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How to's and money-saving tips from resident homeowner and mortgage professional, Cathy West

3 first time home buyer tips

The concept of the starter home is fast fading, if not already gone. According to BankRate, the idea is not as feasible as it once was following the Great Recession. Now first time homeowners don't have the same opportunity to quickly trade-up for a better home. These days your first home is likely to be your first home for a long while, and it is smart to make sure during the home buying process that your prospective house has all the amenities you will need for the long haul.

Keep in mind this home may be long-term
As mentioned above, the concept of the starter home is all but gone due to the effects the recession has had on the housing market. Inventory is low and once you find a home it won't be as easy to move on to a bigger and better one quickly. Usually, when searching for your first home, space – and the quality of it – are priorities. It will be smart to take into consideration long-term plans. Look for a home that is suitable for raising a family , not one with lavish features. Coldwell Banker warns to look past aspects of the house that are easily replaceable. If you don't like them, change that when the home buying process is over. For now keep in mind what is important.

Listen to the old adage, location is important
The perfect home for you and your family is great, but what if the neighborhood it lies in is awful? If you're looking in a neighborhood governed by a homeowners association, make sure to check out the rate of delinquencies. This will be a quick way to get a picture of how the area will be for you and your family.

"Find a neighborhood that's stable — where yards are maintained, where there's not a lot of 'for sale' signs, where there's not a lot of 'for rent' signs, where you have longer-term people living in that neighborhood," Scott MacDonald, president of RE/Max Gateway in Chantilly, Virginia, told Bankrate. "Because those are the ones that are going to get you the best return later."

Keep in mind these criteria when in search of your first home; proximity to local amenities, distance of work commute and quality of the school district.

Has the home been consistently maintained?
Make sure the home has been properly maintained, because you don't want to be shelling out more money once you've purchased your first home on repairs that should've have been paid for by someone else. MacDonald warned of three things too look for when inspecting the home. If you see any of these, get out and look somewhere else for your first home.

These include rotten trim on the exterior, a crumbling roof or damaged gutters and dirty air return ducts and filters. However, these three shouldn't be make or break and a more thorough tour of the home should always happen before a close. Additionally, make sure you prioritize energy efficient windows, updated wiring, a quality water heater and new roof while looking. These you won't want to have to pay for later on down the road.

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