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Vital Information for First-Time Buyers
By Phoebe Chongchua
The first-time homebuyer Federal tax credit for $8000, record-low interest rates, and nationwide median home prices dropping to the lowest point in five years, makes this an enticing time to consider buying a home. By the way, that tax incentive isn't truly just for first-time buyers -- it's defined as those not having owned a home in the last three years. Research and knowing your options are critical. Check with your tax accountant for more details. It’s increasingly likely that Congress will extend and expand the popular home buyer tax credit, which will expire at the end of this month.
According to an article in August in the Raleigh News & Observer, 10.8 percent of buyers are motivated to buy due to Federal and state tax incentives. So far only 1.14 million buyers have filed for the credit but many more are expected to file for it on their 2010 returns. However, the National Association of Realtors reports that the first-time homebuyer figure in July was still about 10 percent below the average for the past six years.
There are many aspects to consider when buying your first home. Your price point, location, lifestyle, expert help, mortgage programs, inspections, how quickly you want/need to move, the list goes on. It can seem like an overwhelming process for first-time buyers. In fact, some shy away and continue to rent simply because they don't know who to turn to or where to begin. Today there are more resources than ever available with just the click of a mouse; however, that can create information overload! But if you take a breath and relax, I'll sort through some important factors for home buying. And even if you're a seller, it's good to review this material because it helps to remind you where first-time buyers' mindsets are when they make an offer on your home.
Give yourself more time than you think you need. Due to the housing crisis and credit crunch, the mortgage process can take even longer than it did previously. Searching for a home is averaging about 12 weeks while getting the mortgage process wrapped up can take up to 60 days, according to information released by National Association of REALTORS 2008 Profile of Buyers and Sellers.
Give yourself plenty of time to understand how much home you can afford, what kind of loan is most suitable for your needs, and, of course, plenty of time to select the home that fits your lifestyle. First-time homebuyers often don't have a lot of comparison shopping experience. Frequently they're just getting started. What is acceptable for a rental is likely different from what first-time buyers expect and accept when purchasing their first home. However, first-time buyers must understand that shopping for a home is akin to shopping for a mate... there are always some compromises that are necessary. If you don't allow enough time, you'll find that it will lead to headaches, rushed decisions, and, in the end, you may feel pressured to buy something that you have not had enough time to completely consider—maybe because you have to relocate and start your job.
Never skip an inspection. You simply can't spot everything that could be wrong with the home. While not all sellers do it, some hire an inspector to inspect the home when they list it on the market. However, the burden of the inspection typically falls on the buyer to pay for it. And the information you receive is invaluable. Hiring a certified inspector to give the home a once-over will help you discover problem areas that your agent can then negotiate for repair work or price adjustment. Also, note that the home inspections (yours and the sellers) may differ; examine both, this way you'll learn more about your potential home.
Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, a licensed home inspector says that when you get your home inspection be certain to have everything turned on. In one case, "The water valve to the house was turned to almost off. When you turned it on to regular pressure... the seller had water spurting out of almost all of the faucets because all of the O-rings, the seals, had all dried so much that they were just allowing water to spill right out of them," said Schulte-Ladbeck.
Use experts to help prepare. Having a team of experts who can expedite your search by finding the most suitable properties for you will save you endless hours of looking. Also, the right mortgage expert simplifies the loan process. You'll be guided through the home-buying process instead of becoming overwhelmed by the options, paperwork, and tasks. Using the best specialists can truly make buying your first home a wonderful experience.
Rich Ferretti is involved-period. With over 20 years experience you can trust Rich to take care of all your Charlotte NC real estate needs.
Rich Ferretti, Broker/Realtor
500 W. John Street
Matthews, NC 28105