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First Time for Everything

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By : Carlos Montes    99 or more times read
With government tax credit, low mortgage rates, a glut of low-priced foreclosures and other dangling carrots to tempt the potential first-time buyer into the alluring world of home ownership, it seems there has never been a better time to get one's foot on the first rung of the property ladder.

A wily investor may, with caution, take full advantage of the current housing market, but be warned; there are many pitfalls awaiting the unprepared and unsuspecting.

Before even casting a glance over current property listings, find out exactly how much money you have to play with. Seek the advice of a fully qualified lender and make sure that you get pre-approved for a mortgage before getting too excited about a property you may well be unable to afford.

Bear in mind too that there will be extra costs such as property taxes, utility bills, essential home item purchases, insurance and possibly even repairs, so don't overstretch yourself and make sure that you budget for such considerations.

Find a reputable buyer's agent through trusted sources, be it a professional association or as recommended by friends or family. Too often we hear stories of first-time buyers receiving poor advice as the agent they appointed was working primarily for the benefit of the seller. Don't be frightened to ask blunt questions, after all they are being employed to find you the best house at the best price.

Foreclosed homes can appear to represent a real bargain and indeed there are some keenly priced properties out there waiting to be off-loaded by the banks - but proceed with caution. If they have been left empty for some time these homes may have suffered from neglect or even vandalism and can come with a weighty, and expensive, list of problems. Also, consider that the price that the previous owners paid was probably at the upper end during the pricing peak and that values have been since been re-assessed so it may not be as amazing a bargain as it first seems.

Even in a buyers' market, competition can be strong so don't be too surprised if you find that another 'you' has also fallen in love with 'your' house. With that in mind, don't be discouraged if your first offer isn't met with squeals of delight and be prepared to focus your attention on another property if need be. It's not worth pushing yourself financially just to win a bidding war.

When you've finished trawling the neighborhood and finally found your ideal starter home, make sure that a thorough professional inspection is made of the property. It's worth finding and hiring an inspector yourself to ensure impartiality. Wait until you receive the results of an inspection before committing to a house, after all you might be in for a surprise or two and it may be that you need to reconsider your initial offer.

The first tentative steps to home ownership can be a little scary. If prospective buyers proceed with caution and care, these steps can lead to a thrilling and extremely rewarding path for many happy years.
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