Buying Smart the First Time: 5 Essentials for First Time Home Buyers

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Charlotte, NC. The $8000 tax credit makes buying a home for the first time very attractive, but in today’s market, a buyer recently asked, “How do I Buy Smart?” If you think it more than “buying low”, you are right. These 5 keys to successful home buying help to insure your happiness, which will lead you to want to stay, and lower your overall risk enormously.GiftCard-Woman

The opportunity is largehome prices are at 2003 levels, interest rates at all time lows, but…should you buy now? It  makes sense if, and only if, you have a good job, a down payment, good credit, and you buy smart.

These 5 Essentials are from a lifetime of buying and selling homes.  I’ve made mistakes in almost every category below- you don’t have to!

5 Keys to Home Buying Success in Today’s Market

1. Buy your home for the long term and plan to stay 5 years or longer.

The longer you stay, the lower the risk in your investment. I know it is impossible to predict the future, but think about it… could you be happy there for five years? More possibly?  You get tax savings every year, a place of your own,  and it just makes sense you have more time to let your home appreciate, and appreciation WILL come back in Charlotte before too long.

2. Buy a home in a community with  “Value- Anchor(s)”

What are Value-Anchors? Anything that sets a particular set of homes apart to a large number of potential purchasers. Location is a major value-anchor,  in Charlotte Myers Park, Southpark, these names have cache… not coincidentally they are closer to uptown. Waterfront, waterview, golf course homes, these are all homes that have attracted, and will continue to attract a particular set of buyers.

The communities above are higher priced- you are starting out, maybe you can’t afford these, then look for other value anchors, for example: communities with great natural beauty, communities with loads of amenities, communities with great schools, though this can change over 10 years,  look for a value anchor in every house or community. Close to town works almost anywhere. Cul de sac’s are usually preferred. Other community anchors might be high quality amenities, larger lots (than the neighbors) , great parks or greenways nearby, unusually convenient neighborhood, no homes behind the house,  etc. There are too many to list, but I always ask, what is the value anchor, or value proposition for this home and community?

3. Buy Home Quality over Quantity

Smaller, well cared for home with custom features are more and more preferred to a big plain box, and the dramatic shift in the last year is towards smaller homes. At any price point, look for the home with the most features, with attention to the feature that last. Smaller homes also cost less to run each month, and the savings over 5 years will be considerable.

4. Finance with 30 year fixed.

Current 30 year fixed rates are around  5%, and what a difference that makes. I bought my first home , a townhome, when interest rates were over 11%!  I made 45K per year and qualified for an $85,000 home!  Today, the same $45K could buy a home, with a 5% down payment, a $175,000 single family  with similar $1,000/mo payments to my first 11% loan. (Depending on down payment, taxes , HOA fees etc)

5. Shop for the right community, the right deal, and then the particular house

in that order, to insure you are most likely to be happy with your purchase.  The right deal is subjective, but in Charlotte, I think it is a solid 7-10% below today’s market value. This is the market value for your particular home- not just an average cost per square foot. Each neighborhood has a range based on size and condition-compare apples to apples to get today’s market value. You may not get your first choice, but the “buy smart” option says pick several you are interested in, and let the best deal win.

You can make changes to the house to make it more to your liking, but if it is in a great community you want to live in, and you got it at a great price, then you should sleep soundly at night, and that is something you can build on.

Avoid the emotional house buy — you know the one you see it in a brochure, run out to see it and its beautiful…yes it is further out, alot further out, than you thought. No the area isn’t scenic-just flat space… you get the idea.


Do be sure and claim the $8000 Federal Tax Credit if you purchase by November 30, 2009, it is FREE money. File Form 5805 with your next return, or amended Federal return and the 10% credit,  $8,000 if above an $80,000 home, your check will soon be on its way.

Skilled Buyer Agents with Smart Buyers make great deals happen!

We provide detailed analysis prior to all offers, and take a lot of the guess work out.  Plus, we know where the steals and deals are! The McDonald Team 704-351-1519  Search for Charlotte Homes

First Time Buyer Search for Homes

Terry McDonald

Terry McDonald

I am the owner and operator of and was inspired to create this website when I moved my young family of 6 down to Charlotte from the northeast, now over 20 years ago. Charlotte quickly became home to us and I wanted to create a website that would help individuals and families considering a move to Charlotte. I'm also the owner of The McDonald Group at eXp Realty (my day job) and have helped hundreds of folks relocate to Charlotte over the years.

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So everybody’s heard that Atlanta calls itself the “capitol” of the New South. Ok, I’ll give them that. But if Atlanta is the “capitol”, then Charlotte is the heart of the New South. Charlotte is the 20th largest city

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