Cheryl Fleming - RE/MAX Executive Realty


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Are you in the market for your first home purchase? If so, congratulations! This is an amazingly exciting stage of life, and we know you must be excited.

Many first-time buyers run into issues that can turn their new home into a source of stress. Here are three common pitfalls you should watch out for as you purchase your first home.

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Far and away the most common pitfall that first-time home buyers run into is with setting realistic expectations. It’s a tough market for first-time buyers, and many are tempted to jump in deeper than they can manage. Just because you can get a mortgage without a full down payment doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, for example.

Your mortgage payment is going to be a reasonable percentage of your take-home pay, but don’t let it get too high. Many experts recommend 25 to 30%. And consider what your financial situation will look like if in a few years you add a child or two to the mix.

Everyone’s situation is different, but none of us have infinite money. Take the time to calculate what you can truly afford, and then stick to those figures. You may well tour your dream home as you look at available properties, but living there won’t be dreamy at all if it puts you in financial distress.

Not Considering Non-Mortgage Costs

If you’ve been renting all of your adult life, you need to be prepared for some non-mortgage costs that you probably haven’t had to pay yet.

First, understand that all repairs to your new home and property are your responsibility. If you have a $2,000 sewer repair crop up in the first 2 months of living there, do you have a way to pay for it? When you’re budgeting for your home purchase, make sure there’s enough left over to cover unexpected issues like these.

Second, if you’re bringing a full down payment to the table, there’s one more non-mortgage cost that could catch you by surprise: property tax. Make sure you know before you buy what property taxes are like on similar homes, and save 1/12th of that amount each month.

Making a Purchase Decision Too Quickly

A third pitfall for first-time homebuyers is rushing the purchase decision. Don’t get us wrong, we want you to buy a house! But your house is a long-lasting investment. Get to know various parts of your city, and take your time surveying what properties are available in your price tier.

Most first-time homebuyers won’t be in a position to sell and move up in house for at least five years. So don’t rush the purchase decision. Be sure before you commit.


If you want to quickly find and acquire your dream house, it generally is beneficial to narrow your property search. Because if you focus on available homes in a select group of cities and towns, you may be able to speed up the process of buying your ideal residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you locate your dream home.

1. Consider Your Short and Long-Term Aspirations

Think about where you want to be in the next few years. Then, you can map out your home search based on your short- and long-term goals.

For instance, if you currently work in a big city and intend to stay with your company for many years, you may want to search for a residence in the city itself. Or, if you plan to start a family soon, you may want to focus on houses near parks and schools.

You should try to be flexible as you begin a home search too. Remember, even the best-laid plans won't necessarily come to fruition. But if you maintain flexibility, you could find a home that will suit you perfectly both now and in the future.

2. Create a Budget

The homes in large cities tend to be more expensive than those in small towns. Fortunately, if you craft a homebuying budget, you can determine where you can afford to reside and plan accordingly.

Oftentimes, it helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you meet with banks and credit unions, you can learn about myriad home financing options. Next, you can select a mortgage and enter the real estate market with home financing in hand.

If you have concerns as you pursue a mortgage, don't hesitate to ask questions. Banks and credit unions employ expert mortgage specialists, and these professionals are happy to provide you with the insights you need to make an informed home financing decision.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

If you are uncertain about how to approach a home search, there is no need to worry. In fact, you can hire a real estate agent who can help you identify your dream residence.

A real estate agent is dedicated to client satisfaction, and he or she will work with you to make your homeownership dream come true. First, a real estate agent will help you narrow your house search. This housing market professional then will keep you up to date about available homes in your preferred cities and towns. Once you find a house you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence. Finally, when you are ready to close on a house, a real estate agent will help you complete your home purchase.

Dedicate time and resources to find your dream house – you'll be glad you did. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can accelerate the process of locating your ideal residence and acquire a house that can serve you well for years to come.


Photo by Mostafa Safadel on Unsplash

The penthouse is the pinnacle of real estate in many markets -- and places like New York and Miami -- have plenty of options to choose from. It's easy to get caught up in great decor or fall in love with a view, but there are other considerations as well. Here's what to think about when you shop for a luxury penthouse unit. 

Expect to Pay  a Premium: Most penthouses are priced above similar sized units in the same building, so be prepared to spend a little more for that amazing view and those amenities. A single penthouse spanning the top floor will command more of a premium rate than one that shares the floor with one or more other units. 

You Can Still Negotiate: While a penthouse will command a higher price than any other unit in a specific building or location, you can and should negotiate the best deal. In cities with a glut of inventory in this price range, you may be able to secure a better price, simply by presenting the right offer. Your real estate agent can help you determine how flexible a price is and what fair market value is for a home you are considering. 

Inventory Impacts Price: In high-rise dense cities like New York, there are always penthouse properties available. Outside of cities, though, you may have fewer options  In vacation and resort areas with coveted views, there are only a small number of penthouse properties to begin with, and they are not all on the market at the same time. Act swiftly if a property you truly want becomes available to avoid missing out. 

Visit at All Hours: If you will live in the penthouse property, you should visit it during the day, at night and on weekends. Because this property is near the roof, it may also be near HVAC and elevator equipment -- these can get noisy when in heavy use. Newer penthouses have insulation and soundproofing, but older ones may not, so the home could be noisier than you expect when everyone else in the building is home. 

Is the view guaranteed? A building that faces the ocean and is directly on the beach will have a view that is not interrupted by future construction, but not all penthouses fit this description. You should be aware of zoning and building possibilities -- could a taller building be placed in front of yours -- disrupting your view? Your agent can help you discover if this nightmare scenario is a risk factor in any home you are considering. 

Buying a penthouse is different from other luxury property purchases, because the view and position of the home offer so much and contribute to the price. Be aware of the setup of the building and its location -- and be ready to move if a penthouse becomes available in a market with scant inventory. Your real estate agent can watch for new listings and help you be first in line to view new luxury properties as they arrive in the marketplace and ensure you don't miss out on the home of your dreams. 


Purchasing a home is a life-changing decision, and as such, should not be taken lightly. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to prepare for the homebuying journey, such as:

1. Determine Where You Want to Live

There is no shortage of high-quality houses available across the United States. Now, you just need to determine where you want to reside, and you can hone your house search accordingly.

Think about your long-term plans as you consider where you want to live. For instance, if you enjoy life in the big city, you may want to search for houses in or near the city of your choice. On the other hand, if you want to start a family in the near future, you may want to explore residences near parks and other family-friendly attractions.

Ultimately, it helps to narrow your home search to a few cities and towns. Because if you know where you want to live, you can quickly navigate the homebuying journey.

2. Establish a Budget

A budget is a must-have for any homebuyer, at any time. If you know how much you can spend on a house, you can search for residences that fall within your price range.

Oftentimes, it helps to meet with banks and credit unions before you launch a home search. These financial institutions can teach you about different types of mortgages. Then, you can select a mortgage that suits you perfectly.

Don't forget about home inspection, closing and other property buying fees, either. If you account for these property buying costs, you can ensure you have the necessary funds available to cover them.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a difference-maker for a homebuyer. He or she is happy to teach a homebuyer about the ins and outs of the real estate market. As a result, a real estate agent will help you become a homebuying expert.

Typically, a real estate agent offers recommendations and insights throughout the homebuying journey. He or she first will learn about you and help you establish homebuying expectations. Next, a real estate agent will help you kick off a search for homes in your preferred cities and towns. When you find your dream residence, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase this home. And if your offer to purchase is approved, a real estate agent will help you navigate the final stages of the homebuying journey.

Furthermore, a real estate agent can provide assistance any time a homebuyer has concerns or questions. A real estate agent strives to help you make informed homebuying decisions. Thus, he or she will do whatever it takes to educate you about the homebuying cycle and ensure you are ready to find and buy your ideal residence.

Simplify the process of finding your dream home – use the aforementioned tips, and you can prep for the homebuying journey.


Buying a home represents a life-changing decision. As such, you'll want to look beyond the price of a residence as you search for your dream house.

Ultimately, there are many factors beyond price that you should consider as you pursue your ideal residence, including:

1. A Home's Location

For most homebuyers, a house's location is the number one factor when they explore the real estate market, and perhaps it is easy to understand why.

Finding a home in a location that is convenient for you is priceless. And if you know how to conduct a comprehensive home search, you can quickly discover a high-quality home in a wonderful location.

As you prepare to kick off your home search, consider whether you'd like to live in a city or town. This will enable you to narrow your home search.

You also may want to consider homes that are located near work or school. By doing so, you can ensure that you won't have to travel too far to get to destinations that you frequently visit.

2. A Home's Condition

A home may look like a great investment at first, but its condition may have deteriorated over time. Thus, you'll want to take a close look at a house's condition before you finalize a home purchase.

Typically, a homebuyer will complete a property inspection after a home seller accepts an offer on a residence. This inspection will enable a homebuyer to perform an in-depth assessment of a residence and learn about its strengths and weaknesses. Then, a homebuyer can determine whether to move forward with a home acquisition.

If a property inspector discovers myriad issues that impact a home's condition, a homebuyer may want to reconsider his or her offer. At this point, a homebuyer can still walk away from a home purchase. Or, a homebuyer can ask the home seller to complete various home improvements as well.

On the other hand, a homebuyer who falls in love with a house may choose to proceed with a home purchase, regardless of the residence's condition. If you choose this option, however, it is important to consider the potential long-term ramifications of your decision.

3. Your Future

It is paramount for a homebuyer to find a house that he or she can enjoy for years to come. Therefore, a homebuyer should consider his or her future before finalizing a home purchase.

For example, if you plan to settle down and start a family, you may want to evaluate houses that are close to schools. Conversely, if you eventually want to work in the big city, you may want to consider homes that will make it easy to commute into the city day after day.

Don't forget to hire a real estate agent to help you during the homebuying journey too. With a real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble examining a broad range of top-notch houses that won't force you to break your budget.




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