Sandee Smith: Best strategies for first-time buyers



One of the most important purchases in our lifetime is buying a home. Therefore, you definitely want to be prepared, especially if you are a first-time buyer. To assist you with your preparation, here are five helpful strategies:

Know Your Credit Score

When applying for a mortgage, your credit will be one of the key factors determining whether you are approved or not. Additionally, it will determine your interest rate for the next several years. Check your credit reports and make sure to dispute any errors that might be damaging your overall score. Also, to keep your score from dipping after you apply for a mortgage, avoid opening any new credit accounts, such as a credit card or car loan, until your house closes.

Determine How Much You Can Afford

A general rule of thumb is that your mortgage payment should not exceed 25 percent of your monthly net income, including your property taxes and homeowners insurance. Check-out the free website: to determine how much you can afford.

Check-out Programs for First-Time Buyers

There are many national and local first-time home buyer programs. For example, The Nevada Rural Housing Authority’s Home At Last program offers many different incentives including down payment assistance grants, affordable low-interest loans, and mortgage tax credits. To find out more about programs available through the Nevada Rural Housing Authority, log onto: Additionally, the Nevada Housing Division also offers an array of homebuying programs. You can check-out their housing opportunities at

Research Buying vs. Renting in Your Area

In most areas, buying becomes a better deal than renting after only three years of residence. This is especially true in areas like ours, where the rental market is tight and rents are continuing to rise steadily. Plus, owning a home can provide you with significant tax savings and a stable living environment.

Partner with a Skilled Realtor

A skilled buyer’s agent will assist you in locating a home that best meets your needs. He or she will help negotiate the best price for the home based on current market values, and see you through all the necessary inspections and appraisals. Most importantly, a professional Realtor potentially can save you thousands of dollars on the home of your choice.

If you need assistance finding a real estate-related professional in our area, contact the Sierra Nevada Realtors at 775-885-7200 or Sierra Nevada Realtors is the voice of real estate in Carson City and the surrounding areas. They are committed to building better communities throughout the region, and participating in the political process to protect the industry as well as private property rights.

Sandee Smith is president of the Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors and a realtor with Charles Kitchen Realty in Carson City. With more than 25 years of experience in sales, lending and home staging, her earned designations include Certified Residential Specialist, Seniors Real Estate Specialist, Accredited Buyer’s Representative, and Certified Negotiating Expert. She welcomes real estate questions and can be reached at 775-250-6672 or


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