Financing-home loans, Real Estate, The Market

First-Time Homebuyers

A bedroom in an AIMCO apartment home
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Quoted from:

Focus on First Time Homebuyers by Tim McLaughlin

There has been a dramatic shift occurring in the housing sector. According to Realty Times, of the 8.4 million people who have purchased a home in the last two years, 41 percent of them have been first time buyers. This number is up from 35 percent in 2007, and experts believe this growing demographic will influence the home-style landscape in the years to come for first time purchasers.

Today’s first time homebuyers have as much desire to establish household independence as their parents did, but the economic environment has impacted their preferences to some degree. This demographic is much more aware of both how much home they need and what they can afford. But they also have specific preferences in layout, efficiency and neighborhood type according to recent statistics.

On average, over the past few years, first time buyers are buying smaller, lower priced houses than trade up buyers are, the majority buying homes with avg. square feet under 2,500. This buying preference is partially affected by the economy and by maintenance costs, according to Realty Times.

In addition, first time homebuyers seem to have a different mindset regarding a home purchase. They look at the transaction as securing a place to live in first and foremost. While they have less to spend, they want the space they can afford put to the most effective use. This means that the practical spaces they will use every day, like kitchens, laundry rooms and the master bedroom, are their key focus. They appreciate open spaces that can be defined by furniture rather than walls and hallways. Additionally, home location appears to be important to these buyers, who have a keen interest in transit oriented communities. This makes urban areas highly appealing, as well as suburban areas with walk able town centers.

Of biggest concern to this subset appears to be financing questions: qualifications, the right loan structure with the least amount of money down, and understanding an approval process that is much more cumbersome than what their parents had to deal with.

This market is a tough one to navigate…we have very low inventory because of sellers still waiting for appreciation before they will list, but plenty of buyers out looking to take advantage of the great interest rates and loan programs to get into their first home or move up into their “forever home”.  In this environment, it is so important to have a Realtor you trust to help you navigate the offer process as well as all of the steps between the contract signing and settlement.  Between the appraisal, the home inspection, rent-backs and more…it is important to choose someone you like and trust and who keeps current on laws, best practices and the market pulse to guide you through the process (regardless of how many times you have bought and/or sold a home).

Decorating, House and Home, Real Estate, Tips and Tricks

To decorate or not decorate…while your home is on the market

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...
Image via Wikipedia

Many families start decorating for the holidays during the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. Sellers with their home on the market during the holiday season shouldn’t feel the need to give up their holiday traditions. In fact, sellers should not forgo decorating their home for the holiday. People expect at least some decorations, plus they add warmth to a home.

The key is to decorate in a way that won’t turn off buyers, and the following tips will help sellers strike a good balance:

  • Too many decorations mask a home’s selling points: architectural details, condition, location and price.
  • Avoid too many personalized decorations. The goal is for buyers to visualize themselves celebrating the holidays in the home.
  • Choose an elegant, neutral palette of fresh greens, silvers, golds and classic whites. Avoid too much red and green.
  • Take down decorations within two weeks after the holidays.
    Happy Holidays!


Real Estate

Finding the perfect home

Many clients ask me how long the “typical” buyer takes to find a home.  My answer to this question is it all depends!  Time frame is a huge factor….if you need something quickly, many buyers are much more able to make a quick decision and also to compromise on things that they would like to have in a home.  If you have tons of time…I find that the home buying process expands to meet the amount of time you have.  In other words…if you would like to find a home within a year…it is likely that they will take close to that much time to find a home.

Some people always feel like something better will come along and they have trouble “pulling the trigger” because what if the “perfect” house comes on right after you buy a house.  My answer to that is that there is no such thing as the “perfect” house…unless you build it yourself (and then you will still find something wrong with it at some point).  There will always be something you would change about the house or that you wish was different.  Even if a “better” home comes on the market after, it doesn’t mean that the home you chose was a bad decision nor does it mean that a better one than the better one will not come along…if you play that game, you will never find a house.  For example, in my own home…I would love to change our kitchen, it is slightly outdated.  I also painted all of the walls when we moved it because I hated the colors.  These are things that can be changed though and one day I will get a new kitchen :).  What I loved about the house is that it is spacious, full of light, in a fabulous community and has a two car garage…these are among the reasons why we chose it and among the top of our criteria list.

Just remember, looking and getting frustrated is part of the process.  You may even have to lose the first house you decide you like to another buyer who bids higher…that happens sometimes…but if it does happen, rest assured, you will find a home you love again.  Just remember…it will never be perfect, but if it has the most important criteria then don’t write it off because it doesn’t have a hall closet or something minute like that.

Another thing you may find is that the price range you thought would get you what you are looking for actually will not and you may either need to adjust your expectations or adjust your price range.  Sometimes only a little extra money will broaden your pool of homes quite a bit.  And typically every additional $10000 adds another $70 or so dollars to your monthly payment, so it isn’t that big of a stretch.

Flexibility is key, but that doesn’t mean you need to “settle”, it just means that you need to adjust to what is available and find something with as many of the features you are looking for as possible…also prioritize those features so that you know what you absolutely need and what you would like but can live without.  Sometimes you will not be able to do this until you have seen a few though, so it is ok to look at what is available and then re-group and adjust based on what you see.

Don’t lose heart buyers, the right house is out there…it may take you 1 week, or it may take you 1 year…be patient and flexible and it will come.