Straight talk: What advice do you have for first-time homebuyers?


Vera Thornton Della Russo, Hob Knob Realty

“Determine what you can afford, including closing costs, monthly mortgage payments, and insurance. It is recommended that you spend no more than 2 percent of your income on housing costs. Most local banks have a mortgage calculator on their websites, and Vineyard banks are lending mortgage money at good rates. Then have your broker show you appropriate properties. Don’t wait! The market is picking up and procrastinating is not advisable.”

Bill LeRoyer, Harborside Realty:

“Meet with a local lender and get pre-qualified before you start looking. Having this documentation in hand prior to putting an offer in on a property shows the seller that you are qualified to purchase their home. The seller will be more likely to consider your offer and in some cases, might enable the buyer to negotiate a better sales price.”

Alan Schweikert, Ocean Park Realty

“My advice to first-time home buyers is to prepare yourself; first, by making sure that you meet with a bank and get pre-approved for a specific amount so that you know how much you can afford, which will determine the price of the house that you can pursue; secondly, prepare yourself to act quickly when you find something you like.

Many first-time home buyers are qualified for homes that come for sale through the foreclosure process and are bank-owned. When bank-owned homes come on the market they get a lot of quick attention due to their good price. Many first-time home buyers wait too long to make an offer and ultimately lose out on the house.

You must trust your instincts and your buyer’s agent to protect you in a transaction so that you can pull the trigger and make the deal… If you see a house that you like, there is at least one or more people who like it too.”

Art Smadbeck, Priestley Smadbeck & Mone

“Do your homework. Look at everything in your price range and get a good feel for the market. See your banker to get pre-qualified for the amount of mortgage financing you will need to buy in your price range. And once you feel confident in your grasp of the values, don’t be afraid to make offers and negotiate with sellers.”

Susan Cahoon, Homes on Martha’s Vineyard

“Get yourself pre-approved and start looking. A good mortgage broker/banker can advise you on any issues that may exist on your credit and how to make improvements.

There is a lot of home inventory right now and mortgage rates continue to be low. There are some first-time homebuyer mortgage packages available as well — investigate! Know the market, and your limitations, so that you feel comfortable (and excited) about your new home purchase. A real estate professional is essential in working through all the steps with you.”

Lesley Heidt and Courtney Marek, Sandpiper Realty

“Now is an excellent time to buy — interest rates continue to be very advantageous and prices are at a level where a first-time buyer can enter the market. It’s very important to keep expectations in check – no home is perfect. And expect to put in some elbow grease: it will pay off in the future.”