Smart Tips for First-Time Buyers

By Tim Bearden, CTW Features Published: January 16, 2010
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Worried about making missteps on the way to your first home? Learn the common mistakes first-time buyers make – and how to avoid them

Buying a house is an investment every individual and family wants to make. But buyers should realize that their first home may not be the home they’re going to live in forever.

A first home is just that. A first home.

Linda Kepple of the Kepple Team at Keller Williams Realty in Peoria, Ill., gives this advice to homebuyers: Know when to draw the line when purchasing a home that needs renovations, she says.

“Of course there are going to be things they can do, but sometimes they take on more than they actually can,” Kepple says.

Brenda Bonello, also of the Kepple team, suggests buying a house that’s a little more expensive up front because the monthly mortgage payments for the nicer home are easier to make than large out of pocket payments.

“Their usually looking at older homes, first-time homebuyers, so the updates are very important. Paying $50 more a month in mortgage is much easier on a first time home buyer than having to take $10,000 out of their pocket to update major systems, a new roof or HVAC system,” Bonello says.

Home Improvement?
Another common mistake is putting more into the home than you can get out of it when you try to turn around and sell it, Kepple and Bonello agree. First-time buyers often think if they make major improvements to the house they will get those expenses back when they try to sell it.

“You only recoup a percentage of any remodeling project or updating project,” Bonello says.

Home inspections are smart investments for first-time buyers, who typically don’t have the experience looking at the home with a critical eye, says Bonello, adding “always, always, always, get a home inspection.”

“They’re not used to being homeowners and maintaining a home,” she says. “They have no idea what the crack in the foundation can mean or water in the basement.”

Adds Brett Kelley, owner of the Chicago Inspection Agency in Prospect Heights, Ill.: “It’s like you want to buy a really, really nice used car like a Lamborghini,” he says.