real estate

5 major must-haves for a fab first home

Location, location, location
4 of 6

Everyone's heard the old cliche "location, location, location," but what does it really mean for first-time homebuyers? Three years after the implosion of the housing market, the keyword is "stability," MacDonald says.

"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 -- because those are the ones that are going to get you the best return later," McDonald says.

If you're looking at potential first homes in a housing development governed by a homeowners association, or HOA, one way to assess a neighborhood's stability is to learn the number of delinquencies for HOA dues. A high rate of delinquencies can mean a neighborhood is headed for hard times, MacDonald says.

Beyond that, Bishop says first-time homebuyers should seek the same characteristics of a prime location that all homebuyers seek.

  • A neighborhood with well-maintained, attractive homes.
  • A location convenient to local amenities.
  • Close proximity to work.
  • A quality school district, especially for first-time homebuyers who plan to have children.




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