Tips for the First Time Homebuyer

First-time homebuyers – those who have no present home ownership – are some of the luckiest in the market today. In order to stimulate a sluggish housing market, there have been a handful of incentives and loan opportunities that encourage those without a home to buy, in turn stimulating a down economy. Since the housing bubble, the market has been most generous to new buyers thanks to low housing prices and historically low interest rates. The drawbacks have been that lenders have tightened their lending guidelines, and there is a low inventory of homes available.

Why Buy?

Homeownership offers many benefits:

  • Increased control (no more cancelled leases)

  • A residence that better meets your needs

  • Home equity

  • Tax benefits

  • Builds credit

Below are a few tips for the first-time homebuyer.

  • Check the selling prices of homes in your area. For the most accurate data, you’ll need to look at the MLS, so contact a real estate agent who can give you access to this up-to-date, real-time system.

  • Use a mortgage calculator to determine how much you can afford each month. Overestimate your expenses so that you leave ample room to afford your mortgage and the hidden costs, such as HOA fees, property taxes and utility bills.

  • Find out what property taxes will be. There are big differences from one county to the next. Unfortunately, no matter where you live in NJ, you can expect to pay high taxes.

  • Determine how much closing costs will be. First-time homebuyers sometimes have more incentives than other buyers, so you may be able to get your closing costs paid for. Still, it’s not as common for these costs to be rolled into your loan as in years past, so know what you will have to bring to the table.

  • Work with a reputable realtor. A realtor is your best guide during the home buying process and will match you with the best properties, while also keeping you up-to-date on fluctuating interest rates and taxes.

  • Start the pre-approval process. A lender will look at your finances, qualify you based on your income and tell you how much home you can afford. Fannie Mae recommends that you spend no more than 28 percent of your income on housing, so take this into consideration. You want to afford your home, not make it a financial strain.

Still Living in Your Starter Home? Make the Most of the Small Space

It’s no secret that the housing market has been slow to recover, but at least we’re moving in the right direction. Still, millions of families across the U.S. are finding themselves in the home they purchased years ago as a starter home, even though their family has outgrown the space. For some homeowners, it will still take years before they break free from being underwater in their loan, but that doesn’t mean that homes can’t be modified to fit new needs. Here are some of the best tips for making the most of your space.

Use Your Home’s Space from Bottom to Top

If you don’t have a lot of floor space to work with, see what you can do when you start working upwards. A popular idea is hanging multiple shelves on the wall to be used for displaying collectibles, photo frames or books. Use the tops of your cabinets to add plants or cookbooks. Cabinets hung on the walls can also help in bathrooms and kitchens.

Include Dual Purpose Furniture in Main Rooms

There are many pieces of furniture that are dedicated to helping homeowners with small spaces. If you need space for a laptop but don’t want a desk sitting in your family room, try a stylish armoire. These are also great for storing toys inconspicuously. If you enjoy entertaining, try a compact table with leaves that can be inserted. If you lack seating space, try an ottoman that has chairs underneath.

Make Functional Use of Your Garage or Basement

Garages are different for everyone. Some people park their cars in them, others use them to store all of their extra stuff. When you’re tight on space, you need to utilize extra spaces in your home that can offer you more flexibility. Turn your garage into a useful storage space with overhead storage and shelving, or create a workspace for your favorite hobby. Sheds are also a great way to create additional space and can be used for a guest home or hobby space.

Rent a Storage Unit

Sometimes, we accumulate so much stuff, we just can’t house it all anymore. If you plan on moving in the near future and want to save items for this purpose, it makes sense to purchase a storage unit in the meantime. You’ll find that it will make your home much more comfortable, and keep you feeling organized, too. Since storage units cost a monthly fee, it’s best to store only necessary items you know you’ll need.