing how much you love the home and want to make it yours?  This is one of many tips a professional agent can suggest to help get your offer accepted.
  1. Your offer may not be accepted.  Be prepared for that, even though it’s not the result you are looking for.  You may receive a counter-offer, or you could get a phone call from your agent with an outright rejection.  These are a couple of the many responses you might get when your offer is not immediately accepted.
  1. Your friends will share great pictures of their new houses on Facebook.  But keep in mind – they won’t share the time the furnace went out at 2am, or the toilet overflowed and leaked into the family room.  These things happen to everyone but, like other areas of our lives, we’ll only see the sunshine and lollipops on social media.
  1. Your new house should be comfortable and make you proud from day one.  You can always upgrade things as you go, but don’t feel as though you have to do it all immediately.  Relax and don’t put pressure on yourself.  You’ll get to it when you get to it.  The point is, there will always be something more to do.
  1. Everyone will have an opinion about something that you must do to your house.  A lot of the advice and help is great.  But the key word is your.  Because it is yourhouse.  Unless they are paying the bills, their input is merely a suggestion.  Your opinion counts.
  1. Establish relationships with your neighbors.  Get to know them and help them out whenever possible.  There will come a day when you can comfortably ask them for help too. You’ll need a rare tool and they’ll be happy to help you out.  And as much as anything, that friendship will be a great source of enjoyment in your new home.
  1. Always check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly.  Install at least one per floor and always in or just outside bedrooms.  Check with your real estate agent or inspector as you tour homes, to make sure the property has the required number of detectors for a sale in your state.  Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are two of the least expensive yet most important precautions you can take in your new home.
  1. When looking at houses, take good notes on the listing sheet.  That way you can refer back to what you liked or didn’t.  It can be very difficult to remember important details of each home if you just spent a few hours touring houses.  By taking detailed notes, you will have a much easier time recalling the factors about the home that resonated with you in the moment.
  1. Surround yourself with honest professionals who know more than you do.  And as a first-time buyer, most of those around you will know a good deal more than you do.  Take advantage and use their expertise, knowledge and connections to the fullest.  After all, that is exactly why you are using them.  Don’t feel as though you are imposing…..because you are not.  Make the most of it!

  1. Keep the home­buying process enjoyable!  You have worked hard to be in a strong, solid home-buying position.  This should be a happy time in your life, one you’ll always remember.  Most home owners can still remember what it felt like the first time they walking through the house that eventually became their first home.  Prepare yourself, trust your professional team and, above all, have fun in your new home!

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