Kathy Kelley | Wellesley Real Estate, Natick Real Estate, Needham Real Estate, Weston Real Estate


Ready to enter the real estate market for the first time? As a first-time homebuyer, you may encounter many challenges as you kick off your search for the perfect house. However, property buyers who understand these challenges will be better equipped than others to overcome such difficulties quickly and effortlessly.

Now, let's take a look at three common challenges that first-time homebuyers may face:

1. You don't know what to look for in a house.

You know you want to own a house, but how do you define your "dream" residence? Ultimately, you'll want to consider what you'd like to find in your perfect house so you can map out your real estate search accordingly.

Creating a checklist of things you'd like to have in your dream home usually represents a great starting point for first-time homebuyers. This checklist should include both "must-haves" and "wants" and can help you narrow your search for the ideal residence.

2. You aren't sure how much money you have available to purchase a home.

How much can you spend to acquire a residence? Without a budget, you may struggle to begin your real estate search.

Lucky for you, many banks and credit unions make it simple to get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Set up meetings with a few lenders in your city or town – you'll be glad you did. These lenders can help you assess your current financial situation, outline all of your mortgage options and ensure you can gain pre-approval for a mortgage.

With a mortgage in hand, you may be better equipped than other homebuyers to secure your ideal residence. This mortgage will help you determine exactly how much you can spend on a home. Plus, getting pre-approved for a mortgage can help you avoid the temptation to spend beyond your financial means to acquire your dream house.

3. You don't know what it takes to go from homebuyer to homeowner.

The homebuying process can be long and complicated, especially if you have no idea about what to expect from it. Fortunately, real estate agents are available to help you take the guesswork out of going from homebuyer to homeowner.

A real estate agent is a housing market professional who is happy to share his or her insights with you. He or she will respond to your homebuying concerns and queries and teach you about all stages of the homebuying cycle.

Furthermore, a real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you up to date about new houses as they become available and negotiate with property sellers on your behalf. This housing market professional will even go above and beyond the call of duty to guarantee you can purchase a home that you'll be able to enjoy for years to come.

When it comes to buying a home for the first time, there is no need to navigate the homebuying journey alone. Instead, collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can accelerate the process of acquiring a top-notch house at a budget-friendly price.


Let's face it – there are many risks that you may face during the homebuying journey. From submitting an offer on a house that ultimately proves to be a poor investment to failing to obtain a mortgage due to a bad credit score, there are various issues that may prevent you from achieving your desired results. Lucky for you, we're here to help you focus on the task at hand and eliminate potential risks as you search for your ideal residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you avoid risks throughout the homebuying journey.

1. Set Realistic Homebuying Expectations

How you search for a home may determine whether you are successful or unsuccessful. For example, if you evaluate houses that fall outside your price range, you may struggle to find a home that you can actually afford. On the other hand, if you establish realistic homebuying expectations from the get-go, you may be able to streamline your house search.

Think about where you want to live and how much you can afford to pay for a home. Also, you should consider home must-haves and wants. With this information at your disposal, you can avoid the risk of missing out on an opportunity to acquire a residence that matches your expectations.

2. Get a Mortgage

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is pivotal. Because if you obtain a mortgage today, you can enter the housing market with a budget and narrow your house search accordingly. Perhaps most important, a mortgage enables you to avoid the temptation to pursue homes that be priced beyond your budget.

Consult with banks and credit unions, and you can learn about a broad array of mortgage options. Then, you can select a mortgage and kick off your search for your dream residence.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

Problems may arise at any point during the homebuying journey. And if you're unsure about how to address these issues, it may be tough for you to acquire your ideal residence. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you may be able to identify and address homebuying problems before they escalate.

A real estate agent understands the housing market and is happy to share his or her expertise with you. This housing market professional can teach you about the differences between a buyer's and seller's market, help you prepare a homebuying strategy and much more.

Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent can provide as you get ready to submit an offer on your dream home, either. A real estate agent will help you craft a competitive homebuying proposal. Furthermore, he or she will negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and do everything possible to ensure you can acquire your dream residence at a budget-friendly price.

Take control of the homebuying journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you can limit risk as you search for your ideal house.


Home prices may vary greatly throughout the country. But, buying a home is most likely the largest purchase you will make in your life.

Deciding just how much to spend on your home isn’t just a matter of numbers--it also depends on your lifestyle and long-term goals.

In today’s post, I’m going to give you a few ways you can help determine how much is a safe amount to spend on your home so that you’ll feel confident moving into the home buying process that you’re making the best decision for you and your family.

Mortgage as a percent of your income

Like most large purchases, buying a home typically isn’t dependent on the amount you have in the bank. Rather, it depends on several factors including your income, credit score, and the type of lifestyle you want to maintain.

One of the simplest ways to determine how much house you can afford is to figure out what percent of your monthly income your mortgage and insurance will be.

For most homeowners, a mortgage payment that is 25% of their income or less is ideal. So, if you earn $6,000 per month, you don’t want your monthly mortgage payment to exceed $1,500.

This “25% rule” does have one flaw, however, and that does not--and cannot--account for each individual’s financial circumstances.

Let’s say, for example, that you earn $6,000 per month, but that you have a large monthly car payment and are trying to aggressively pay off your student loans. You might find that paying another $1,500 toward a mortgage on top of your current bills is bringing you over budget, especially when combined with your other monthly expenses and retirement contributions.

Plan for homeowner expenses

Another caveat to determining how much to spend on a home is that the home itself will require a budget for maintenance. When renting an apartment, repairs are mostly the responsibility of the landlord or property manager.

Homeownership, on the other hand, requires you to make the repairs yourself or hire a professional. And, if you neglect these repairs, you might find that they cost you even more in the long run or drive down the value of your home.

Create a comprehensive budget

Throughout a given person’s life, they’ll experience raises, promotions, layoffs, medical expenses, childcare costs, and any other number of financial changes. While it isn’t possible to foresee all of the financial fluctuations you’ll experience in life, it is always helpful to have a comprehensive budget.

What do I mean by “comprehensive budget”? The goal of a good budget is to know where each dollar of your income is currently going and to have a plan for each cent that you make. This is a proactive approach to budgeting that will give you an exact number for the amount you can afford when it comes to a mortgage payment.

Within your budget, it’s vital to account for things like an emergency fund, retirement, savings for vacations, and so on.

If you take this due diligence, not only will you have a better sense of where your money goes, but you’ll also be confident in knowing exactly how much you can spend on a home.


Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you’re upgrading to a larger house to fit your family’s needs, it’s vital to understand just how much house you can afford before you start shopping for homes.

When planning for your future home, there are two main things you need to figure out.

  • What is a smart amount to spend on a home for your budget

  • What are the key features in a home that will give you the most benefits for the cost

These two questions may seem simple, but there are quite a few factors that should go into determining each one.

So, in today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the process of determining what kind of house you can afford so you can make the best home buying decision for you and your family.

A smart home buying budget

To create an effective budget, you’ll need to gather some information and possibly create a spreadsheet with Excel (or a free alternative like Google Sheets).

On your spreadsheet, you’ll first want to add up all sources of income that your family has. This is the easy part for most people who only have one or two sources of income based on a salaried job.

Next, is the hard part--expenses. We can’t just use your current expenses to determine the new budget because we have to account for changes in several areas.

If you aren’t sure of the cost of living for the area you hope to move to, try plugging it into this cost of living comparison tool to see get a better idea of the cost of things like transportation, childcare, groceries, and more.

Likewise, it’s also a good idea to assume you’ll be paying more in utilities if you’re hoping to move into a home that is larger than your current home. Keep in mind, however, that different houses have different levels of energy-efficiency, so it’s a good idea to also ask the seller of the homes you’re interested in to determine what your costs might be.

Now, subtract your expenses from your income. The amount remaining should easily cover whatever mortgage payment you receive along with, ideally, 20% of your income going toward savings.

Deciding what you need in a home

The second part of determining how much house you can afford is to find out exactly what you’re looking for in a home. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, location, the size of the backyard; all of these are questions that have a monetary value.

So, to really answer this question you’ll need a strong understanding of what you and your family’s goals are for at least the next 5-7 years, if not longer.

Once you have your long-term goals and a good understanding of your budget, you can start safely shopping for homes with a clearer idea of the type of home you’re looking for and just how much home you can afford.


We all know that buying a home is expensive. For first-time buyers who don’t have the luxury of equity for a down payment, it can be difficult to find a way to finance your home without taking on a huge interest rate and mortgage insurance.

Fortunately, loan programs like those offered by the U.S. Veterans Affairs can be a godsend. However, there is a great deal of confusion around who is eligible for VA loans and how to acquire them.

So, in today’s post, we’re going to cover some of the frequently asked questions of VA loans. That way, you can feel confident in knowing whether or not it’s a good financing option for you and your family.

VA Loans FAQ

Who is eligible for a VA Loan?

VA loans aren’t just for veterans. Most members of the military, including Reserve and National Guard members can apply. Additionally, spouses of service members who died from a service-related disability and those who died on active duty can apply as well.

How long do you have to service to be eligible?

The VA defines eligibility as having served no less than 90 days of service during wartime and 181 days of continuous service during peacetime.

Who are VA Loans offered by?

Like any other loan, VA loans are offered by private lenders. The difference is that VA loans are guaranteed by the government. That means that the federal government takes on some of the risk of lending to you, therefore making it possible to secure a loan with little or no down payment.

Should I make a down payment on a VA loan?

If you have the means, making a down payment will almost certainly save you money in the long run. If you can put down 10% of your total mortgage amount, you can also significantly reduce the VA Funding Fee.

Will I have to pay private mortgage insurance?

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is something that borrowers pay on top of their mortgage payments and interest. This additional insurance helps borrowers buy a home with a small down payment. VA loans allow you to secure a mortgage without PMI.

Are VA loans different for active duty, National Guard, and Army Reserve members?

Each type of service member is eligible for a VA loan. However, there are some minor differences regarding the VA Funding Fee. With no down payment, an active duty member would pay 2.15% of the loan amount in fees. National Guard and Army Reserve members pay around 2.40% with no down payment.

What does my credit score need to be to get a VA loan?

The VA doesn’t have a set minimum credit score. However, the private lenders that offer the loan do. On average, the lowest credit score that you can secure a VA loan with is around 620. That being said, a higher score will secure you a lower interest rate, saving you money over the lifetime of your loan.




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