Kathy Wilfert - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage


If you plan to purchase a house soon, you may want to narrow your home search. In fact, there are many reasons why you should hone your house search, and these include:

1. You can seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey.

The homebuying journey may seem tough to navigate, regardless of whether you're a first-time or experienced property buyer. Thankfully, narrowing a home search enables you to speed up the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.

Ultimately, a refined home search allows you to focus exclusively on residences in your preferred cities and towns. This will make it simple for you to find houses that fall within your price range, set up home showings to view these residences and proceed accordingly.

It also may be beneficial to craft a list of home must-haves and wants before you conduct a house search. With homebuying criteria at your disposal, you can further accelerate the homebuying journey.

2. You can act quickly to acquire your dream house.

As a homebuyer, you must be ready to pounce at the opportunity to purchase your dream house. Because if you hesitate during the homebuying journey, you may miss out on the chance to buy your ideal residence.

If you narrow your home search, you may be better equipped than other homebuyers to act quickly to submit an offer to purchase a great house at an affordable price. And if your offer to purchase is accepted, you then can move one step closer to acquiring your dream home.

3. You can avoid wasting time and resources.

When it comes to finding a home, it generally is a good idea to plan ahead as much as possible. That way, you can avoid the risk of wasting time and resources throughout the homebuying journey.

With a refined home search, you can increase the likelihood of maximizing your time and resources. A refined home search ensures you can focus solely on residences that you are sure to enjoy and avoid houses that are unlikely to match your expectations. Then, you can find your ideal home and transform your homeownership dream into a reality.

As you get ready to start a house search, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent. By hiring a real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support as you evaluate residences.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to find a house in any city or town. He or she will learn about you and your homebuying goals and offer personalized home search tips. Plus, a real estate agent will set up home showings and keep you up to date about open house events. Perhaps most important, a real estate agent will respond to your homebuying concerns and questions and ensure you can make informed decisions at each stage of the homebuying journey.

Take the guesswork out of finding the right house at the right price – hire a real estate agent, and you can receive expert assistance as you search for your ideal residence.


Obtaining a mortgage can be overwhelming, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of analyzing various mortgage options and choosing one that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers secure the ideal mortgage.

1. Assess All of the Mortgage Options at Your Disposal

Both fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages are available, and homebuyers who understand the pros and cons of these mortgage options may be better equipped than others to make the right mortgage decision.

A fixed-rate mortgage ensures a homebuyer will pay the same amount each month. For example, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage enables a homebuyer to budget for monthly home payments over the course of three decades. And in many instances, a homebuyer may be able to pay off a fixed-rate mortgage early without penalty.

On the other hand, an adjustable-rate mortgage may start out with a lower monthly payment that escalates over the course of a few years. An adjustable-rate mortgage, for instance, may allow a homebuyer to acquire a home that surpasses his or her initial budget thanks to a lower initial monthly payment. However, after the first few years, the monthly mortgage payment may increase, and a homebuyer will need to plan accordingly.

Assess your mortgage options closely – you'll be glad you did. By doing so, you can boost your chances of selecting a mortgage that works well based on your current and future financial needs.

2. Evaluate Your Credit Score

Believe it or not, a first-time homebuyer's credit score may impact his or her ability to get the right mortgage. Fortunately, a first-time homebuyer can analyze his or her credit score without delay.

You can request a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Then, with your credit report in hand, you can better understand how potential lenders may view your mortgage application.

Of course, if you receive a copy of your credit report and find glaring errors, be sure to let the credit bureau know immediately. This will enable you to get any mistakes corrected and ensure these problems won't slow you down as you pursue your dream residence.

3. Consult with Potential Lenders

Although getting a mortgage may seem like an uphill climb at first, consulting with potential lenders may prove to be exceedingly valuable, especially for a first-time homebuyer.

Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable staff who are happy to educate you about assorted mortgage options. These lenders can teach you about the ins and outs of various mortgage options at your convenience.

Lastly, if you need extra help in your search for the perfect mortgage, real estate agents may be able to offer assistance. These housing market professionals can provide honest, unbiased recommendations about lenders in your area so you can move one step closer to securing your ideal mortgage.

Ready to get a mortgage for the first time? Use these tips, and you can accelerate the process of obtaining a mortgage that suits you perfectly.


Image by Kirk Fisher from Pixabay

Buying a home in a neighborhood with a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) works well for some families, while others find the HOA to be burdensome or intrusive. Learning more about what an HOA is, how it works and what to expect can help you determine if your next home should be in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association.

What Is a Homeowners Association?

When builders or developers create planned communities with ameneties, they often also create a homeowners association to help manage the shared areas of the property when the building is complete. The homeowner’s association has some powers over the people who live in the neighborhood and is also responsible for maintaining the look and integrity of the community. Anyone owning a home in the community must also pay HOA fees for the services rendered. Dues can be paid monthly quarterly or annually and are determined by the association itself and its bylaws.

If you buy a home in a neighborhood with an HOA it is important to discover what rules are in place and what expectations the HOA has of residents. Some are far more involved and assertive than others, with rules for trashcan placement, yard maintenance and even parking. You should know what amenities you’ll have access to when you join the community and how your fees will be spent.

Since HOA fees are an added expense, they’ll also be considered when you apply for a mortgage, so be sure to factor them in when you work out what you can afford.

Benefits of Living in a Homeowner’s Association Community

Communities that have an HOA in place are generally well maintained; the HOA is responsible for caring for public areas, landscaping, sidewalks and some roadways. You won’t have to worry about living in a messy or unsightly neighborhood when an HOA is in place.

A pool you don’t have to care for, tennis courts to use on demand and even a clubhouse for parties and get togethers are big draws for some homeowners, if these things matter to you, you’ll enjoy this type of community.

A community with an active and healthy HOA will likely have groups and social gatherings. In some HOA groups, clubs, celebrations and welcomes for new members are scheduled throughout the year. If you want a close knit, involved community, then the right type of HOA may serve your needs well.

Drawbacks of Living in a Homeowner’s Association Community

The biggest drawback of living in an HOA community is having to cope with rules that you don’t agree with or that put a burden on your family.

For many homeowners, the HOA determines what colors a home can be, how often the lawn should be mowed and even what holiday decorations are acceptable. If you prefer making these decisions for yourself, you may not enjoy an HOA neighborhood.

You may not be able to make some improvements to your home; your HOA will determine if you can create an addition, add a fence (and will specify what kind of fence you can have) or even rent out your property. Homeowners who might want to expand their home, renovate or even have kids or get a dog may find that the rules for fencing and building are too stringent.

In some cases, an HOA has the power to levy annual fees or costs for construction projects and bill homeowners for the work. In some communities, this can run into the thousands of dollars per home. You should be aware of this possibility and determine if the HOA has to power to charge members for capital improvements before you buy.

Is an HOA Community Right for You? 

If amenities and low care public areas matter to you and you don’t have plans for ambitious renovations or home changes, then an HOA neighborhood could suit your needs. If you generally dislike having rules imposed on things you own or feel uncomfortable having to request permission to make changes, the HOA may be more of a burden.

Review the rules and bylaws of any HOA you are considering buying into to be sure you fully understand what to expect before you make a purchase. You’ll be able to enjoy the neighborhood without any unwelcome surprises or costs when you know what to expect.


The homebuying journey can be long and arduous, particularly for an individual who makes mistakes along the way. Fortunately, an informed homebuyer can identify potential problems early in the homebuying journey and take the necessary steps to resolve such issues without delay.

Now, let's take a look at three common mistakes that homebuyers make, along with the best ways to eliminate these problems before they escalate.

1. A homebuyer spends too much time debating whether to submit a home offer.

The housing market moves quickly, and a homebuyer who hesitates to submit a competitive offer on a residence risks losing this house to a rival homebuyer.

Ultimately, it pays to learn about the real estate market. That way, if you fall in love with a house, you'll be better equipped than other homebuyers to submit a competitive offer before it's too late.

Check out the prices of houses in cities and towns where you'd like to live. This may help you narrow your search for the perfect home and provide housing market data that highlights how much it may cost to acquire your dream residence.

Also, take a look at the prices of recently sold houses in different areas. This will enable you to determine whether you're working in a seller's market or a buyer's one.

2. A homebuyer foregoes a home inspection.

Even though a homebuyer may want to rush through the purchase process, there is no reason to forego a home inspection.

When it comes to buying a residence, it is always better to err on the side of caution, and a home inspection offers a valuable opportunity to learn about a house's condition and uncover any "hidden" problems with a residence.

For example, a home inspection may reveal roof damage that could lead to thousands of dollars in roof repairs in the near future. On the other hand, a home inspection may show there are no major issues with a residence, thereby verifying that a house is a sound investment.

Don't forget to consider a variety of home inspectors before you schedule a property inspection. This will ensure that you can find a home inspector who possesses the necessary skills and expertise to perform a deep evaluation of a home before you finalize your purchase.

3. A homebuyer tries to purchase a house without support from a real estate agent.

For those who want to streamline the homebuying process, expert help may be necessary. Luckily, you can hire a real estate agent who can help you seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey.

Real estate agents are easy to find in cities and towns nationwide. Meanwhile, these housing market professionals are available to help you narrow your home search, submit offers on residences and much more.

If you need additional help during the homebuying journey, it usually is a good idea to hire a real estate agent. By doing so, you can receive the expert guidance and support that you need to go from homebuyer to homeowner.


Buying a home is one of the most expensive undertakings that you’ll ever have in your lifetime. You probably have spent months upon months saving for a downpayment in order to make your home purchase. The problem is that after they believe their savings are complete, many buyers discover unexpected costs that go along with buying a home, making the entire process even more stressful. You should be prepared for many different kinds of costs that go beyond the sticker price of a home. Below, many of those surprising costs are laid out in detail. 


Closing Costs


Closing costs can be anywhere from 2-7% of the purchase price of a home. Closing costs cover quite a bit including:


  • Inspection fees
  • Appraisal
  • Title insurance
  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage insurance
  • Underwriting fees
  • Recording fees
  • Loan origination fees

Depending upon the type of loan you get or your specific circumstances, your closing costs could be even more. Keep in mind that you won’t find out your specific closing cost amounts until the purchase of the home is well underway. You can talk to your realtor and lender ahead of time to be prepared for your own situation.


Closing costs are also negotiable, so don’t forget to ask questions. Certain administrative fees, for example, are often unnecessary and can be waived.  


Low Appraisals


If you have a low appraisal on your home, you may need even more cash on hand. In order to meet loan and home value requirements, lenders won’t approve a loan for an amount that’s higher than the home is appraised for. In this case, if you still want the home, you’ll be left to come up with the difference in cash. Otherwise, you could be forced to walk away from the deal and lose some money in the process. This is one of those home purchase emergencies that you should simply be aware of. It can be an emotional experience to get a low appraisal on a home, but remember that there are sensible ways to deal with this dilemma.       


Moving Expenses


Many buyers forget in the excitement of buying a home just how much it will cost to move. Whether you hire a moving company or do it yourself, moving can be expensive. You’ll need a truck, packing supplies and a way to pay (or simply thank) the people who help you to move. 


The Things You Need For Your Home


Your home won’t come with everything that you need. You may have to buy a refrigerator, have some repairs done, or simply get furnishings for the home. Don’t strap your budget so thin that you won’t be able to buy a sofa until six months after moving into the home.   




Loading