First-Time Homebuyers: Keep It Fun

Hello Hampton Roads,

Today we have a special treat--guest blogger, Jim McKinleyJim McKinley, is providing this post on keeping the home buying process fun! Sage advice, indeed :)

                                                 Courtesyof Unsplash

Making a down-payment on your first home is one of the biggest single purchases of your life, right up there with a car and an engagement ring, but that’s where the fun – or the stress – really begins.

“The joys of homeownership” is a wry phrase knocked about for a reason: Anyone who has to balance a hefty mortgage on top of all his other responsibilities knows that when the HVAC dies or the basement needs waterproofing or the neighbor’s tree roots buckle your driveway, you may start recalibrating how much resentment you harbored against your old landlord.

Still, challenging as moving into your starter home can be, it can be equally joyous. Just be sure to live by some of these tips to stay sane, go easy on your pocketbook, and keep it all in perspective.


One of the best ways to cut down on your stress from the get-go is to come up with a budget before you dive in. How solidly does your income stack up against your bills? A rule of thumb is that your debt-to-income ratio shouldn’t exceed 36 percent. For example, if you make $100,000 per year, you shouldn’t be paying more than roughly $3,600 in debt expenses per month.

After you figured out your part in the equation, research the market. Look up loan types, compare mortgage rates and keep below your pre-approval limit. A sober assessment of your finances may sound dry, but it’ll make taking on a 30-year payment-plan far less intimidating.

However, if you’re having trouble securing a loan due to poor credit, you may need to take some time to repair it before moving forward. During this time, you can contact a credit repair company, which can help address any issues or problems with your credit report. However, it’s important to select a credit repair company that’s on the up and up, so do plenty of research through sites like Consumers Advocate to ensure you’re working with a reputable business.

Pick What’s Right for You

“Price, location, amenities – pick two,” realtors often tell homebuyers. Or, depending on the market you’re looking at, "pick one" is more likely. Their point is that, for most people, a down-payment will only afford some – but not all – of what you want, so gird yourself for some compromising. That process of whittling down, though, can nudge you into discovering what you really want. Rather be near work or have a big yard? Ready to tackle a fixer-upper or willing to settle for new fixtures but no character? The options can multiply (and seem to lead nowhere), so go with your gut.

Whatever you choose, make sure you simply feel like you belong in the house you pick.


People frequently list moving among the most stressful life events that they go through, up there with illness, divorce, job loss, and, yes, death. But it doesn’t have to be dire, especially when you pace yourself. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you probably haven’t amassed the mausoleum of furniture and appliances that people running households for years find themselves enclosed in, and you can save money by not hiring a moving company and, instead, asking friends or family for help. What’s in it for them? Never forget, pizza goes a long way in convincing people.

Make It Yours

First-time homebuyers often discover that adding their personal touch to their house gives them a sense of pride and grounds them in their new phase in life. Also, the checklist of DIY repairs under $100 can transform a space – installing floating shelves, converting a nook into an office, painting the porch ceiling sky blue for an airy effect. Add a few rocking chairs and potted ferns out there, and you’ve just created a space to lounge in the lilac air of your new neighborhood.

Saving up, hiring a realtor, scoping out houses, shelling out a down-payment, boxing up your whole life – moving into your first home can be daunting. But think of the reward: The raised vegetable garden off the back deck. A slant of light hitting the new hardwood on quiet mornings. Plumtree branches brushing against the bedroom windows. Your home is your spot of earth, and if you stay within your budget and be true to what you’re really looking for, the process of arriving there will have its challenges, but also its tantamount joys.

Thanks for Reading,


Serving your Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach Real Estate needs. Liz Schuyler on Google+


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