Area real estate experts offer their best suggestions for assisting first-time home buyers
As the economy slowly bounces back, many first-time buyers scared off by all the talk of sub-prime and bailouts may feel a bit skittish about how to avoid the traps that had such an affect on the housing market. So we asked area experts this question: "What is the single most important piece of advice you can give a first-time home buyer to make the process go as smoothly as possible?" Here’s what they said.
Kathy Hewitt, Hewitt & Habgood Realty Group
Buy now! Interest rates are so incredibly low and the first time home buyer’s tax credit expires Dec. 1. The $8,000 credit is such a bonus. Plus, prices are very low right now. Don’t think they’re going to continue to go lower. Don’t wait.
Diane Sherman, David Griffin Real Estate
Give strong and serious consideration to location issues. Let’s say you fall in love with a house on a very busy street. Unless there are offsetting factors — a large lot or quality — houses that have location issues suffer the most. If you were in a situation where you had to sell quickly, you’d be hard-pressed to do so easily. Buy a house that is internally placed — in a subdivision or neighborhood.
John Weber, Ebby Halliday, Hickman Weber Real Estate Group
The best thing that I would recommend is not to believe everything you read on the Internet or see on television. Information that you read or see may or may not pertain to Texas real estate or more importantly, the Dallas market. I would definitely verify the information that you come across with your trusted real estate and mortgage professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
I can’t begin to tell you how frustrated I get when I watch one of the national morning television news shows and they have their "real estate expert" on talking about how to negotiate a contract or navigate the home buying process. It is very region specific and many times is even neighborhood specific. The only person that can give you the best advice is a local Realtor that knows the ins-and-outs of the market.
Chad J. Brozovich, 3B Real Estate Company
Align yourself with a good, knowledgeable real estate agent. An agent offers representation, understands the process, has market knowledge, knows what a house is worth, can help you through negotiations, inspections, the mortgage process and help with filing for the $8,000 credit. A good agent can help a first-time home buyer along each step of the way.
Bob McCranie, Texas Pride Realty
All buyers need to know that buying from some sellers will take time. Short sales, bank-owned, and government-owned houses can take several weeks or months to get offers returned. Often those homes are in horrible condition and will take additional capital to bring up to livable standards. Buying the cheapest house may not meet the needs of the buyer. It’s often more expedient and cost-effective to pay a bit more and get the home listed by a seller who can make their own decisions and who has improved and prepped their property for sale.
Steven Graves, Steven Graves Insurance
Contact an insurance agent who can quote you from multiple companies to make sure you’re getting the best rate as well as the best coverage. If you’re buying a condo, so many people think the interior is covered by the condominium association’s master policy. That is not true. You need your own policy to cover the interior structure.
Barbara Stone, Allie Beth Allman & Associates
Understand what the costs and expenses of home ownership are. Taxes and insurance are part of the annual expenses whether you escrow or pay it directly.
Also, understand the cost of maintenance and updating. If you’re used to living in apartment, you have to take care of those things yourself now.
Jim Kramer, Keller Williams Urban Dallas
Buying a home is a huge step and can be a scary, especially if it is your first time and you don’t know what to expect. I would recommend to a first-time home buyer after they have talked with their lender and real estate agent to be realistic with your expectations and be patient. Often first-time buyers have unrealistic expectations of what they want. Be patient! It takes time to find the home that you will be comfortable enough to live in. In addition to being patient, expect the unexpected. After submitting an offer, it could take some time before getting a response back from the other party.
This article appeared in the Defining Homes magazine presented by Dallas Voice on October 9, 2009.