Jon Busch | Marco Island Real Estate, Naples Real Estate, Bonita Springs Real Estate


If you're planning on making the transition from apartment renter to homeowner in the near future, you can be sure that the experience will be both exciting and challenging!

While some first-time home buyers are fairly well prepared for the changes that accompany homeownership, others encounter a myriad of unexpected expenses, neighbor problems, and household emergencies. Keeping surprises to a minimum and knowing how to handle difficulties when they come up are two strategies for keeping your life on an even keel in your new home.

When taking your initial plunge into homeownership, here are a few things to keep in mind to avoid problems and get the most from your new home.

Budgeting for expenses: When you're a renter or living with your parents, three things you generally don't have to concern yourself with are home repairs, appliance replacement, and yard maintenance costs. The longer list of homeowner expenses that could take a bite out of your paycheck or bank account includes furnace and AC services, chimney cleaning, snow removal, landscaping, exterminator services, plumbing leaks, and lighting installation. Many first-time home buyers also need to buy items like a lawn mower, clothes washer and dryer, and furniture. Although you can delay or spread out some of these expenses, they do need to be considered when creating a household budget.

Privacy is a factor: Depending on the proximity of houses, the openness of your yard, and the extent to which you want to get to know your neighbors, you might find yourself wanting to have some fencing installed or privacy hedges planted. Ideally, these are alterations you'd want to have done shortly after you move in -- if not before. That way, next door neighbors will have less of a tendency to take it personally when you erect barriers between you and them. And speaking of privacy, curtains and blinds are often a priority that needs to be taken care of immediately. While some homes for sale may include window treatments, there's a good chance your home decorating shopping list may include curtains!

Neighbor relations matter: If you happen to have neighbors who are easy going, relatively quiet, and likable, then consider yourself very fortunate! Being a good neighbor is, of course, a two-way street, so try to keep your noise level down to a "dull roar" and be the kind of neighbor you'd like them to be! That's no guarantee, of course, that everyone's going to get along famously and be the best of friends, but mutual respect and showing a modicum of friendliness to neighbors does help establish a cordial neighborhood atmosphere.

By creating a realistic household budget, being neighborly, and factoring in your need for privacy, you can begin setting the stage for a satisfying and fulfilling homeowner experience.


Buying your first home is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. But, it does come with its advantages. Among them are tax breaks and deductions that you can take advantage of to save money if you play your cards right.

In today’s post, I’m going to cover some of the tax breaks and deductions that first-time homeowners should seek out this tax season to help them lower their tax bill.

Mortgage points

While earning points is a good thing on the basketball court, it can be a financial drain on a mortgage. Mortgage points are what buyers pay to the lender to secure their loan. They’re usually given as percentage points of the total loan amount.

If you pay these points with your closing costs, then they are deductible. Taxpayers who itemize deductions on their IRS Form 1040 can typically deduct all of the points they paid in a year, with the exception of some high-income taxpayers whose itemized deductions are limited.

PMI costs

If you’re one of the many people who made a down payment of less than 20% on your home, odds are that you’re going to be stuck with PMI, or private mortgage insurance, until you pay off at least 20% of the loan balance.

The good news is that homebuyers who purchased their home in the year 2007 and after can deduct their PMI premiums. However, the state on premium insurance deductibles is something that frequently comes up in Congress, so homeowners should ensure that these deductions are still valid when filing their taxes.

Mortgage interest

Mortgage interest accounts for the biggest deduction for the average homeowner. When you receive your Form 1098 from your lender, you can deduct the total amount of interest you’ve paid during the year.

Property taxes

Another deductible that shouldn’t be overlooked by first-time buyers is local property taxes. Save the records for any property taxes you pay so that you can deduct them during tax season.

Home energy tax credits

Some states are offering generous tax credits for homeowners who make home improvements that save energy. There are a number of improvements you might qualify for, including things like insulation and roofs, as well as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

IRA Withdrawals

Many first-time buyers withdraw from an IRA account to be able to make a larger down payment on their home or to pay for closing costs. In most other cases, withdrawing from an IRA will count as taxable income. However, if your IRA withdrawal is used toward a down payment or closing costs, the tax penalty is waived.


Keep these tax breaks and deductions in mind this tax season to help you save money and get a larger refund.


The home selling journey varies from person to person. If an individual prepares for this journey, he or she may be better equipped than others to avoid problems along the way. On the other hand, an individual who is unprepared for the property selling journey may struggle to achieve the best-possible results.

There are many things that an individual can do to enjoy a memorable home selling experience. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prepare for the house selling journey.

1. Upgrade Your House's Curb Appeal

How your house looks to prospective buyers can have far-flung effects on your home selling experience. If you allocate time and resources to enhance your residence's curb appeal, you could make your house an attractive choice to dozens of potential buyers.

Upgrading your house's curb appeal can be simple. For example, mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges generally won't take long to complete and can help your residence impress potential buyers. You can always repair or replace any damaged home siding as well.

If you require additional help with home exterior upgrades, contractors are available in cities and towns nationwide. In fact, these professionals can help you quickly improve your residence's curb appeal.

2. Set a Competitive Initial Asking Price

It is important to establish a competitive initial asking price for your residence, regardless of whether you are operating in a buyer's or seller's market. Otherwise, you risk alienating potential buyers – something that may result in a time-intensive home selling journey.

To set a competitive initial asking price for your home, it may be beneficial to analyze local housing market data. Compare and contrast your home versus similar residences that are available in your city or town, and you can use these insights to price your residence accordingly.

In addition, you can hire a home appraiser before you list your house. A home appraiser will provide a property valuation that you can use to establish an aggressive price for your residence.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a difference-maker during the home selling journey, and for good reason. This housing market professional understands what it takes to sell a home and will do whatever it takes to help you enjoy a fast, profitable house selling experience.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will develop a personalized home selling strategy for you. Thus, if you want to sell your residence as quickly as possible, a real estate agent will help you do just that. Or, if you want to optimize the earnings from your house sale, a real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure you can get the best price for your house.

As you prepare to add your house to the real estate market, there is no need to worry. Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can boost the likelihood of enjoying a seamless property selling experience.


Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or someone who has previously owned a home at some point in their life, you most likely know how expensive buying a house can be.

Fortunately, there are many organizations who would agree and who seek to help qualified buyers. There are a number of programs available at the state, local, and federal level designed to help certain buyers purchase a home.

There are also a number of myths around these programs, such as what the term “first-time homebuyer” really means.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the programs you can look into to get help paying for a home.

Who Qualifies as a First-Time homebuyer?

Contrary to what it sounds like, you can still qualify as a first-time homebuyer if you’ve owned a home in the past. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been helping people achieve their goal of homeownership since the 1930s. The FHA connects first-time homebuyers with lenders if the buyer meets certain criteria. Those criteria are:

  • Someone who hasn’t owned a home in the time previous three years. This includes spouses.

  • A single parent who previously owned a home with a former spouse, or a “displaced homemaker” who has only owned a home a former spouse.

  • People who have only owned homes that didn’t meet building code or a residence not fixed to a foundation.

The way the FHA helps buyers secure an affordable home loan is by insuring the mortgage. This makes it safer for lenders to approve you for a better rate for your home loan.

Veteran, Rural, and Native American Loan Programs

Aside from FHA loans, you might also qualify for a VA loan, a USDA program, or the Section 184 Indian Home Loan program.

VA loans from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs help veterans secure low-interest loans with affordable down payments. They will also help repeat veteran home buyers who have had financial difficulties in the past such as foreclosure and bankruptcy.

The Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program works similarly to an FHA loan in that the federal government insures the loan so that the buyer can receive a better rate and lower down payment.

This program is designed for American Indian and Alaska Native families. However, not every state is eligible for the loan.

The United States Department of Agriculture is another federal department that offers mortgage assistance. You don’t need to be a farmer or have agricultural aspirations to be approved for a USDA loan. Rather, these loans are designed to help develop rural areas by offering loans with no down payments.

State, Local, and Private Programs

Each state in the United States offers various buyer’s assistance and incentive programs. Be on the lookout for programs specific to your area to find low-interest rates and affordable down payments.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other companies work with lenders to create affordable lending programs throughout the country. Remember to shop carefully when dealing with private lenders and look out for hidden costs.


Once you move in with a partner, you know you have reached an important milestone in your relationship. For the first time, you could be talking about money with your partner. Whether you’re moving into an apartment or buying a home together, it’s important to break down how you’ll merge your finances together. 


While it’s one of the least romantic conversations that you’ll probably have as a couple, sharing your financial situation is one of the most vital. Below you’ll find some tips on starting that conversation and making it a smooth one.


Be Honest


In any relationship, honesty and communication are key. This is especially true when it comes to finances. There’s a lot that goes into your own financial picture, and it’s important that you share that with your partner. This is important for everything that will happen in the future including purchasing a home. Some things that your partner should know:


  • How much loan debt you have
  • A rough idea of your credit score and history
  • Your income
  • Your spending habits
  • Your saving habits

It’s important to know how another person’s habits will affect you as a whole when you’re thinking of making an investment together like a piece of property. Everyone handles money differently, and you should know how someone’s spending habits meshes with yours. Do they live paycheck to paycheck? Do they save money regularly? Are they financially strained? All of these questions help you to understand where you are similar and where you are different when it comes to money.



Have A Plan For How You’ll Divide Expenses


It may seem like a 50/50 split on expenses makes the most sense. For many couples it does. In other situations, if one person makes more money, they may need to pay a bit more of the costs. Some couples have one person pay the rent while the other takes the utilities on as an expense. Take amounts and percentages that you feel comfortable with and do what wrks best for the both of you. 


Remember that chores count too when it comes to dividing up the “expenses.” This is just an extra tip that will help you to build a stronger relationship in the long term and help to save arguments.


Use A Joint Account For Expenses


You should still keep your own bank accounts when you move in with a significant other.  All of your money shouldn’t be funneled into one singular account. Create a separate bank account for your expenses like rent or mortgage and utilities. All of your personal expenses should come out of your own respective accounts. 


Make Contracts


No matter how much you feel that you can trust a person, it’s always good to put everything in writing. This way, if there are any disputes in the future, you’ll always have a contract that you can refer back to. It’s also important to have these documents for things like security deposits or down payments. If the relationship ends at any point, it’s important for the person who paid for certain things to get their money back.     


Planning and tracking your finances when you move in with a significant other is important. It will certainly make your life easier if you have these conversations beforehand.




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