This month’s winner randomly chosen among the submissions is Karen Shapiro of Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty. Congratulations!

I think the most important tip I give to first time home buyers is to sit down and make a budget and include services such as pest control, HOA Fees, Yard Service, pool service, etc.

Decide what their lifestyle requires to maintain the home and what their budget allows. Then add a budget line for future home repairs and maintenance and put at least $50 from every pay check into its own savings account that is specifically for repairs, updates and maintenance for the home.

Houses are much like cars, they need regular maintenance, they need paint jobs, they need tune ups and the houses will sell for faster and for more money if they are maintained and kept well.

The large majority of people will spend more money and want to buy the cars that are well cared for, look the best, and have been maintained the best. Very few people want to buy the broken down, old car, that does not run.

Sarah Butler

Purchase a good home warranty so you don’t have any surprises that you are not financially prepared for that first year. If you like the coverage you can continue to renew it ongoing.

Nancy Kallas

The most important tip I would give to a first time home buyer is to not get so excited you want to put an offer in on the first house you see, wait because there may be something better just around the corner.

Katie Wakefield

Get to know your neighbor’s. They are always a valuable resource.

Gerry Russell

Your principal and interest will never go up on a fixed rate mortgage BUT your payment CAN change on a annual or bi-annual basis depending on how often your bank audits their escrow files.

Becca Linnig

Do not find an unknown lender online! Get a trusted referral.” We can do everything right, find the perfect house, have all we need .. but if the lender doesn’t have it together, doesn’t communicate well etc.. it adds so much unnecessary stress.

Kimberly Vasquez

THE most important thing I counsel new home buyers is to talk to a local lender before starting their search for their new home. Many times there are a wide array of products and programs that can assist them with closing costs or loan costs.

An online lender isn’t invested in our communities, our buyers’ lives and their hope and dreams. And, if a few minor tweaks in their monthly spending habits or debt repayment, a local lender can walk them through the process step by step.

Most buyers (first time and repeat) don’t know that we must attach a loan pre-qualification to their initial offer for their future home.

Vicki Lind

Make sure a good resale based on style, condition and area.

Karen Shapiro

To make sure to always try to have at least two months worth of their mortgage payment set aside and to try to make a 13th payment every year.

Tracy Blackmon

Watch your finances from the time you get your Pre-Qualification Form until after Close of Escrow! Don’t buy anything expensive, pay off any loans, open up new credit cards, etc.

Lisa Yoder

If you can afford to put 20% down payment, do it.

Sandra Michel

Plan ahead and come up with a budget that fits what you are comfortable spending. All to often we have a tendency to let emotions influence our decisions. The last thing you want is to overspend on a home, and not have the freedom to still continue to live your life away from home. If you enjoy a night out with your significant other every week, or like to be sure you have that vacation money every year, hold yourself to it. There is a home for everyone, and some may be further down the road. It’ s ok to tell yourself that.

Terrance Voss

IGNORE all the solicitations that get you into debt! You’re going many starting the day you close and for months after via mail, email, phone and door to door salespeople!

Pamela Peta

Save for a down payment or see if you qualify for down payment assistance.

Kenya Ruiz

If they got a home warranty… Use it! Get the locks changed; have windows cleaned; if something happens, call to see if it’s a covered item. Your agent is there to help!!!

If the warranty company says it was a pre-existing condition and you know it was not at time of inspection and final walkthrough, we (your Realtor) can easily locate your inspection report and make a quick call to our area rep at the home warranty company.

Don’t be afraid to be a bother… We want to be your lifelong Realtor and friend.

Colleen Quinn

Put extra money into your home to update and improve your purchase. You’ve spent a lot of money! It may not be your forever home as life happens, so try to keep colors neutral and repairs caught up. This will help you sell faster and hopefully at a better price…

Dawn Zimbelman

Keep your home warranty active.

Julie Goldammer

I tell ALL of my buyers, but especially first time home buyers, that the very first thing you should do upon closing on a home is change the locks! You just don’t know who has had access to the home, and it’s just a safe thing to do. I always give a thank you gift to my clients, and several times in the past I have paid for a locksmith to come out and change the locks for my buyers.

If you have a thrifty minded buyer, you might suggest to them to take off all the locks in the home and take them to Home Depot. Home Depot will rekey locks for $5 each! I’ve had several buyers do this over the years, and it’s a very inexpensive way to protect yourself.

Ken Buchholz

The most important tip I give first-time homeowners is strongly recommending that they: 1) read and fully understand the Buyer Advisory, and 2) purchase, or request from Seller, a good home warranty protection plan as part of their purchase agreement.

Dalice Whatley

My primary goal when assisting a first time home buyer is to help them become educated in the process. First, finding their motivations and goals. Second, showing them what the process of purchasing a home is all about including the paperwork involved, determining geographically where they’d like to live, Third, explaining the escrow process. And fourth recommending several mortgage sources for them to talk to. Once all of that is done we can go out and begin looking for their first home. I also use this same process for seasoned home buyers as well.

Dave Harnisch

The most important tip, in my opinion, is the financial competence of knowing what it takes to own a home. Sitting down with a new home buyer and breaking out the fee’s, having the lender review the loan estimate in detail, and even going through the utilities for the home is the number one place to start.

Many home buyers only think about what they have experienced on a monthly basis. However, after adding in electric, gas, water, sewage & trash, maybe solar. This may adjust their overall spend limit and help them prepare for what is next.

Mandy Neat

Relax! Not everything has to be done all at once. Take the time to enjoy your new home!

Joan Tober

That deferred maintenance costs more in the long run. They have to set aside time and money to make sure the systems of their home are maintained so they continue to work optimally for as long as possible.

Heather Scriven

Don’t forget to renew the home warranty. Or at least have them look at the pros and cons to see if it would make sense for their particular situation. The typical first time home buyer is not going to be buying a new home.

Tyler Robertson

I have them spend time reviewing the online Buyer Advisory to make sure they know what areas are important to most buyers and they can do their research prior to our home search

Susan Kraemer

Document your move in with photos – you’d be surprised in 3-6-9-15 years from now what it looked like.

Use labels on your boxes to indicate what room to put them in – so no one has to ask “where does this go?”

Joan Lebigot

Call a full-time Realtor first! Ask questions and get answers – it’s not like what they may be watching on TV….we don’t show 3 homes in 30 minutes and by the end of the show they are moving in!!!!

Be prepared with knowledge, be armed with expertise that comes from a full-time Realtor and know how the game is played before you commit. Understand the paperwork, understand the costs, understand the process and when you get to the end and your agent hands you the keys you can truly say, ‘WOW, that was amazing!’

Pat Leahy

Because I have seen so many buyers enter into contracts on homes that will financially strain them in the future, my best piece of advice to a first-time homeowner is to find a location they love and consider purchasing the home that meets the minimum of their needs.

Do not plan to buy your “forever” home now. Look to what your needs will be over the next few years, and enjoy living in a more affordable and manageable home. This will set them up for their future much better than trying to have it all now.

Elizabeth Martin

Don’t make major purchases during the purchasing process.

Kathy Lockhart

Get your ‘Ducks in a Row’. You’re most likely going after THE MOST sought after Real Estate in our market, and you’ll have LOTS OF COMPETITION.

To even the playing field meet early with your Lender and get pre-qualified, and if possible, pre-approved. Have your paperwork ready to go. When you’re at the point where you want to make an offer, not having your ‘Ducks in a Row’ can cost you a deal!

Steve Redmond