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By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

Surprising Insider Secrets for the 5 Stages of Buying Your First Home

Buying a home is not a discrete event; it's a process - a sequence of events that happens over time, sometimes over as long as several months or even years!  While general guides to buying a home are a dime a dozen, I'm excited to share with you some insider secrets you may not have heard elsewhere - one for each stage involved in buying a home. Here's to helping you make the best decisions at every phase of your homebuying process!

Stage One: Deciding Whether It's The Right Time to Buy. 
Insider Secret: The market is the least important factor you should consider when deciding whether and when to buy a home.
Why: Everyone knows affordability is at an all-time high.  Home prices are low, and so are interest rates. But trying to time the market is a fool's errand; many who get caught up in that game of trying to make sure they buy at the absolute bottom will end up losing out on very, very favorable conditions.

Beyond that, the most important considerations when deciding whether and when you should buy a home are personal, not market driven. On today's market, it only makes sense to buy a place if it's going to be sustainable and work for you for at least the next 4-5 years [if your town's real estate market has been fairly recession-proof] or 7-10 years [if the housing/foreclosure crisis has hit your area pretty hard].

Against this "smart holding period" backdrop, smart buyers decide to buy when it makes sense for:
  • their life plans (i.e., they are comfortable making the commitment to live in the same town, and the commitment to )
  • their family plans (i.e., whether they plan to get married, have children or empty their nest in the time they plan to own the home - and the implications of these plans on their space needs and location priorities)
  • their career plans (including, but not limited to: whether they have job or income security, whether they feel they will be working in the same area for the foreseeable future, and whether they want to work less or start their own business in the months or years to come)
  • their financial plans (including foreseeable changes in income and expenses, e.g., kids going to college or making partner at the firm).

Stage Two: Getting Pre-Approved.
Insider Secret: Working with a mortgage broker referred by your real estate broker or agent may save you money.
Why: Bolstered by the real-life stories of a couple of bad apples, TV pundits and some consumer advocates have spun the tale of a real estate industry cartel, whereby sinister agents hook unsuspecting buyers up with shady mortgage brokers, who place them in crappy loans and kick back some bucks to the agent. I'm here to tell you, in my experience, the opposite is true the vast majority of the time. 

When you work with a mortgage broker who has a strong track record of helping your real estate agent's clients out, you end up in a best of all worlds situation, nine times out of ten. First off, your agent will take you much more seriously once a mortgage broker they know and trust has run your credit, checked your income and approved you for a loan, as well as communicated with your real estate pro about your qualifications and what you can afford.  Secondly, your agent can help you communicate with your mortgage broker, sometimes helping get past appraisal glitches or facilitating other workarounds, as they come up. Third, you get the assurance of working with a mortgage pro who has been vetted and vouched for by someone you not only trust, but someone who can verify that the mortgage broker has the ability to get transactions closed in the timely manner required of today's real estate sales contract.  Otherwise, you may end up working with a competent mortgage broker who has a great track record when it comes to refinancing, but can't keep up with the pace and common obstacles to getting a home financed in the context of a sale.

On top of that, sometimes the relationship can help you negotiate out of a couple of line item loan fees (if your particular mortgage rep has the power to get them down at all), if push comes to shove and cash is tight to close the deal.  Assuming you are working with a real estate pro you really trust, working with a mortgage broker they trust can save you, rather than cost you, money.

Stage Three: House Hunting
Insider Secret: "Distressed" doesn't always equal "discounted" - in some cases, a "regular" sale can be a deeper deal.
Why: Short sales and foreclosures have grown to comprise roughly 30 percent of the homes sold on today's market, even higher in some areas. The average sale price of foreclosed homes was 32% lower than the average sale price of non-foreclosed homes, at last count. However, it's not always the case that foreclosed homes or short sales - homes which are being sold for less than what the seller owes on their mortgage(s) - offer the buyer a fabulous discount. 

Mortgage servicers and asset managers who make decisions about distressed properties are on the hook to their investors to recoup as close as possible to the current fair market value of every home they sell. Some banks even have a general rule of rejecting offers more than 10 percent or so below the home's list price, preferring instead to reduce the price by that amount and put the home back on the open market to see if any new buyers are activated by the price reduction to make an offer better than the lowball offer that was initially put on the table.  On short sales, the bank is trying to get as close as possible to recovering what the seller owes - and may or may not be concerned with what the fair market value of the home is. (Nine times out of ten, there will be a big gap between fair market value and the seller's outstanding mortgage balance. If there wasn't, the seller wouldn't need to do a short sale!)

With so many distressed properties and homes with depressed values on the market, in many areas, the individual, non-distressed home sellers who are putting their homes up for sale right now are those who are very motivated to sell. Further, they are more likely to be flexible with you on everything that is negotiable, from contingency and escrow periods, to price, to repairs and included items.

Also, individual sellers can be emotionally motivated to sell to move on with their lives, get into their bigger (or smaller) house, or move on to their next job; banks, on the other hand, aren't people (!), so lack that emotional sense of urgency to get the properties sold, no matter how urgently you may think they should be trying to get rid of the foreclosed properties they own. (If you've heard the old advice that banks don't want to be in the home-owning business, I can tell you this. That is true, in a very general sense, but now they are and will be - for a long time to come. They have no emotions, have no urgent need to sell or move, and are not willing to give houses away at pennies on the dollar to get out of it, no matter what those infomercial folks say.) 

Long story short: you can sometimes negotiate a better deal with an individual seller on a "regular" sale than with a bank on a distressed home sale. So, don't limit your house hunt to foreclosures and short sales, if you're looking for a good deal on your home.

Stage Four: Negotiations
Insider Secret: Your family and friends can cause you to lose your dream home.
Why: With so much information on the web and the news every day about the recession and the buyer's market, everyone seems to be an armchair economist/real estate savant.  But much of that news is national and based on medians, averages and trends.  That is, it might not necessarily apply to every home on the market in every city, and more importantly, it might have nothing to do with "your" particular home.

When I was a little girl, my best friend's grandfather would very carefully hand each of us a quarter, always doling it out with the sage admonition: "Don't spend it all in one place." We'd always smile, look at each other, then go ask our Moms for ten bucks apiece.  In the same vein, people who are not currently in the market for a home have no idea what an individual home should "go for." If you tell your parents, church pals, or colleagues at work the blow-by-blow details of your offer, counteroffers, etc., you should expect to hear things like, "Oh, you're paying way too much!", "I think you should push them down another $10K," or "You know, you're in a better bargaining position than that." And sometimes, taking that sort of advice will end up blowing your deal.  Work with your trusty real estate broker or agent to develop a smart strategy - with their experience in your local market - about what price and terms to offer.  Then keep working with them to manage and maintain realistic expectations as you proceed through negotiating the contract to buy your home.

Stage Five: Escrow, Inspections and Underwriting
Insider Secret: It's critical that you attend your home inspections.
Why: When it comes to inspections, many first-time buyers expect that a home will either pass or fail.  Except in a few jurisdictions where the government imposes certain condition requirements for a home to be sold, the home inspection is more about educating you, the buyer, as to the details and nuances of the home's condition than about seeing if the place hits a particular target for "good" or "bad" condition. 

Home inspectors don't just look for things that need fixing, they also look to understand the home's systems and features, as well as to point out areas that will require your ongoing maintenance, highlight emergency shutoffs and other need-to-knows, and indicating where you should have specialists further inspect items of concern. Many home inspectors create vivid, detailed electronic reports - some, complete with color photos. But that's not enough!

If you're physically onsite at the home during the inspections, the inspector can physically show you the shutoffs for water, gas and electric - and how to use them.  They can also point out, in person, any things that need repair, and give you some tips for maintaining the place in tip-top shape.  Also, in many states, the general home inspector is legally prohibited (vs. the pest, roof or other "specialty" inspectors) from issuing a written quote or bid for repairs, to avoid a conflict of interest where they'd try to fabricate flaws in the home to get the repair job. However, the repair costs are one of the most important things a smart buyer wants to know!

If you show up, many inspectors will give you a rough range it would cost you to do various repairs, or otherwise indicate to you whether the needed repairs are "big deal" or "$10 home improvement store" fixes; some will even give you a few references to contractors they trust. 

All around, you'll get much more of the detailed information you need to know whether and how to move forward with the transaction if you should up in person to the home inspections, rather than just waiting for a copy of the report to come to your email.

P.S. -  You still have (a little) time to enter to win a $250 gift card by answering this question on Facebook: What's your American Dream?

P. P.S. - You should follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook, too!


By Mark LeMenager,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 04:49
Some very good advice for first timers.
By Allan Erps,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:03
Great stuff as usual Tara!
By Phil Rotondo,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:08
Thanks for the great info.
By Chris Adams,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:23
Very well written, great information!
By Joseph Schutz, GRI, SFR, CDPE,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:29
By Sharon Avram & Karen Abramson,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:29
Excellent blog and very informative for first time buyers but also for step up/down buyers as well!

Karen Abramson
By Johanna Knight,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:29
wonderful post with great information for first timers, however there is information for those moving up as well. The questions always remain the same. Thank you Tara ..
By Katie Richard,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:30
Great article. Important points for 1st time buyers to remember!
By Carol Thomson,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:41
Very well writen and matter of fact.
By Peter C. Fyler, CRS,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:43
Tara, overall I think you made some very good points for anyone buying a home today. Sadly, the buying public are -- I guess by human nature, like lemmings and that is why they are always late to the dance at either the top or the bottom of the market. I try to tell my buyers but 95% of them don't get it.

I have had experience with the armchair economist/real estate savant anecdote and it can be very frustrating, even infuriating. Everyone’s a maven, but the broker.

I agree that it is paramount for the buyer to be present at the home inspection because this will be the best opportunity for them to learn the most about their home all at one time. However, I do want to suggest that the buyer wait until the inspector is finished with his inspection and then go through the home with the inspector as he refers to his notes while he educates the buyer on the salient points of his inspection.

When an inspector is distracted by a lot of questions during his inspection he is apt to miss some things and you might not get as good an inspection. On Martha’s Vineyard it is not always possible for a buyer to be present at an inspection, I will have the inspector go back to the property when the buyer arrives for the walk-thru on the day of closing and they can thoroughly review the inspection report. I am always present throughout the entire inspection as the buyer’s eyes and ears.

I want to emphasize that a home inspection is not an excuse to renegotiate the purchase, it is meant to give the buyer a clear picture of the condition of the home they are purchasing and educate them on the workings of that home. If they don’t like the findings in the report they have the option to terminate the purchase contract and look for another home to buy.
By Patti Olivas,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:44
super article-I posted on FB so more can read it
By Michael Adams,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 05:46
Excellent points that compliment a Blog post for sellers that I published yesterday. And I agree with others, it is great advice for any buyer!
By Linda Jandura,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 06:01
Excellent points, especially about your family and friends losing you the house you love. They feel their job is to find fault with it.
By Daniel Cullen,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 06:06
Great article Tara. Lots of good info for 1st timers. I disagree with some of your market timing advice, to wit:

Everyone knows affordability is at an all-time high. Home prices are low, and so are interest rates. But trying to time the market is a fool's errand; many who get caught up in that game of trying to make sure they buy at the absolute bottom will end up losing out on very, very favorable conditions.

Me again: What about folks who bought at the peak and are now deeply under water...would they have been on a 'fool's errand' if they had listened to the few voices of reason who were warning about the coming collapse? How can you so blithely recommend that buyers NOT take market conditions into account when considering a purchase? You know that Case-Shiller is predicting a further drop in market values. Do you tell your clients about that when you're out on showings? This mindless cheerleading that pushes buyers into purchasing homes is part of the problem that led to the mess we're in now. Don't you feel any responsibility to balance your advice to your clients with a dose of caution? You must have a slew of previous clients who are now foreclosed, under water, behind on their mortgage, etc. Don't you feel any responsibility for their predicament and a corresponding responsibility to keep future clients from getting into housing trouble? Do you ever tell your clients, "Maybe it's a good time for you to rent for a few years."?

One of the responders to your post said this:

I want to emphasize that a home inspection is not an excuse to renegotiate the purchase, it is meant to give the buyer a clear picture of the condition of the home they are purchasing and educate them on the workings of that home. If they don’t like the findings in the report they have the option to terminate the purchase contract and look for another home to buy.

Me again: Well, maybe that's your opinion of the purpose of a home inspection but it's only partially true. If you were buying a car and you took it to your mechanic for a once-over; and if the mechanic found that the exhaust system was ready to rust-through and that the water pump needed to be replaced well, wouldn't you renegotiate your offer to purchase? You can emphasize anything you want but my clients almost always renegotiate after I have provided them with new information about their prospective purchase and THAT IS THEIR RIGHT no matter what you claim about the purpose of a home inspection. New information gives the buyer the moral authority and, in most contracts, the legal authority to ask for a cash credit at closing, a reduction in sales price, or that certain repairs be made pursuant to an inspection.

I empathize with the difficult times that real estate agents are going through. We all bear a responsibility to be honest with the home buying public regardless of how our bread is buttered. You may only owe a fiduciary obligation to your home seller but if you have a heart and soul you won't be one of the lying bobble heads that I as a home inspector run into every day during inspections.
By Qing Hui Wang(Emily) Realtor,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 06:13

Great blog with thorough contents. I will share with my clients and facebook friends.
By Kaye Norenberg,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 06:16
Thanks Tara!
By Tianna Woods, REALTOR,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 06:25
Great, sound advice for first-time buyers!
By Jaimee Brosko-Smith,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 06:28
Great information, very well written
By F Dale Odim,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 06:33
Thanks Tara! Based on a recent experience, I'd say someone who previously bought new construction who is now buying a resale property for the first time should be treated as a first-time home buyer.
By Anthony Stokes Pereira REALTOR,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 06:35
Great information I thank you for sharing.
By Felipe Conill,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 06:43
By Eddie Collazo,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 06:48
thank you for the info! i will forward it to my buyers. well said..
By Joe Flores,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 07:02
Great advise for everyone buying but stage one is a critical step.
By George Walsh,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 07:05
Wow that's a lot of good information and advice Tara. I hope buyers take the time to read it. You could probably split this into 3 or 4 posts or more on different aspects. Very good comments on the foreclosures. In my area however they are far less than 30% of the market. They are a factor in some pockets, but are usually not dominating the market. Buyers really need to beware of rising interest rates which will ccause their buying power to be reduced more quickly and in a great amount than they may be able to negotiate a lower purchase price.
By Hal Hovey,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 07:20
Another great article I plan to share with all my buyers. Thanks again!
By Carolyn Sims,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 07:22
Thank you for continuing to educate the market about foreclosures. Many clients think they are getting a deal only to get frustrated during the process and to find out that the deal was not so good after they close. I warn my clients, but too much of the media is out there telling people to buy foreclosures. They can be a good deal, but they take much more investigation, lots of patience, and sometimes deep pockets.
By Jim Gilmartin,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 07:25
Great advise for buyers. thank you!
By Ann Matteson,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 07:27
Excellent advice! I am passing it on to all my first timers!
By Blake Smereczynsky,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 07:35
Good advice for first time home buyers! This will lead to many sucessful transactions if these steps are followed.

Blake Smereczynsky
By Deby Rourke,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 07:35
Thanks Tara, this is a very informative article that I will share on facebook!
By George Askew,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 07:39
Excellent advice for the first time buyer!
By Drew Dahl,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 07:54
Thank you for raising the bar of professionalism. Information is a powerful tool.
By Melissa McDonald Press,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 08:00
This is excellent advice for everyone. Especially important, we all need to shift our mindset and set higher standards for success.
By Lori Lahaye,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 08:01
Thank you for the information Tara! You have summed things up quite well.
By Denise Christofferson,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 08:02
Excellent information. I will be sure to share this post with my buyers. Thanks!
By Bonnie Michal,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 08:40
Thanks Tara, I will share with my buyuers!
By Gary Steven,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 08:55
U couldn,t have explained it any better!!
By Wes Black,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 09:24
Great overview. I am sure your knowledge impresses your clients and your fans. Thank you.
By Aimee Montes,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 09:32
Great post! Hope the buyers read it. One agent told me she canceled a listing due to an informant/advisor (sellers friend).
Too much input...
By Ardelle Wachter,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 09:46
Excellent Information
By Earl Satahoo,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 10:19
Great job Tara-as usual and useful input by Peter C. Fyler, CRS especially about the timing of questions to the Inspector.
By Jana Walchle,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 10:26
Oh! I liked this article! So right on girl...!
By Kenny Anderson,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 11:32
Great info! Thanks!
By Tania,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 11:49
I have to agree with Dan Cullen, poster above on all his points. And I will add another: it is important to get advice from a mortgage broker but there are real cons to getting advice from your realtor's mortgage broker - namely that it will all be in the service of turning around another sale ASAP and not in the service of the buyer. Interivew all your professionals and make sure each knows they work for you. Not your realtor. Its just good business sense. You have to control your own purchase.
By Kristie Blankenhorn,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 12:12
What great information! I have recently been involved with buyers who feel compelled to discuss their deal with everyone they know- even friends living thousands of miles away in completely different markets! No one is short of an opinion...which keeps my buyer second guessing themsevles and me! Your observations are dead on! It is a challenging climate for so many reasons!
By Dennis Helmstetter,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 12:27
Perfect "other expert" advice for all my lookers - thanks
By Ann Stefanucci,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 12:43
Good information. I like to take my clients through the "process" as well and find that this helps prepare them for any obstacles down the road. Thanks.
By Barb Riley,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 13:05
Thanks SO MUCH for that article as it was written concisely on many topics. I shared it with one of the three lenders I recommend - and she is posting it for other Realtors to read and use with their clients. Tania and Dan - in over 32 years as a Realtor there are very, very few (if any) Realtors who could be described as "lying bobbleheads". We are here to serve, not taken advantage of, the public. Our code of ethics from the National Association of Realtors is superior and our licensing and enforcement processes on our State levels are second to none. By contrast, I know of no licensing and enforcement (at least in Colorado) for property inspectors.
By Cynthia Harkey,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 13:08
Great article. I also think that it is very important to have great relationships with any vendor you recommend to your clients, either mortgage broker, home inspector, escrow officer etc. it is very important that you and your client have confidence in the professionals you recommend to them this is important and can eliminate alot of unnecessary stress for all parties involved.
By D. Mathews,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 13:34
Great Post Tara,

I believe that this year will be the turning point for the housing market overall. The uncertainty that lies ahead may just make those who are still on the fence, the Savvy Smart One's!
By Jaime Stenwick,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 13:47
Wonderful article! I particularly appreciated the part about negotiations. With all of the information available on the Internet these days, everyone thinks they're an expert. These self-proclaimed "experts" can do more harm than good. It's best to find a broker you can trust and then listen to them. They know the market better than Aunt Sue.
By MARGIE KANDEFER,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 14:32
Margie kandefer -Thank you -great article -Keeps all well informed -knowledge is power !
By MARGIE KANDEFER,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 14:34
Margie kandefer -Thank you -great article -Keeps all well informed -knowledge is power !
By FHA Buyer,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 15:10
As a first time home buyer, I am thankful for people like you that take the time to write blogs like this. They are very informative and very helpful. Thank you Tara!
By Aaron Schreiner,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 15:34
Great points! For repair quotes, many of my clients will take my inspection report to a licensed contractor for bids. Our reports are great tools for many aspects of the home buying process.
By Priscilla Madan,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 19:50
Great article! If you're a first time buyer or haven't purchased in awhile in Southeastern MA then click on this website http://www.PriscillaMadan.com and I'll be happy to help you with your purchase! I also have connections to some great mortgage brokers and a list of Home Inspectors in this area. When you work with experienced agents and vendors your real estate experience will always be positive!
By Richard Miguel,  Thu Feb 17 2011, 20:56
Great insights Tara! I also posted it on my facebook page. Great Job.
By Chris Glahn,  Fri Feb 18 2011, 05:04
excellent post Tara, with many points that buyers need to pay special attention to on all phases of buying a home!
By Carmen Di Biase, GRI,  Fri Feb 18 2011, 06:42
Clear and concise, as usual. I especially appreciated the section on friends and family. All too often it is their voices that are heard, not ours.
By Angie Baker,  Fri Feb 18 2011, 07:19
Just some good information!! Let Professionals help you get the information you know you need and alot more that you did'nt know you needed!!
By Krista Abshure,  Fri Feb 18 2011, 08:23
Great article! I think it should be handed out to every home buyer in my market. It shares an insider veiw but also allows them to not feel like they are being preached at. Thanks so much!
By Donna Asaro,  Fri Feb 18 2011, 11:14
Excellent article Tara. Some really great points.
By Curious Person,  Fri Feb 18 2011, 14:29
Sellers that unfortunately have been snagged by the past slump in the market have seen the value of their property shrink dramatically. Those sellers have had to weather the drop in interest rates and the market forces, and it has been difficult to pursue a strategy.

While we are in the business of warning buyers of the pitfalls of home purchases, should they jump in without careful planning and the like, I somewhat feel that we are spending too much time babysitting the buyers in lieu of assisting the sellers in this highly volatile market of repos and the like.

For years, I have kept an open mind on this subject, only to finally realize, as I strongly suspected in the beginning that the market has its own methods for correction in general. Yes there are some forces being exerted to extract a profit from speculators, but on the whole it is the small buyer that will eventually make the difference in the sales by volume.

Along the way, I have been increasingly aware of how potential buyers have been warned that home prices will be falling further, so they should put off buying until the picture clears. This is supported by my many questions to potential buyers. I was severely taken back by this attitude.

In the meanwhile, I have had the personal experience of actually witnessing some of my fellow men not only losing their erstwhile incomes, but in fact losing their homes in the process. And all the while this was happening, the NAR was singing the same song over and over.

Maybe we learned from this, and maybe we did not. Time will tell and in time we will all look back, as we should and correct some of these mistakes and hopefully things will not repeat.
By Bonnie,  Fri Feb 18 2011, 21:23
Great article. Family and friends do sway buyers and it's a shame. Buyers should trust their gut. They are the ones who have seen the place and they are the ones who are going to live there. It is such a subjective decision. It should be made by the buyers alone, with the help of a good realtor.
By Jeff Hoffman,  Sat Feb 19 2011, 05:56
Nicely written and right on point for today's home buyer.
By n/a,  Sun Feb 20 2011, 14:28
Great post, filled with excellent information for today's buyers. Thanks for sharing!
By The Mills Team,  Sun Feb 20 2011, 16:25
"Insider Secret: Your family and friends can cause you to lose your dream home." So true! Relatives and friends can talk you right out of buying the home that otherwise be perfect for you.
By Maria Acosta,  Sun Feb 20 2011, 21:22
Great info that we as agents can share with our clients. Especially appreciate the tips under 'House Hunting'. Thanks!
By Aiza@mobilehomes,  Mon Feb 21 2011, 06:04
great post! this is very informative.Home Improvement
By Walt Danley- Broker,  Mon Feb 21 2011, 08:11
I wanted to get delicious cake, I have to learn who made Banh.Va'll have to pour a lot of effort to learn, USA will help the many who made the cake tuyet voi,
By Mark Finchem, Associate Broker,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 06:00
Good consumer educational content. And yes, sometimes family can be so helpful they cause paralysis even in the face of a professional who is in the field daily.
By Mary Ingalls,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 06:03
Great post for not only first time buyers but ALL buyers.....
By Cindy Lee Harper, ABR,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 06:04
great article. Posted on Facebook for all my friends, family and buyers to read. love the comment on the distress properties are not always the discount! I agree! thank you again for another great article. clh
By Jeffrey Bastress,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 06:05
To the point. Can I use this info?
By Mary Seidel,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 06:07
Excellent advice. I am going to incorporate this into my existing Buyer's Presentation.
By Dennish643,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 06:18
Very good information-well written.
Dennis Handa
By Sonda Hilario,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 06:19
Great info as usual Tara. We will be inserting this into our current Buyer's representation information.
By John Crowe,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 06:40
Very good, especially the first stage with four plans. I'm going to borrow that language.
By Nicholas Giesinger,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 06:48
Great content!
By Mitch Larrivee,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 07:13
Thank You!!!
By Mike Seebinger,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 07:25
Great information. Thanks!
By Peter Silvester,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 07:39
Great info! I'll be sharing with credit to you. Thank you.
By Lorraine Nelson,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 07:43
Valuable information for first-timers! Especially about the home inspector and his role.
By Kenneth Enochs Jr,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 07:47
This is a wonderful synopsis. It is a process and every buyer is unique.
By Tanya Starcevich,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 07:51
I have all of these issues with my first time home buyers!
By John Smith,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 07:57
Outstanding information!
By The Cascade Team Real Estate,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 08:00
Great article!
By Piro A. Poloska ABR,SFR, SRES 727-410-2801,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 08:19
Great Guide on the Home Purchasing!
By Valerie Baker,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 08:24
Great information for first-time or any homebuyers!
By Jeff Nunley, CMPS,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 08:29
These are some great tips.
By EXIT Realty JP Rothermel,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 08:31
Great information for First Time Home Buyers. Thank you Tara

Judy Rothermel
Broker of Record
EXIT Realty JP Rothermel
609 714 EXIT(3948)
By Terry And Claudia Streckfuss,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 08:53
Great Information I have it on my facebook page for all to see
Terry and Claudia Streckfuss
Re/max Gold
By Laura Brune,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 08:55
Thanks for the constructive walk-through advice for first-time homebuyers. I especially liked your explanation of the purpose of an inspection and how crucial it is for the potential buyer to be present at their inspection. The inspectors I use are always helpful to my clients in educating them on their prospective new home's mechanicals, etc. and I know they appreciate all their advice and explanations. Go Inspectors!
By David Akram,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 09:10
Excellent article for first time buyers. Lots of good information.
By Brandi Orlando,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 09:14
Great advice Tara, I especially liked the short-sale and foreclosure paragraph, buyers need to be informed that they can get great deals from individual sellers who just want to sell. Some buyers have just heard that short-sales and foreclosures are "the best deal" and don't want to look at other options that might wind up being a better choice for them.
By Mary Crabtree,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 09:16
Great advise Tara, reiterates so many things. I especially like where you encourage them to work with a mortgage broker to get preapproved. So many first time home buyers are clueless when it comes to this.
By Julia Evinger,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 09:22
Very well written article. It's the same advice I give my clients. Thank you!
By Voices Member,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 11:24
I agree with the masses that there is some really good information provided here. Thanks for posting it!
By Danielle Lazier,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 12:18
Nice post, Tara. I plan to repost on my blog to help potential 1st time buyers get a general sense of what's to expect. I find that future-pacing the process makes for a smoother, more enjoyable home purchase for clients.
By Jerry Wettstone,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 12:40
Tara, I join the others in saying that this was a well-done blog on a topic of importance with one exception. You never referenced the importance of the first-time buyers having the benefit of a knowledgeable Buyer Agent to help guide them. It could have been included in the "House Hunting" paragraph or the "Negotiating" paragraph. Is everyone assuming the first time buyers would have one? I didn't see one comment on this point and yet people are posting this on their personal sites.
By Arline Lane,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 13:00
Excellent information, Tara. I like to use the analogy of generals and soldiers in the field when my buyers or sellers tell me the opinions of their friends and relatives. I say that sometimes there's a huge disconnect between the generals who are theorizing in their offices and the soldiers fighting on the front lines. Real estate agents, like soldiers, are on the front lines every day and they have firsthand knowledge of the market. Also, don't forget to remind young buyers that the last time their parents purchased a home may have been 20, 30 or more years ago so of course today's prices seem outrageous to them! Finally, remind your buyers that they are the ones who will live in the home they are buying so it has to be right for them and meet their needs not those of the givers of advice.
By Kyra Quarles,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 13:11
Great article Tara! One I will be sharing with clients and on Facebook.
By Nancy Jackson,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 13:18
I particularly liked the part about negotiations. It is very hard on Buyers during negotiations when a family member offers hard core advice and this advice is usually based on one home purchased who-knows-where and no telling how many years ago. This confuses Buyers as well as the article says, "Could cause them to lose their Dream Home" !! I also posted this article on Facebook.
By Donna Quimby,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 14:05
Good article. I particularly liked your explanations on how people lose out on buying a home when they try to 'time the market' and/or by putting too much emphasis on the home valuation ideas of their very well meaning family and friends who are not involved in real estate day in and day out. Thanks
By Robyn Link,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 15:07
Great stuff Tara!
By Tamara Schuster Broker, Agent,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 16:24
Great informative article. Very helpful information on short sales and foreclosures and why can get a better deal right now from a motivated home owner. There can be many obstacles to overcome when purchasing a distressed property if you are not ready for them.
By Ed Schumacher,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 18:01
The article and the comments are all educational. Thank you one and all. They lead me to another thought; I found as a first-time home buyer that a list of the roles of all the persons who participate in the buying... not just realtor, seller, buyer, and lender, is very helpful, clarifying, and humanizing for the home purchase process.

Another learning tool is a one-pager that uses plain English to define each type of the dozen or so fees involved in a home purchase, e.g. processing fee, underwriting fee,document preparation fee; discount "points" v. loan origination fee "points."

These two tools create win/wins for all the home purchase stakeholders, don't you think?
By Grover Barbaran,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 18:54
Great Information as always!
By Rose Essy Group,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 19:12
Thanks Tara, Your very dedicated, I look forward to your insight.
By David Doherty,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 20:25
Tara, why are you so popular???
By Kaira West,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 20:28
This article is very comprehensive, and I will definitely share it with my clients. Thanks so much for posting!
By Samantha Lees,  Tue Feb 22 2011, 22:25
Thanks for the info..I will pass it along to my first timers!
By Voices Member,  Wed Feb 23 2011, 02:59
Tara, I enjoyed your post. There are conflicing comments about receiving advise from friends and family, co-workers, etc. To that I advise my buyer clients in the same manner my husband handled the soccer mom, little-league parents, who complained about playing time for their child or tried to insert themselves as a coach adviser. To them he said, I'll listen to you after you come toand watch 5 practices and every game. You will then be a better judge of what works. So, if my clients want advise from others, I invite them to join the showings and caravan with the buyers to see all the houses, compare prices, and actually see and compare homes under consideration. Throwing numbers in the air about what to offer or what values are is like shooting in the dark. You have to be there to see and understand.
By Janina Carlona,  Wed Feb 23 2011, 07:22
Great article, thanks for the info.
By Nita Mcclellan,  Wed Feb 23 2011, 08:30
Great article Tara! Lots of useful information, thanks for sharing!

Nita McClellan
Keller Williams Realty
Atlantic Partners
By Gail R. Buck,  Wed Feb 23 2011, 09:12
Thank you for sharing this with us.
By Steve Morgan - (302) 541-5363,  Wed Feb 23 2011, 16:38
I am in Bethany Beach Delaware 2-3 hours from DC, MD, VA and PA - the great thing here is low taxes and tons of people with history moving here. I see about 3-4 first time home buyers but your article can help those experience buyers too!

Steve Morgan
Fairfax Mortgage Investments
By Jerry Cibulski,  Wed Feb 23 2011, 20:33
This is very well presented. I reiview many of these topics with my clients.
By Jacques Guercy,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 04:15
Thank for the information I will print the article And put in my buyer folders.
By Tracy Ritchie Walsh,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 06:58
Great information! I look forward to sharing it.
By Leticia Cortez,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 08:49
Great information!
By Rebecca Lingle,  Thu Feb 24 2011, 08:52
Thanks for the post, Tara. Love the insider secrets! If you live in Savannah, GA, or anywhere in the south, it might be a good idea to attend your termite inspection as well. I followed the inspector around during mine, and he shared all kinds of interesting bug information with me that I would have never known otherwise.

Rebecca Lingle
Fred Williams New Home Sales
By Jan Milstead,  Fri Feb 25 2011, 06:12
Great advice for homebuyers!
By Ruth & Perry Mistry,  Sat Feb 26 2011, 07:34
Tara, Good stuff, thanks.
We emailed it to our Active clients.

Have a great weekend.
By Michael Solarz,  Sat Feb 26 2011, 12:09
Tara..lots of good thinking and nicely written...
By Arielle,  Mon Feb 28 2011, 17:56
Fantastic suggestions for home buyers.

business accounting
By Brian Teach, Realtor- CDPE,  Thu Mar 3 2011, 07:13
Great, sound advice for first-time buyers!
By Paul A. DiSegna,  Fri Mar 4 2011, 05:13
Hi Tara
Thank you
Great step by step process
Be well
By Rita Legan,  Sun Mar 6 2011, 11:36
Thanks Tara, I enjoy your articles. Good first time buyer info.
By DAVID COOPER 1.888.616.6226,  Mon Mar 7 2011, 04:16
I would also caution a first time homebuyer NOT to buy a fixer upper or from speculator who just did a minimal job fixing up an old house. Things just seem to go wrong more often in older homes with cosmetic repairs

David Cooper Las Vegas Real Estate Foreclosure House "Cherry Picked" Bank Owned +Cash Flow
By Jan Milstead,  Mon Mar 7 2011, 06:26
Your posts are always worth a second read !
By Timothy M. Garrity,  Mon Mar 7 2011, 06:52
You always have useful posts. Thanks, Tara.

By Lisa Wenzel,  Mon Mar 7 2011, 19:59
Great Post!!! This is really great information for first time homebuyers! http://www.wenzelselectproperties.com
By Sarah Klamm,  Fri Mar 11 2011, 11:20
Thank you! I have been looking for a good way to explain and this is the best I have seen!
By Jen Butel,  Thu Apr 7 2011, 19:25
Well laid out and very helpful information!
By Voices Member,  Wed Jun 19 2013, 12:45
These are some awesome secrets that I never would have known about if I hadn't read this article. Great work, Tara!

David | http://www.dsbahr.com/ROOFING.html

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