Kate Hogan -Amherst, MA real estate, Hadley, MA real estate, Northampton, MA real estate
Kate Hogan - Amherst MA Realtor


The prospect of buying your first home is both exciting and nerve-wracking. On one hand, owning your own house is the final step of financial independence. You’re no longer accountable to a landlord and their rental agreement. On the other hand, buying a home is a huge financial decision that will determine where you live for the next several years.

As a first-time buyer, there’s a lot to learn about buying a house. You’ll often hear homeowners say, “I wish I knew that before buying this house.” So, in this article, we’re going to give you some common mistakes that first-time buyers make so you can have the best possible experience in the home buying process.  

1. Underestimating the costs

When first-time buyers get preapproved for a mortgage, they sometimes see this as permission to spend whatever amount they’re approved for. However, even after closing costs, there are a number of other expenses you’ll need to account for in your budget.

You’ll be responsible for maintenance, utilities, taxes, and repairing things when they get old. If all of your money is tied up just paying your mortgage and other bills, you won’t have anything left over to maintain your house.

Furthermore, living your life just to make your mortgage payments is draining. Instead, buy a house that gives you enough room to save for retirement, vacations, a family, or whatever else you see in your future.

2. Prequalify first

Before you start shopping for homes, make sure you meet some basic prerequisites. You’ll need a solid credit score, steady income history, and money saved for a down payment. You might set yourself up for disappointment looking at homes that are outside of your spending limit if you don’t get prequalified first.

3. This probably isn’t your last home

While it’s okay to dream about the future, don’t set unrealistic expectations for your first home. You can always upgrade later on, and building equity in your first home is a good way to help you do that.

4. Don’t get too attached to your “dream home”

So, you’ve been shopping around for a few weeks and finally found the perfect house. If everything goes well your offer could get accepted. But if it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. There are constantly new houses appearing on the market, and there’s a good chance you’ll like one even more than this one.

5. Don’t waive contingencies without good reason

Contingencies are there to protect you. They might seem like a way to needlessly complicate a contract. Or, you might think that waiving them makes you look better in the eyes of the seller. However, both sellers and their agents know that contingencies serve an important purpose.

The three main contingencies you’ll want when buying a home are an appraisal contingency, financing contingency, and an inspection contingency. Unless you’re buying under special circumstances, you’ll want to keep all three in your contract. 


When you hear about xeriscaping, you might envision a dirt or sand yard with more boulders than actual greenery and color. You now know about a few ornamental kinds of grass you can use to set off your yard and add greenery. Depriving yourself of flowers is not necessary either to create a beautiful, eco-friendly yard. Here are a few fabulous flowering plants to use in your xeriscape.

African Iris — After it reaches stable growth this beautiful perennial plant only requires occasional water. Enjoy white blossoms with hints of yellow and bluish-purple from Spring all the way through the Fall with minimal maintenance. 

Lantana — An evergreen shrub, Lantana is a fast-growing plant that blooms throughout all seasons in most areas. Even if you live in a climate experiencing frost, your Lantana will produce gorgeous orange and red blossoms during the Spring and Summer months. This plant requires little water once it's up and running if you do experience extreme heat in the summertime, up your watering some to keep your blossoms going year-round. 

Marigold — This vibrant flower is a remarkable and affordable annual to add to your drought-tolerant landscape. It grows quickly, has minimal watering needs and thrives in full sun. The plant is tough enough to survive extreme heat, and the bright orange blossoms bring life to your garden through Summer and Fall. Bonus — if you enjoy butterflies this plant is for you. Turn your xeriscape into a butterfly garden by attracting them with marigold blossoms. 

Bougainvillea — This flowering plant comes in many varieties offering different colors and sizes. Bougainvillea plants proliferate and burst with flowers year-round. You can use them in many ways making them a good option for different home types. They are great for ground cover; you can climb them up a trellis or drape them over your roof or balcony. This plant requires little water and will tell you so! If it stops flowering, you're overwatering it — the perfect flowering plant for drought climates.

Lavender — Brought to us from the Mediterranean lavender is a beautiful and sturdy plant that is fairly drought tolerant. Its toughness and varieties make it an excellent option for adding green to your xeriscape year-round and a splash of purple color through your warm summer months. English lavender grows best in colder northern climates, while French and Spanish lavenders grow best in hot southern environments. Lavender loves sunlight and takes at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Soak your lavender plant to establish its roots then manage with moderate watering and enjoy purple blossoms for several years. 

Purple Sage — Desert purple sage is native to western climates and is very well suited to difficult growing areas with high heat and drought. This evergreen shrub blooms abundantly from Spring through Fall. Delight yourself and your garden with these fast-growing bluish-purple flowers with minimal watering once established.

Wildflowers — Wildflowers are a must add for any garden but are especially useful in your xeriscape. Choose wildflowers native to your area. If you select the right seeds, they will grow well in your high heat and drought-prone environment. Before purchasing make sure you research which wildflowers grow best in your area. If you ensure you spread the right seeds, you'll enjoy a beautiful and complex coloring of wildflowers in your garden.

Now your garden is full and blossoming while remaining eco and wallet-friendly. For more texture and unique coloring to pair with your blooms take a look at some tremendous succulent options for your xeriscape.


Most Americans dream of owning their own home. The size of that pictured house is often spacious. As the housing market gets tighter, the prices of homes go up. The bigger the home you wish to buy, the larger the price tag. Keep in mind that the bigger the house you buy is, the more everything else will cost. That means you have to look deep into your budget and far beyond the list price of a home to understand what you have to work with financially. Some things that a more prominent home might bring are:


Higher utility bills due to more space that you have to heat and cool

Increased property tax

Higher insurance premiums

More expensive repairs

More expensive renovations

Bigger yard to landscape


These are all additional costs that you should consider before you take the plunge to buy a larger home. The longer you live in the house, the more these expenses can add up. Many things like flooring, carpet, concrete, and roofing materials are priced by the square foot. While living large can be a great decision, the additional expenses can really add up.  


If You Have Kids, Reconsider


Raising children is expensive. While you may want your child to have a large room and a lot of amenities right inside their home, there are so many other things that kids need. Consider your child’s hobbies. How much of your budget do you devote to those? Do your kids hope to attend college? How much extra money in your budget do you have for vacations and other activities that you may want to do as a family? Buying a bigger house could mean that you have less money in your budget for these things. Understand all the ways that you need to stretch your money before you have your eyes set on a larger home. 


Consider The Rest Of Your Needs


A more massive home means a more substantial monthly mortgage payment. That leaves less for you to save for things like retirement, rainy day funds, and other financial goals. Don’t let the fact that you have your eyes set on a big house shadow the rest of your life and your needs. A large part of buying a home is planning ahead. It will be a smart decision all around for you and your family to buy a home that’s affordable.            


Buying a larger home fulfills a dream for many homebuyers, but don’t let that idea become a singular goal.       



This Single-Family in Granby, MA recently sold for $207,000. This Bungalow style home was sold by Kate Hogan - Sawicki Real Estate.


17 Lyn Drive, Granby, MA 01033

Single-Family

$210,000
Price
$207,000
Sale Price

6
Rooms
3
Beds
1
Baths
Fabulous 3 bedroom bungalow in a wonderful location on a dead-end street is ready for its new family! There is a flowing open floor plan from the sunny living room and spacious dining room that all have refinished hardwoods on the first floor and new floors in the 3rd upstairs studio style bedroom with 2 walk-in closets. Completely updated kitchen and bath with all new plumbing in 2016. 2 first floor bedrooms make single floor living very convenient. An enclosed mudroom attaches the house to the garage and makes for a great spot to put all your outdoor gear. The backyard is fenced in overlooking the Bachelor Brook Reservoir. This property is move in ready!

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If you have always wanted to own a second home in the mountains, near the beach or just about anywhere else, now may be the ideal time to transform your dream into a reality. The housing market offers many opportunities for property buyers – even those who already own a residence. If you understand what it takes to navigate the homebuying journey, you could quickly and effortlessly purchase a second house that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Ultimately, there are lots of things you can do to streamline your search for a second residence, such as:

1. Get Your Finances in Order

If you still have a mortgage on your current residence, there is no need to stress. In fact, by consulting with a mortgage specialist, you can evaluate your home financing options as you prepare to search for a second house.

Mortgage specialists are available at banks and credit unions, and they understand the ins and outs of home financing. Thus, mortgage specialists can help you analyze your current mortgage, establish a homebuying budget and determine the optimal financing option for a second house.

Of course, if your current house's mortgage is paid in full, mortgage specialists can still help you get ready to launch a search for a second residence. If you collaborate with mortgage specialists, you can get the help you need to immediately obtain financing to acquire a second house.

2. Narrow Your Home Search

You know you want to buy a second house – now, you just need to hone your house search based on your individual needs. If you focus on residences in a select group of cities and towns, you may quickly discover a wonderful house that you can enjoy for years to come.

As you consider potential cities and towns where you want to purchase a second home, think about your short- and long-term goals, too. By doing so, you can boost the likelihood of finding a second house that will suit you perfectly both now and in the future.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

For those who want to acquire a second home sooner rather than later, hiring a real estate agent is a must. Because if you have a friendly, knowledgeable real estate agent at your side, you can minimize the risk of encountering roadblocks that otherwise could slow down your homebuying journey.

A real estate agent is happy to teach you about the housing market in your preferred cities and towns. Plus, he or she can offer expert recommendations about how much to offer to pay for a residence you want to acquire. And if you have concerns or questions as you pursue a second home, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them right away.

Take the guesswork out of finding and purchasing a second residence – use the aforementioned tips, and you could speed up your search for a second house.




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