Cheryl Eidinger-Taylor, president of ERA Key Realty Services in Northbridge, Massachusetts:

What tips do you have for first-time homebuyers?

Make sure you know the process. Review the home-buying process, timing of a purchase, funds that will be needed and the current market circumstances (i.e., is it a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? Are short sales or foreclosures available, etc.). By knowing the process before looking at homes, the buyer will be prepared to make a quick decision, which is especially important today, as inventory is limited.

Buyers should be pre-approved for a mortgage and should know how much they can afford to spend.

Be prepared to act quickly. Today’s market is a seller’s market. Inventory is low and we are seeing bidding wars, where the seller ends up selling for a higher price than the initial listing price. Agents and homebuyers should be available as quickly as possible, so they can act quickly. Buyers should be prepared to lose a few before they purchase the home they truly want.
Buyers need to know that they can’t wait around in conditions like these. If you’re serious about buying a home, you and your agent should be prepared to view the home as soon as possible and to submit an offer quickly.

Don’t include too many contingencies. Be careful not to include too many contingencies when making your offer. Even if your offer is higher than another’s, it may be rejected if you place too many demands on the seller, like expecting them to pick up closing costs or include appliances in the sale.

Don’t try to buy your last home first. If you are a first time home buyer, remember the adage, “Don’t try to buy your last home first.” Expect that your needs will change and that at some time in the future, you will be able to afford a larger home with all of the features you desire.

While it is important to like the looks of a home and the neighborhood around it, be certain to make rational, rather than emotional, decisions. The home you fall in love with may be overpriced or it may be in a neighborhood where you do not want to live.

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