In Denver, where homes are snapped up nearly as fast as they come on the market, first-time homebuyers can be at a disadvantage. They often come to the market with less cash and credit and certainly have less experience than other buyers.
But a few tips can help the process, notes Marni Jameson, columnist for The Mercury News. Jameson recently spoke with a real estate agent who often works with first-time buyers. The agent advises first-timers to:
Be realistic. You probably won’t be able to afford your dream home the first time out. Keep your head out of the clouds and look for homes that have unrealized potential.
Stay under budget. If you buy a home that’s a little less than you can afford, you will have money for unexpected costs that arise. And one thing is certain: unexpected costs will arise. “You need reserves to deal with the landscape, the broken water heater, and the squirrels in the attic,” notes the agent.
Don’t be taken in by glitzy finishes. While hardwood floors, granite counters and stainless steel appliances are enticing, you can add them later. More importantly, look for solid structural elements (roof, HVAC, insulation, water heater). They will mean much more to your budget over time than new finishes.
Consider what can’t be changed. You can always change the paint and carpet, but if the home is in a neighborhood with a poor school system, backs up to an eyesore or is on a busy street, you will likely live with these things as long as you remain in the home. Better to keep looking.
Be patient. New homes come on the market every day. If you are outmaneuvered on one place that you love, rest assured: another one will come along. Stay positive and keep looking!