For many of our listeners, planning a wedding goes hand in hand with purchasing your first home together as a couple. Today’s episode of Wedding Secrets Unveiled! features the amazing Jennifer Bove of Keller Williams Coastal Realty to help you set up the proper building blocks to prepare to buy your first home. Jennifer discusses how to utilize one of her favorite resources—Your First Home by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. And for one lucky listener, we are giving away a copy of the book on our Instagram. So, head on over to our account in the first week of launching this episode for your chance to win!
My name is Jen Bovie. I’m the broker owner for Keller Williams coastal here in Rhode Island. We have seven locations for real estate, and we service every type of homebuyer – home seller, commercial land, and everything in between. A big piece of what I do is I help agents grow their businesses and work with us at Keller Williams. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years.
What did you bring with you today?
I brought a book called “Your First Home” by Gary Keller and Jay Pappas. It’s a proven path to homeownership in this book. This book is an absolute resource for anybody who is purchasing their new home or just got into their first home. It really is just a book full of value for a pathway to homeownership!
We’re doing a little giveaway with this book. Rate and review the show then check our Instagram and Facebook for specifics about our book giveaway! Valid for the week of this episode’s launch only.
Let’s dive in with the rest of the episode! So many of our listeners are newly engaged or thinking about getting engaged. A lot of times, this goes hand in hand with starting new chapters in your life – like homeownership. Tell us about that preparing to buy your first home.
Let’s start from where I started back in 2001. When I got my real estate license, I was lucky enough to start working with first time homebuyers. At the time, I was 22 years old and the buyers in that timeframe were my friends. So, I really started out by doing first time homebuyer seminars back at American Power Conversion, which is a local company. I would go there and teach a group of people how to purchase their first house. Honestly, that’s how I got a lot of my experience – teaching this seminar. I would always bring a lender with me a home inspector with me, and we would go through the process and talk about what that experience looked like from the start to the interview to going getting pre-approved and then beyond.
Can you start at the beginning of this process?
Yes – so, my first piece of advice would be to meet with a professional. I would say, a lot of times buyers think going right to the listing agent or right to the house in general is the best option. But the best thing for a buyer is to go to a buyer representative and have a consultation, where they’re going to work on their best behalf to be able to negotiate for them and really work for them throughout the entire transaction. There is a lot involved when you’re buying your first house.
Remember, that listing agent is representing that seller. So they really can’t look out for your best interest fully. They could treat you honestly and fairly, and all of those great things – but they can’t negotiate on your behalf. And, they can’t really pull comparable properties, or give them any advice that would help them negotiate a better deal throughout the whole process.
So the first thing to do is to find an agent for yourself.
Absolutely. There are a lot of agents out there – and I’m pretty sure that you know somebody who knows somebody. Ask around to find out who is the best agent that they know. You don’t always have to go with the first person you find. Work with somebody who you feel is going to look out for you in your best interests and fits well with your personality.
Do you find that it’s common for people to “interview” agents?
You know, crazy enough, statistically, with the National Association of Realtors, you don’t see that the homebuyers actually go and interview multiple agents. What they do is they go with the first person who is referred to them and most of the time, that’s the best option most of the time. Just make sure that the agent you do select to work with does fit the personality and type of home you’re looking for. They’ll know all the strategies for negotiating, for financing, because every buyer is different. A lot of times, if your agent or representative doesn’t have the information or knowledge, you might miss out on something.
Yeah, so that is a good tip. Call around and find the person that’s right for you. Then what?
Before you call around, ask your friends and family who they use, because I’m sure that they have had great representatives in their corner that they could share with you.
Yeah. Then like you said, though, it’s going to be the best match for you -if that’s what you’re looking for. Once you’re setup with an agent, what’s the next thing to consider?
The next step is get into a consultation with that representative. In that consultation, you’re going to go through the process of what happens for that first time home buying. From qualifying properties, what your five must haves and what you don’t want to do or where you don’t want to look– you’ll want to discuss those. From there, your agent will then set up appointments to look at properties that fit that criteria. If you find yourself looking at many homes, you may want to re-establish those criteria. Check that you explained everything well or if anything different has come up, mention that. You want to look at properties that fit exactly what you’re looking for – at least your 5 must haves.
A lot of times, too, if you’re a first-time homebuyer – you think something’s important and it’s not until you start to step into these homes that you realize something isn’t important to you after all.
Are there any common things that first time home buyers look for in those top 5?
After 2020 and COVID, you see a lot of first time homebuyers – really any buyers – looking for space to be at home to work and play. I think, extra space, because a lot of times people want to find space where they can do something that keeps them occupied. Them and their pets. First-time homebuyers are buying houses for their pets, not their future families.
That’s such an interesting trend. Okay, so you’re looking at properties – what happens in the very beginning stages of home buying?
After you do consultation and start looking at properties, then you start narrowing it down and really considering what property you want to put an offer. That’s the next step. As soon as you find that house that you say that you’re ready to start making an offer. Now, prior to that, you should have discussed financing with your mortgage consultant.
You have to start budgeting for a down payment.
Hopefully before you even meet with your agent, you’ve had that kind of thought in your head and what that looks like. If you haven’t, it’s okay – they’re going to help you figure that out along with the whole process.
Speaking of mortgages, your husband is in the industry, isn’t he?
I do know somebody in the industry very well! Yes, my husband, Matthew Kelly is a loan officer with Movement Mortgage.
Perfect. So look him up and we also spoke with Danielle Gervais from Providence Mortgage Associates in episode 29 if you want to check that out. Okay, so you refer your clients to a mortgage consultant to get their finances in order. Take me through that.
There are a lot of different programs out there for first time homebuyers. You want to make sure when you’re meeting with a mortgage lender that you’re asking them the question about what options you have. Your loan officer will work through that with you. Ask about the options – even if you think you know (or don’t). All the abbreviations can feel overwhelming. Having a professional on your side to explain the details of everything will help you find a few programs that would fit you and your needs.
So that goes back down to what your step one was: find the agent for you, because they’re going to point you in the direction you need. You told me a little bit about some of the things you should do for first time homebuyer or when it’s dealing with their finances. Tell us about some stuff that they should not do!
Oh, my goodness, Sara, first and foremost: you should not make any large purchases while you’re going through any home purchasing process. I really can’t say that enough. I say it and we still get buyers who do things like buy an engagement ring or buy furniture ahead of time or a new car. Doing something like that can become challenging and affect them on the closing because income to debt is important. If you purchase something large, your debt to income could shift and push you out of purchasing that property.
That sounds like a big one. What do you do if they something like that?
So, if you’ve done this prior to making an offer on your property, when you’re speaking with your professionals, just make sure you let them know. It’s something you want to share and not have discovered.
What else should they not do?
So, the other thing is coming up with the money you plan to use. If you’re putting down money at all, your lender has to know where it came from. So don’t just come up with money that you can’t trace where it’s from. It can’t just have come from under a mattress or something. There’s a process behind money being gifted, too, so just speak with your lender about that process.
Another thing – don’t go look at properties without getting pre-approved or pre-qualified by that lender. Why? Because a lot of times you could fall in love with a property and then realize it’s outside of your budget. That’s really disappointing and hard to recover from. It’s hard to look at houses and not know if they’re in your budget. So, make sure you get that pre-approval or pre-qualification letter that indicates how much you can spend monthly. It also helps you decide what your negotiating power will be. Make sure that your top 5 fit in that price range.
So, we found this house, we love it, it has our five must haves – what do we do now?
Okay, I will tell you a lot of times when you make an offer on a property, sometimes you’re not going to get your offer accepted. So, I want to make sure that we understand that and are setting the expectations that the property that fits your criteria might not be the house that you end up in. That’s happened a lot in the last few years, with the market we’ve had – buyers were exhausted from putting in offer after offer and not getting accepted. The market is now changing nationwide, and inventory is still going to be a challenge. You might come up against this.
So, when putting in offers, know that its an offer. It’s not a deal because you don’t want to get emotionally invested in a property that you might not be living to in the next 30 days.
You took the words out of my mouth: I’ve watched a lot of people walk away from the process because it’s too emotionally draining.
It really is. It’s a changing market. And for a lot of real estate professionals, it’s going to be challenging for them to go into this market. It will be a market where we have more an ability to negotiate again, because for the last few years, buyers didn’t negotiate. It’s been a tough market.
So right now, when we’re talking about negotiating and offers, just know that when you’re making an offer on a property… don’t get emotionally invested into that property until you’re past inspection period.
Let’s talk about inspections then!
Okay, so now your offer is accepted. Right. So, we have to go through a period of figuring out if we’re going to get inspections completed, if we’re going to ask for requests from those inspections, and then the lending process. Every state is different with their inspection periods and what has to happen with responses from buyers and sellers. 9 times out of 10, first-time homebuyers will have a home inspection. At this stage, you’re looking for key factors that could be deficient – what I mean is large items that could be in disrepair or need a huge amount of funds to repair in the near future. What’s most important are things like septic tanks, furnaces, roofing and those big ticket items. Make sure you ask the inspector why they feel something is near the end of its useful life.
How does the buyer get the inspection done?
Great question. And again, this is where you lean on the professional that’s in your corner and working with you. Every time you’re working with a professional, they’re going to have a recommendation (or two or three) for you for the professionals that you need down the line. In this instance, it’s the home inspector. Ask your real estate professional who they have used in the past that works with first time homebuyers or works with the type of property that you are purchasing. Then that inspector is going to really get into the home.
Before the inspector does their whole process, let them know what your big concerns are. You will want to ask the home inspector to keep an eye on certain things that you may have seen in your visits.
What are some tips that you can tell the listeners to look for when they are going through a house to think about the next step would be their inspection?
Just be aware of the surroundings. If you see that the septic cover is off, peeling paint if the property was built before 1978, windows that foggy might mean a seal is broke. Pay attention to things that you might not be aware of when you’re looking through property. Your agent is looking at those things. Ask your agent what they saw that you might not have.
What about now the appraisal?
The appraisal is going to be happening around the same time if not a little after the inspection. That’s something your lender will handle. They send the appraiser out and then the appraisal will come back either that it meets what you need for your lending purposes, or might be higher, which means you have instant equity in your property. Sometimes, it does come in a little bit lower. At that point you would then have to renegotiate or figure out a plan with that seller on how you want to handle that.
We did the inspections, we did the appraisals. What next?
A clear to close is the next thing you’re waiting for. It’s a lot of hurry up and wait at this point. Honestly, a lot of buying a home is rushing all the stuff at the front and waiting for closing.
So, what I would say is during that timeframe is do not buy anything.
Alright, so then we’re getting to the finish line. In general, how long are you finding that this process takes the first-time homebuyer?
Great question. A typical sale is 30 to 45 days. For first time homebuyers, I would say it’s probably going to be about the 45 to 60 day mark. 45 is where it should be, but there’s always variables with different kinds of programs.
Take me through the closing process.
Really that’s the easiest part. You sign a lot of paperwork- and it’s fun and exciting. You get keys to your property that you have just gone through a great process with.
Alright, so the good stuff: you got the keys, what happens after the closing?
You get the keys. Sometimes people close at the end of the month, on a Friday. If you’re closing later in the day, for you to take ownership or possession of the property, you have to have it recorded at the town or city hall. Some don’t have online processes – so someone has to take the paperwork down. So, all of that to say, I have a couple of tips. Try not to close at the end of the month – because a lot of other people are. If you’re closing towards the middle of the month, you’ll have more attention on your file. There’s not 20-30 people closing on the same day. The other thing is to close as early in the day as you can – that way you can get it recorded and get your keys and move into the property.
What are some key points that couples should be considering when exploring their first home purchase?
Educate yourself. One of the reasons that I have this book with me today is because it’s your first point of education.
Find your professional.
Go through the process and don’t get emotionally set on a property until you are clear to close. There is a full process that happens and you will find the right property for you.
What We Discussed
Meet Jen (1:07)
Advice for first time home buyers (4:35)
What not to do when buying a home (13:10)
What to look for during inspections (22:39)
Tips for closing (33:10)
Wrap-Up Question (39:02)
Links Mentioned in the Episode
Find Jen Bove: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
Check our Instagram and Facebook for specifics about our book giveaway! Valid for the week of this episode’s launch only.
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