Jim Sheridan | Burlington Real Estate, Billerica Real Estate, Reading Real Estate


For first-time homebuyers, going from property buyer to property owner may seem virtually impossible. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of buying a home.

Now, let's take a look at three questions that every first-time homebuyer needs to consider:

1. What is my "dream" residence?

One first-time homebuyer's definition of a "dream" residence may differ from another's. As such, you should consider what you'd like to find in a dream house before you begin your real estate search.

Creating a checklist of "must-haves" and "wants" in your house often serves as a great starting point for first-time homebuyers. This checklist will enable homebuyers to consider what they'd like to find in a dream home and plan accordingly.

Also, it is important to establish realistic expectations before you kick off a home search.

Many terrific houses are available in cities and towns nationwide, but no home is likely to have every feature that you desire in a dream residence.

Therefore, if you establish realistic expectations for your home search, you can avoid potential let-downs as you explore a broad array of high-quality houses.

2. How will I pay for a home?

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is vital for a first-time homebuyer, and for good reason. With pre-approval for a mortgage, you'll know what you can afford to spend on a home before you enter the real estate market.

Many banks and credit unions are happy to meet with you to discuss your mortgage options. These lenders can outline the differences between adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages, help you assess your credit score and ensure you can make an informed mortgage decision.

Furthermore, lenders can answer any mortgage questions that you may have. They can help you evaluate your current financial situation and enable you to obtain a mortgage that won't force you to revamp your day-to-day budget.

3. How do I begin searching for a house?

Beginning a home search is easy, particularly for first-time homebuyers who work with expert real estate agents.

An expert real estate agent understands what it takes to find a wonderful house at a budget-friendly price. In fact, he or she will do everything possible to help you navigate the housing market quickly and effortlessly.

Typically, an expert real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and submit home offers on your behalf. This housing market professional also will offer honest, unbiased recommendations throughout the homebuying journey to help you select a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.

When it comes to exploring the housing market, there is no need to work alone. Fortunately, you can hire an expert real estate agent who can help you get the best results possible during the homebuying journey.

Want to acquire your first home? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can move one step closer to owning a top-notch house.


A home inspection is a crucial part of the homebuying process. At this point, a home inspector will walk through a house with you and examine the property inside and out. If a home inspector identifies underlying problems with a residence, these issues could put your purchase in jeopardy. On the other hand, if a home inspection reveals that there are no major problems with a residence, you may feel comfortable proceeding with a purchase.

Ultimately, how a homebuyer approaches a property inspection can have far-flung effects. For those who want to achieve the best-possible home inspection results, we're here to help you get ready for a house inspection.

Let's take a look at three tips to ensure you know exactly how to approach a house inspection.

1. Prepare for the Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios

Regardless of how a home inspection turns out, you need to be ready. That way, you'll have a plan in place to act quickly, even in the worst-case scenario.

In the best-case scenario after a house inspection, you likely will take a step forward in your quest to complete a home purchase. Conversely, in the worst-case scenario following a home inspection, you may rescind your offer to purchase a house and reenter the real estate market.

It also is important to remember that you can always walk away from a house sale if an inspection reveals there are significant problems with a residence. For a homebuyer, it is paramount to feel comfortable with a house after an inspection. If a home raises lots of red flags during an inspection, a buyer should have no trouble removing his or her offer to purchase a house.

2. Ask Plenty of Questions

A home inspector is a property expert who can provide insights into the condition of a residence. Thus, you should rely on this property expert as much as possible.

Don't hesitate to discuss a home with an inspector. Because if you ask lots of questions during a home inspection, you may be able to receive comprehensive property insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere.

3. Analyze the Inspection Results Closely

Following a home inspection, you'll receive a report that details a property inspector's findings. Review this report closely, and if you have follow-up questions about it, reach out to the inspector that provided the report.

Lastly, as you look for ways to streamline the homebuying journey, you should work with a knowledgeable real estate agent. This housing market professional can put you in touch with the top home inspectors in your city or town. Plus, if you want to request home repairs or a reduced price on a house after an inspection, a real estate agent will negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf.

Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent provides at other points in the homebuying journey, either. If you ever have concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent will respond to them at your convenience.

Prepare for a home inspection, and you can use this evaluation to gain the insights you need to make an informed homebuying decision.


Going through the process of applying for a mortgage only for your application to get denied can be a frustrating and confusing time. If you’re hoping to buy your own home in the near future, it’s vital to secure financing or you risk missing out on a home that you may have been depending on getting.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about what happens when your mortgage application is denied and what you can do to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

Determine the Cause of Denial

If your application is denied, priority number one needs to be to understand what happened. Since lenders are required to provide denied applicants with a letter explaining why they were denied, this just means reading the letter and making sure you understand all of the reasons listed.

There are a few common reasons that an application may be denied. Some of them are simple fixes, while others might require time and effort on your part that may delay your house hunt for a while.

One issue that many mortgage applicants have to handle is when their employer won’t provide proof of income to a mortgage lender. Since income verification is vital to the mortgage application process, it’s important to make sure you can provide all of your income details from the last 2 years to the lender.

Sometimes there are issues with contacting employers, such as when your former place of employment goes out of business. Or, you may be a freelance or contract worker with atypical forms of income verification. Regardless, make sure you are clear with your loan officer regarding your employment history.

Other common causes for denial of an application include problems with your down payment (such as not meeting the required down payment amount) and credit history issues, such as having a lower score than you thought.

Credit score lower than expected

It’s not uncommon for a lender to run a credit check and come up with a score that is lower than you anticipated. Since scores change on a monthly basis, and since there are differences between the scores provided by the three major credit bureaus, you might find that your lender found a score slightly lower than what thought.

If the score is drastically different, however, this could be a sign of two things. First, make sure that you haven’t recently made multiple credit inquiries (such as applying to several lenders who perform credit checks) or by opening new credit cards or loans. These inquiries temporarily lower your credit score.

If you haven’t recently made any inquiries (other than applying for a mortgage with your lender of choice), then it’s a good idea to get a detailed credit report and scrutinize it for errors. Inaccuracies on your credit report can be disputed and resolved and can give your score the boost you need to be competitive on your mortgage application.  

Choosing a different lender

While most lenders use similar criteria in determining your borrowing eligibility, there are some differences between lenders.

For example, some lenders might take on more risk by lending to someone with a lower credit score. However, they will also likely require a higher interest rate in exchange for the added risk they’ve acquired.


Now that you know your options for what to do when an application is denied, you’re well-equipped to start tackling the issue and getting back on track to becoming a homeowner.


The decision to buy a house may be one of the biggest choices that you make in your lifetime. As such, a potential home purchase should be fully evaluated to ensure you can achieve the best-possible results during the homebuying journey.

Furthermore, it may be beneficial to discuss your homebuying plans with family members, friends and other loved ones. There are many reasons why you may want to share your homebuying plans with loved ones, and these reasons include:

1. You can gain homebuying insights that you might struggle to obtain elsewhere.

Loved ones frequently are happy to share their homebuying insights with you. Thus, if you keep loved ones up to date about your homebuying plans, you may be able to gain comprehensive real estate insights that you won't find anywhere else.

Let's not forget about the past homebuying experiences of loved ones, either. If a loved one had a positive or negative homebuying experience, you may be able to learn lessons from this event that could help you navigate the homebuying journey.

2. You can look at the big picture.

Oftentimes, the temptation to rush through the homebuying process can be overwhelming, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. If you consult with loved ones, however, you can slow down and look at the big picture as you prepare to pursue your dream residence.

Loved ones are unafraid to be honest, especially when it comes to a life-changing decision like buying a house. Therefore, if you reach out to loved ones before you enter the housing market, you can assess your short- and long-term plans and map out your homebuying journey accordingly.

3. You can get the help you need to succeed.

No one should be forced to pursue a house on their own. Lucky for you, loved ones are available who can help you discover your ideal residence in no time at all.

Sharing your homebuying plans with loved ones may enable you to get plenty of support throughout the homebuying journey. Plus, if you ever have concerns or questions as you pursue your dream house, loved ones are ready to assist you in any way possible.

As you prepare to embark on a home search, you may want to consult with a real estate agent too. In fact, a real estate agent will ensure you can enjoy a seamless homebuying experience, regardless of where you want to live.

Typically, a real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you informed about new residences as they become available and help you submit offers on houses. This housing market professional also will negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf, guaranteeing that you can get the best price on any home, at any time.

Ready to kick off a successful home search? Connect with loved ones – and a real estate agent – and you can get the assistance that you need to find your dream house.



A mortgage pre-approval can be a valuable tool for understanding how much you can afford to spend on purchasing a home. It can also make you seem much more attractive to sellers and help to identify any potential problems that may make it difficult to get a loan. In fact, many lenders claim that if a buyer isn’t pre-approved for a mortgage, they will have a difficult time navigating the real estate market. But what does pre-approval really mean?

What is a Mortgage Pre-Approval?

While it can sound like you’ve got a sure thing locked in when you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, being pre-approved doesn’t promise that you’ll be able to secure a loan for the home that you want to purchase. A mortgage pre-approval simply means that a loan officer has reviewed your finances and decided how much money you're allocated to borrow, what you should be able to pay each month towards your mortgage and what your interest rate will be.

Once, you’ve been pre-approved by a lender, you will get a letter that can be shown to sellers. This letter indicates that you’ve already established a working relationship with a lender. This helps to give sellers peace of mind in knowing that you’re serious about putting in an offer on their home, and they don’t have to risk wasting time with a buyer who isn’t serious.

What Are the Benefits of Getting a Pre-Approval?

A pre-approval doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a mortgage but it does offer a few key advantages during your search for the ideal home. It helps to give you confidence while looking at potential properties, as you look at homes that are within your budget. There’s no need to fall in love with a home that you can’t afford. Additionally, it establishes credibility as a buyer, showing that you have your finances under control and can help to put you on the fast-track to closing once you’ve found the perfect home.

Are Pre-Approval & Pre-Qualified the Same Thing?

Unfortunately, no. These two similar real estate terms are not interchangeable. When you are pre-qualified for a mortgage, this indicates that you have given your lender information regarding your income, debts and assets. Without doing further research, the lender then tells you that you should qualify for a certain mortgage. Pre-approval is a much more in-depth process, requiring your lender to verify the financial information provided by pulling your credit history, as well as verifying your income and assets.




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