real estate

5 major must-haves for a fab first home

An affordable price tag
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An affordable price on a first home is one of the biggest priorities for first-time homebuyers, and with good reason, Bishop says.

"Unlike a trade-up buyer, they don't have any equity to roll into the purchase of their next home, so coming up with a down payment and the financial aspects of buying a home is the first concern," he says.

Coming up with a firm price target for a first home and sticking to it is the key for first-time buyers, says Scott MacDonald, president of RE/Max Gateway in Chantilly, Va.

"Make sure the house is within your budget. A lot of people try to push it and go for the maximum dollar amount they qualify for, trying to keep up with the Joneses. Stay within a reasonable budget so that you don't overextend yourself and get yourself into trouble," MacDonald says.

To be sure, Bishop says, high home affordability is making things easier on first-time buyers because so many markets have stagnated or declined in price in recent years. Also helping first-time homebuyers stay within their budget is the wide selection of housing options. The U.S. housing inventory is still larger than normal. As of January 2012, it would take more than six months to work through.




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