Judy Korzenowski - BHHS Commonwealth | Newton, MA Real Estate, Brookline, MA Real Estate


First-time homebuyers often gravitate to newly-built homes, and for good reason. In a new build, the buyer often gets to choose finishes, fixtures, and flooring. Newer homes have higher energy-efficiency standards and meet up-to-date codes. Most of all, no one else lived there before you. It’s all virgin territory.

Advantages of new builds
Some new builds offer even more customization, letting the buyer participate in design choices, make minor layout changes, and upgrades to appliances, faucets, backsplashes, and lighting.

Another advantage to a newly built home is that no one else has lived in it. This may be especially important to those with pet allergies or other sensitivities. You already know that no dog or cat dander is hiding in the ducts or illness-triggering spice lurks in the range hood.

Often, new homes come with warranties—ranging as high as ten years— providing protection for expensive appliances such as air-conditioning and heating units, water heaters and spa tubs.

Some disadvantages
With all there is to love in a new build, there are a few disadvantages to consider when making your choice.

  • Ongoing construction: if you’re an early buyer in a new development, expect an impact from dust and noise from other homes under construction. Be aware of debris and hazards on new streets from dropped roofing nails to spilled gravel and traffic slowdowns from construction trucks and trailers delivering building supplies and equipment.
  • Fewer neighbors: in a newly developed neighborhood, you might not have neighbors for a while.
  • Limited services: when a whole area is under development, you may need to drive farther to shop, find fuel, or get to basic services like urgent care facilities.
  • Increased assessments: some communities have extra assessments and taxes on developing neighborhoods to repay the city for water and sewer lines, streets and street lights and other city services.
  • Limited landscaping and greenspace: while under development, common-area landscaping, parks, and playgrounds may need to wait for completion of infrastructure, streets, and other necessities. Many new developments have no mature trees or other advanced greenery, so the “feel” is completely different from a mature neighborhood.
  • Schools and libraries may be farther: until the new development needs its own school, the nearest school may be some distance away.
  • Lifestyle limits: restaurants, nightlife, and cultural events may be more difficult to get to.

Before deciding if a new home works for you, talk to your real estate professional about all your options.


Ready to purchase your dream home? Before you finalize a home purchase, it may be worthwhile to schedule a home appraisal.

With a home appraisal, a property expert will examine a residence both inside and out. The home appraiser then will offer a property valuation.

In some instances, a home offer may be appraisal-contingent. And if the home appraisal valuation falls below the amount of a buyer's offer, the buyer may request a renegotiated price.

A home appraisal may prove to be an important part of the homebuying process. As such, it is paramount for homebuyers to understand what an appraisal is all about and determine whether to conduct an appraisal.

To better understand home appraisals, let's take a look at three home appraisal facts that every homebuyer needs to consider.

1. An appraiser's valuation is his or her opinion of what a residence is worth.

Typically, a home appraiser will use a broad assortment of housing market data as part of a home assessment. The appraiser also will look closely at a residence as part of the home evaluation process.

Although a home appraisal is based on housing market data and a home assessment, it is essential to note that a home valuation is an appraiser's opinion. Therefore, two home appraisers may examine the same housing market data and the same house and come up with two different home valuations.

2. The homes in a neighborhood may affect the valuation of a residence.

Believe it or not, a home's value may be impacted by those around it. Thus, if you intend to buy a home, it often pays to evaluate the neighborhood to better understand whether a house's value will decline, stay the same or increase over time.

Furthermore, what you spend to improve a house is unlikely to raise a house's value proportionately. And if you spend $20,000 on home improvements, there are no guarantees that these home improvements will add $20,000 to a home's valuation.

3. A home appraisal and a home inspection are two very different things.

A home inspection often is considered a must-have during the homebuying process, and perhaps it is easy to understand why.

During a home inspection, a property expert will ensure there are no structural issues with a home and identify any problem areas. Then, a homebuyer can move forward with a home purchase, rescind a home offer or submit a counter proposal based on a home inspection report.

On the other hand, a home appraisal enables a property expert to evaluate the house in its current state. A home appraiser will compare and contrast a home in relation to others in the area and offer a valuation.

If you need help determining whether to conduct a home appraisal, a real estate agent is happy to assist you. With a real estate agent at your side, you can determine whether to set up a home appraisal prior to finalizing a home purchase.


Many factors come into play when determining whether you can afford to buy a house. Since the monthly rent for an apartment is often close to what a mortgage payment would be, you can't help but wonder if your rent money would be better spent building equity in your own home.

While this is often the case, first-time home buyers often underestimate or overlook expenses that accompany home ownership. Although a mortgage broker or bank loan officer can help you calculate the maximum mortgage you can afford, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you weigh your options.

  • Create a detailed budget. By taking the time to figure out how your income stacks up to your monthly expenses, you can get a clearer picture of your financial situation. If you have a good credit score, a positive monthly cash flow, and enough funds to pay closing costs and a down payment, then home ownership may be a viable option. (Your credit score, which you can obtain once a year for free from the three main credit reporting companies, will have a major impact on both your interest rate and your monthly mortgage payments.)
  • Factor in other expenses: Figuring out your current budget is relatively easy, but predicting your future budget as a homeowner can be a lot more challenging. A big part of the equation will depend on the amount of property taxes and school taxes that will be tacked on to your mortgage costs. A real estate agent can provide you with those figures, as well as other information you need to calculate how affordable it would be to live in a particular house. They have access to a wide range of relevant information, such as utility expenses, water bills, and homeowner association fees (if there are any). Since property taxes sometimes cover the cost of services like garbage and yard waste collection, you may not have to factor in those items into your projected budget. Your real estate agent can help you come up with a rough estimate of home maintenance costs -- especially if they're familiar with the history of the home you're considering buying. As the process moves forward, a property inspector can provide you with more details about the condition of the home and whether any costly repairs are likely to be needed soon.
  • Home maintenance and furnishing costs: Other possible expenses to consider when estimating the cost of home ownership include yard maintenance, landscaping, HVAC service calls, electrician services, plumbing repairs, and homeowners' insurance. If you're a first-time home owner, there's also a good chance you'll need to buy some furniture to fill out those additional rooms!
  • Buying your first home definitely takes a lot of planning, budgeting, and research, but the rewards of owning your own home will more than justify the effort!

    The homebuying journey should be fast and seamless, but problems may arise that prevent you from accomplishing your desired goals. For example, if a buyer with a poor credit score fails to get financing before submitting an offer to purchase a house, this individual may struggle to acquire his or her dream residence. Or, if a buyer fails to evaluate various housing market data, he or she may miss out on opportunities to purchase the right house at an affordable price.

    There is no need to worry about homebuying crises. Lucky for you, we're here to guide you along the homebuying journey and ensure you can mitigate problems that otherwise may make it difficult for you to buy your dream house.

    Avoid homebuying crises – here are three tips to help you minimize the risk of encountering problems during the homebuying journey.

    1. Learn About the Local Housing Market

    The housing market is complex, regardless of whether you are pursuing residences in small towns or big cities. Fortunately, plenty of housing market data is available to help you understand real estate patterns and trends. This information can help you map out your homebuying journey based on the current housing market's conditions.

    Typically, it helps to look at the prices of recently sold houses in your preferred cities and towns. This information highlights whether house sellers are receiving offers at or above their initial asking prices and may help you differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's one.

    You also should examine the prices of available houses that match your homebuying criteria. That way, you can hone your home search and accelerate the homebuying journey.

    2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

    Believe it or not, it usually does not take long for a homebuyer to get pre-approved for a mortgage. In fact, banks and credit unions can quickly teach you about different home financing options and ensure you can make an informed mortgage decision.

    If you receive pre-approval for a mortgage, you can enter the housing market with a budget. Then, when you discover your dream house, you can submit an offer to purchase with home financing in hand.

    3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

    A real estate agent is a must-hire, especially if you want to limit the risk of potential crises during the homebuying journey. With a real estate agent at your side, you can identify homebuying problems and resolve these issues before they escalate.

    Generally, a real estate agent will support you at each stage of the homebuying journey. He or she first will learn about you and your homebuying goals. Then, a real estate agent will create a personalized homebuying strategy to help you accomplish the optimal results. And if you have concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent is happy to respond to them.

    Prevent homebuying crises – use the aforementioned tips, and you can increase the likelihood of a successful homebuying experience.


    Believe it or not, you don't need to be a homebuying expert to score a great deal on your dream residence. In fact, there are many things you can do to find and acquire a house that won't force you to break your budget, and these include:

    1. Shop Around

    When it comes to conducting a home search, it generally is a good idea to be thorough. If you search for residences in a variety of cities and towns, you can boost the likelihood of finding a home that you can afford.

    Also, it is important to remember that scoring a great deal on a residence usually requires hard work and patience. If you perform lots of housing market research, you can gain deep insights into the real estate sector. You then may be able to use housing market insights to find ways to speed up the process of locating and purchasing your ideal home.

    2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

    If you have a mortgage in hand when you start your home search, you will be better equipped than other buyers to pounce at the opportunity to acquire a budget-friendly home.

    Typically, it won't take long to get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you meet with myriad banks and credit unions, you can explore all of your home financing options. Then, you can select a mortgage and perform a home search with a budget at your disposal.

    If you have questions about a mortgage, there is no need to worry, either. Banks and credit unions employ courteous, knowledgeable mortgage specialists who are happy to respond to your home financing queries. Therefore, these specialists can help you make an informed mortgage selection.

    3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

    A real estate agent is a homebuying professional who will help you find a terrific house at an affordable price – without exception. He or she knows what it takes to perform an in-depth home search, and as such, will take the guesswork out of acquiring your dream residence.

    In addition, a real estate agent offers comprehensive homebuying insights you may struggle to obtain elsewhere. If you are unsure about where to search for a home, for example, a real estate agent can help you hone your homebuying criteria. Or, if you are uncertain about how much to offer to acquire your dream residence, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive homebuying proposal.

    A real estate agent is available to assist you in any way possible as you navigate the homebuying journey, too. That way, you can get the help you need to seamlessly go from homebuyer to homeowner.

    For those who want to purchase a first-rate house at an economical price, it helps to prepare for the homebuying journey. By using the aforementioned tips, you can move quickly to find a home that falls in line with your finances. As a result, you could accelerate your home search and acquire your ideal residence in no time at all.




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