Category Archives: real estate

First-Time Home Buyers: Tips and Tricks

Come join us this evening at the Live Urban Real Estate office for the Live and Learn Happy Hour. My lovely wife is hosting the event and has invited mortgage expert Peggy Delaney and myself to round out the presentation. Each of us will have a list of “tips and tricks” as they relate to borrowing for, buying, and renovating your first home. Here’s my list:


First-Time Home Buyers

Tips and Tricks from a Residential Contractor (and Former First-Timer)


1. Look for a Home with “Good Bones”

When buying a home it’s easy to get distracted by all the interior finishes; pretty tiles, shiny floors. Keep in mind that finishes wear over time and they can also go out-of-style. A sound foundation will always help to maintain a home’s value, especially in a buyer’s market. Most homes are built with “good bones,” but they all age differently. Look for positive site drainage and  downspouts that carry water away from the foundation.

2. Be Inquisitive

Buying a home is a simple process complicated by lots of little details, dates, and deadlines. Don’t be shy, if you’re thinking about buying start having conversations with a realtor and a lender and ask lots of questions. The more you understand about the process of buying your first home, the smoother it will go.

3. Do Your Due Diligence

With a house under contract, take an uncomfortably close look at it. A home inspection report will tell you most everything you should know moving forward with the purchase of the home. Bear in mind that even new homes have inspection issues, and with older homes the list can be lengthy. Accept that no house is perfect and focus on safety issues and big-ticket items. Ask if your home inspection will include a look at the roof, get a roofing contractor to look at it if it doesn’t. A sewer scope is an additional inspection that is well worth the $125 journey. If there are issues with the sewer, you can negotiate to have it fixed or even reduce the price of the house.

4. Be Realistic About Renovations

Yes, it would be great if that wall wasn’t there, it would really open up the floor plan. Remember that in home remodeling anything is possible, for a price. Cosmetic remodeling (paint, carpet, and sometimes tile) can be done by homeowners and can be spaced out over time. When you start moving walls or adding living space, the disruption and expense can add up  quickly. Buying your first home with a functional interior will allow you precious time to work on outdoor living spaces or curb appeal, both of which can deliver healthy returns on your home improvement investment (plus it’s a good place to start for novice fixer -uppers). Look for diamonds in the rough, homes with good bones but overgrown or absent landscaping. Also keep in mind that dated finishes will eventually come back into style, or so I keep telling my wife!