Jan Kennemer | Arlington Real Estate, Alexandria Real Estate, Falls Church Real Estate


For first-time homebuyers, going from property buyer to property owner may seem virtually impossible. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of buying a home.

Now, let's take a look at three questions that every first-time homebuyer needs to consider:

1. What is my "dream" residence?

One first-time homebuyer's definition of a "dream" residence may differ from another's. As such, you should consider what you'd like to find in a dream house before you begin your real estate search.

Creating a checklist of "must-haves" and "wants" in your house often serves as a great starting point for first-time homebuyers. This checklist will enable homebuyers to consider what they'd like to find in a dream home and plan accordingly.

Also, it is important to establish realistic expectations before you kick off a home search.

Many terrific houses are available in cities and towns nationwide, but no home is likely to have every feature that you desire in a dream residence.

Therefore, if you establish realistic expectations for your home search, you can avoid potential let-downs as you explore a broad array of high-quality houses.

2. How will I pay for a home?

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is vital for a first-time homebuyer, and for good reason. With pre-approval for a mortgage, you'll know what you can afford to spend on a home before you enter the real estate market.

Many banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you to discuss your mortgage options. These lenders can outline the differences between adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages, help you assess your credit score and ensure you can make an informed mortgage decision.

Furthermore, lenders can answer any mortgage questions that you may have. They can help you evaluate your current financial situation and enable you to obtain a mortgage that won't force you to revamp your day-to-day budget.

3. How do I begin searching for a house?

Beginning a home search is easy, particularly for first-time homebuyers who work with expert real estate agents.

An expert real estate agent understands what it takes to find a wonderful house at a budget-friendly price. In fact, he or she will do everything possible to help you navigate the housing market quickly and effortlessly.

Typically, an expert real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and submit home offers on your behalf. This housing market professional also will offer honest, unbiased recommendations throughout the homebuying journey to help you select a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.

When it comes to exploring the housing market, there is no need to work alone. Fortunately, you can hire an expert real estate agent who can help you get the best results possible during the homebuying journey.

Want to acquire your first home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can move one step closer to owning a top-notch house.


You may see homes listed as in a search for a home that are denoted as a “Homepath property.” You may wonder what this means and if you’re even eligible to buy the property. It is a specialized program, so you’ll want to be informed on what it means to use it and what the process is. 


Fannie Mae Programs


What was formerly known as a Homepath property is now known as The Home Ready Mortgage by Fannie Mae. With the Homepath program, people are able to find and purchase homes with a bit more ease and less financial risk. If you’re buying your first home, this could be the perfect way to get it. This program offers a list of foreclosed properties with really good deals on them. Repeat buyers can also find some great deals through this program, so it has something for everyone. It has so many benefits for anyone who is looking to buy a home.     



How To Get A Homepath Property


Fanie Mae does require that you place a bid through a realtor. The program is designed for buyers to better understand the risks with buying foreclosed homes, while giving them a better opportunity to purchase a foreclosed home. Since foreclosed homes are sold as-is, there’s a risk that the home actually has some serious damage that needs to be repaired at a high cost. This is where a realtor comes in, as they can help buyers to understand ho much work a property may need and the exact risks involved.  


Low Down Payment


  Even if a home through the Homepath program requires extensive repairs, it’s not an opportunity that you should should shoot down right away. Unlike traditional mortgages where you’ll typically need 20% down to purchase, Fannie Mae only requires that buyers place as little as 3% down. This means that with the low cost of the available homes and the small down payment required, buyers can save thousands of dollars in total. Of course, this savings can help buyers to make the required repairs to the home. 


Eligibility Requirements


There’s not many stringent requirements to be eligible to buy a Homepath property. Most people actually can be found to be eligible for these purchases. The biggest requirement is that before buyers reach the closing table, they’ll need to take an education course. This allows buyers to get assistance with the closing costs.  


Learn More About Homepath


If you’re looking to buy a home at a low cost, you should definitely talk to your realtor about the Homepath program. They can also explain more about specific eligibility requirements. It’s easy to make use of this program, so start saving right now and search for a Homepath property.


Buying a home is one of the more complicated purchases that you’ll make in your lifetime. It’s not something that you can just open your wallet, pull out a wad of cash and buy. There’s a warm-up period for a house hunt. You need to prepare before you even start the process of the purchase. There’s a lot of different things that you should do to ready yourself to buy a home. You’ll need to organize your finances, find a real estate agent and ready yourself. If you’re looking to buy a home in the near future, it’s time to get busy! 


Keep Your Credit Score In Check


Your credit score is so important for so many reasons. The highest your credit score can be is 850 and the lowest it can be is 300. You’ll get a really good interest rate on a home if your credit score is 740 or above. A lower interest rate can save you a lot of money over a year’s time. 

The good news is that you can spend time repairing your score. This will include paying down debt, asking for credit limits to be raised and correcting errors that may be on your credit report. You want to be sure that you’re using 30% or less of your total available credit. As always, if your bills are paid on time, it will help you to keep that score up. Also, stay away from opening new credit cards, as this can bring your score down due to frequent credit checks. 


Put Gifts To Good Use


Whenever you get a financial gift, whether it be for a wedding, a Christmas bonus, or a birthday gift, make sure that you save it for your home purchase. You’ll need quite a bit of capital between closing costs, fees and down payments. You’ll be glad you saved the money once you start the home buying process. You’ll also want to make sure that you have and emergency fund built up. You don’t want to buy a home without some sort of a financial cushion behind you. 


Research Real Estate Agents 


Your real estate agent will be your right hand person when it is time to buying a home. You’ll want to know that your agent is knowledgable and can help you in this big decision. Your real estate agent is the person who will help you reach your goals, and you want to feel comfortable with them. Ask for recommendations and do your research.  


Get Preapproved


Sellers love buyers who have been preapproved. This shows that they’re reliable and financially able to buy a home. A preapproval can be done a few months in advance of buying a home. It will take an in-depth look at your finances including:


  • Proof of mortgage or rent payments over the last year
  • W2 forms for the past 2 years
  • Paycheck stubs for the past 2 months
  • List of all debts including loans and court settlements
  • List of all assets including car titles, investment accounts and any other real estate you may own.


Buying a home is a big deal but with the right preparation, you’ll be on the road to success and ready to secure a home purchase.


You’ve closed on your new house, moved all your boxes, and started planning how to arrange your furniture. Your family can’t wait to settle in and regain a sense of normalcy after the chaos of moving. But before you get back to your normal routine be sure to add these tasks for new homeowners to your to do list. Each takes just an hour of your time and will help you to stay on top of maintenance as well as familiarize yourself with your new domain.

Start by finding out where your main water shutoff valve is located. This is not something you want to have to find when you are in an emergency. In colder climates, it’s most likely to be found in your basement and if you are in a warmer climate you should find it outside. If you keep a binder for home updates add a note of the location within.

Make sure your attic insulation is the correct depth. You want at least 6 inches and even more in northern states. Ensuring that your insulation is the correct depth will help you to save money throughout the year on heating and cooling costs. If you’re attic doesn’t have the correct depth or is damaged be sure to have it replaced as soon as possible. Oftentimes you can get incentives for improving your insulation and thus creating a more energy efficient home.

Check the temperature of your hot water heater and be sure it is set at 120 degrees tops. If you have an older model add a hot water heater blanket to help retain heat. If you find that your heater leaks you want to replace it immediately. A small leak can quickly lead to a major one, flood your home and cause serious damage. Again, be sure to keep note of the month and year you replaced your heater or which year your current model is.

Replace air filters right away so that you will know when they’ve last been replaced. Add monthly reminders to your calendar to stay on top of this quick maintenance task. You can make this task even easier by buying them in bulk. If you love to be organized label them for each month so you know exactly when you’ll next need to replace them.

Change all of the locks on your home. This is simple enough to do on your own and is an easy proactive safety measure for your family. While one hopes there are no lingering keys out in the world of your home, you can’t be sure of who may have a spare key.  

Take note of any cracks in your basement. If you find any mark their length with a piece of masking tape and mark with the current date. Watch closely to see if the crack spreads beyond the mark. If you find that the cracks are lengthening be sure to get them taken care of by a professional. This is a serious repair you don’t want to wait on.

Buying a new home is an exciting time. Especially after you’ve closed on the house, can begin to move in and start settling into your routine. Before you get too comfortable be sure to add a few tasks to your to do list. Familiarizing yourself with your new home right away will help you stay on top of maintenance and have peace of mind.




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