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10 Best States for First-Time Home Buyers

shutterstock_71599324Buying a home is a financial goal that has been delayed for many Americans, thanks to the recession. With the economy continuing to strengthen in 2015, however, many wannabe homeowners have decided it’s time to buy their first homes.

One-third (32 percent) of home purchases made in May 2015 were by first-time home buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, called this “an encouraging sign” stemming from “strong job gains among young adults, less expensive mortgage insurance and lenders offering low down payment programs.” According to Yun, first-time buyers entering the market will continue to increase.

To see which states offer the best conditions for new homeowners, GOBankingRates ranked the 10 states with the most growth in the number of first-time homebuyers, while maintaining lower levels of foreclosure rates, over the past 10 years.

1. West Virginia

West Virginia saw some of the biggest growth in first-time home buyers in the past 10 years. From 2003 to 2013, the share of new first-time home buyers increased 57.6 percent while foreclosures in 2015 have remained low in the state at 0.01 percent.

The low costs of buying a home in this state also make this housing market accessible for first-time buyers. The median sale price in West Virginia is $115,850, with a monthly payment on a 30-year mortgage costing around $550 a month — more than 40 percent less than the $950 median rent price.

West Virginia also offers some public programs to help its residents buy their first homes. The Homeownership Program offered through the West Virginia Housing Development Fund can provide up to 100 percent financing for first-time home buyers who meet income requirements. Home buyers can also take advantage of the Down-Payment/Closing Cost Assistance program to secure a low rate on a loan of up to $15,000 to help cover down payments and closing costs.

2. New Hampshire

New Hampshire saw an even greater increase in the number of first-time home buyers than West Virginia. The portion of homebuyers in the state looking to purchase a house for the first time increased by 89.3 percent from 2003 to 2013. The state’s foreclosure rate is not quite as low, however, at 0.05 percent, which put it at No. 2 on this list.

The median sales price in New Hampshire, $224,700, is also nearly double that of West Virginia. But buying at that price is still cheaper than renting; a monthly mortgage payment is around $1,060 on a 30-year loan compared with the median rent price of $1,250 in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire state programs can be a big help to first-time homeowners, such as the Home Preferred loans that let borrowers get a mortgage with a down payment as small as 3 percent and provide low mortgage insurance coverage for smaller monthly payments. New Hampshire also offers a tax credit of up to $2,000 each year for first-time home buyers.

3. Rhode Island

Rhode Island had the largest amount of growth in first-time homebuyers; its rate of this type of borrower nearly doubled — up by 97.1 percent — from 2003 to 2013. Foreclosures are also fairly low at 0.06 percent, only slightly higher than New Hampshire’s 0.05 percent.

Rhode Island also has a wider gap between typical mortgage payments and rent prices. The median rent is reported at $1,400 while the monthly 30-year mortgage payment is just around $1,030, based on a median sale price of $217,625.

The state’s FirstHome lending program makes borrowing more accessible for first-time buyers. It offers no-money-down options and assistance with closing costs. Rhode Island’s FirstHome loans also qualify the homebuyers for a FirstHome tax credit of up to $2,000 throughout the life of the loan.

4. Vermont

Vermont is yet another Northeast state that has seen strong growth among first-time homebuyers, with a 48.2 percent rise from 2003 to 2013. The state also has one of the lowest foreclosure rates at 0.02 percent.

The MOVE mortgage credit certificates offered through the Vermont Housing Finance Agency offer low-interest mortgages, lowered monthly mortgage insurance payments and savings on the Vermont Property Transfer Tax. The agency also offers down payment grants that can cover as much as 2.5 percent of the purchase price or loan amount, whichever is lower.

Lastly, there is the local housing market. Vermont’s median home sale price is $224,900, which is slightly above the national median of $215,177. This difference doesn’t push homeownership too far out of reach, but it could mean that hopeful homeowners might need to save a little longer to afford a house.

5. Massachusetts

The ratio of first-time homebuyers in Massachusetts saw a big jump from 2003 to 2013 — 74.3 percent — showing more residents in the state are ready to take the leap. The state also has a foreclosure rate on the lower end, showing that its residents have a good chance at retaining homeownership once they’ve made the commitment.

The median home value in Massachusetts is $323,800 and the median sale price is $309,500, indicating that Massachusetts residents shopping for a home can currently get a deal and pay below market value. Monthly 30-year mortgage payments based on the median price would also be significantly cheaper than the median rent in the state, at $1,460 versus $2,300, respectively.

First-time buyers in this state can also take advantage of mortgage insurance programs like MassHousing, which offers mortgage payment protection that covers up to $2,000 a month in mortgage and interest payments for up to six months should the borrower suffer a job loss. Another option is the ONE Mortgage Program, which is offered through the Massachusetts Housing Partnership Fund and allows for down payments as low as 3 percent and publicly subsidized loans for up to 20 percent of the home’s value.

6. Hawaii

Hawaii had a 52.8 percent increase in first-time homebuyers from 2003 to 2013 and has a lower foreclosure rate at 0.03 percent. In terms of state programs to get help buying a first home, Hawaiians have limited options. But, the state does offer a mortgage credit certificate that can reduce the federal income tax homeowners owe.

Like in Massachusetts, listing prices in Hawaii fall below home values, making it more likely that a home purchase will be a good deal. But the $84,200 difference between the median sale price ($453,100) and median home value ($537,300) is more pronounced in Hawaii. On the other hand, this median sale price is still high and would result in payments around $2,140 a month with a 30-year mortgage, which is on par with the $2,300 median rent price.

7. Washington, D.C.

When it comes to housing, Washington, D.C., has the highest prices of all the places on this list, with a median sale price of more than half a million dollars — $511,885. The lower $487,600 median home value also doesn’t bode well for homebuyers, indicating they’ll be trying to purchase in a market that favors sellers. Plus, the median rent price of $2,285 actually beats mortgage payments of $2,420 based on the median sale price. Of course, D.C. is a smaller area than the states surveyed and is a major metropolitan area, so buyers should expect a competitive housing market.

In terms of first-time homebuyers, D.C. saw fair growth of 41.7 percent from 2003 to 2013. It has also maintained one of the lowest foreclosure rates at 0.01 percent. D.C. offers several local programs that can help first-time homebuyers, such as the Home Purchase Assistance Program. The program provides up to $50,000 in gap financing and up to $4,000 in assistance with closing costs.

8. Wyoming

With plenty of wide-open spaces to offer its residents, Wyoming’s real estate comes cheaper than real estate in many other states. Its median home value is estimated to be $179,000 as of May 2015, which is right on par with the national median of $179,200. Wyoming’s growth in the portion of first-time home buyers was fairly average at 48.5 percent, but the state has a lower foreclosure rate of 0.03 percent.

Wyoming also provides state-level assistance through the Home Again Program, which offers reduced mortgage rates for first-time homebuyers. The state’s Down Payment Loan Program can also be a big help to new homeowners; it provides loans up to $10,000 to help cover home down payments.

9. Maine

The median value of homes in Maine. which was estimated to be $118,000, is relatively low — not only when compared with the national median but especially next to the median home values of other Northeast states, such as Massachusetts ($323,800) and New Jersey ($273,700). Even with a reasonable median rent at $1,225, homeownership is still attractive. A 30-year mortgage for a property equal to the state’s median home value would cost around $560 a month.

The portion of first-time homebuyers in Maine has increased significantly, climbing 51.6 percent from 2003 to 2013. The state’s 0.04 percent foreclosure rate is also less than most states. Maine provides a few programs to help homebuyers, including the First Home Program. The program offers low-rate home lending, which requires little or no down payment.

10. Arizona

Arizona saw above-average growth in first-time homebuyers (63.6 percent), but this increase is also paired with a middling 0.06 percent foreclosure rate that pushed the state down to No. 10 on this list. First-time homebuyers in the state also lack many public assistance options; however, the Home Plus Home Loan Program can help first-time buyers secure down payment assistance up to 4 percent of the home loan amount.

Arizona is another state that has low home values compared with slightly inflated sale prices. The median home value is $191,300, and the median sale price is $204,500. The good news is that mortgage payments are still cheaper than renting; a 30-year mortgage on the median sale price would cost around $970 a month, whereas the state’s median rent is more than $200 higher each month at $1,195.

For more information, visit www.gobankingratescom.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

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Putting Off Procrastination in 5 Easy Steps

By Rebecca Chandler

online-surveysWe all procrastinate from time to time.  We start a project and then get distracted by an email, a social media post, or an off-topic conversation.  It happens.   You may be doing it now.

Most of the time, we put off things because they seem overwhelming.  Solving a complex problem at work.  Preparing a home to go on the market.   Writing a blog post on procrastination. 😉  But these tasks are often a piece of a bigger goal and by putting them off, we delay accomplishing the larger objective.  Here are some strategies that may help you tackle procrastination and advance your goals.

  1. Make an audacious, big, big goal that will inspire you. For example, someone who wants to sell their home may have to paint, clean out closets, make minor repairs, and stage their home for showings.  None of these sound particularly enjoyable.  However, if the big, audacious goal is to move into a beautiful new home, embrace a simpler lifestyle, or relocate to a new exciting area, keeping that big goal in mind will make painting and cleaning out clutter more tolerable.  Each paint stroke or organized closet is a step toward that bigger goal.
  2. Break the work into smaller, easily completed steps. Write them down. Sometimes the reason we procrastinate is because the tasks ahead of us seem overwhelming. “There is so much to do to prepare my home for sale, I don’t know where to start.”   Start by making a list of the tasks to be completed, and then break those tasks down even further.

Cleaning out all closets, drawers and storage areas – (a big task)

  • Get boxes for carting donations to charity.
  • Get trash bags for garbage.
  • Create a staging area where to pile donations.
  • Take one room at a time. Complete one before moving on to the next.
  • Drop off donations on way to other errands.
  • Call waste management vendor and schedule a special pickup for larger items.

By breaking a larger task down into smaller ones, they don’t seem so overwhelming.  Picking up boxes and trash bags are steps that can be accomplished in a few minutes, not hours.   Clearing some floor space in the garage to pile the donations will not take all day.  Start with one room (or one closet or drawer). You can make major progress in a short amount of time.

  1. Allocate time for work and time for play. Mark Twain said “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day,”  suggesting you face the most unpleasant tasks first.   Do you really want to eat a live frog for breakfast?  I don’t.  I’m not a morning person and no amount of coffee is going to make me productive at 6 a.m.  But, you probably know the time of day in which you are most productive.  Block out time on your calendar, uninterrupted, to devote to your “live frog.”  Treat it like an important meeting and don’t reschedule it.   Michael McDevitt, Cofounder and CEO of Tandem Legal Group, wrote in his article, “For Entrepreneurial Success, Eat A Live Frog Every Morning”, that he devotes 2 hours per day to tackling his unpleasant to-do list (although not first thing in the morning).  During those 2 hours, everything else can wait.

Conversely, block out time in which you are not going to work.  Saturday afternoon, watch the football game with friends.  Tuesday, have lunch with a friend.  Giving yourself a break, without guilt, will give you a boost of motivation during your productive times.

  1. Set deadlines. Realistic deadlines.  If you know that you have nine closets, then cleaning out one per day during the week and four on the weekend will allow you to accomplish your goal in a week.   Split the work between two people and the time required is cut in half.  Seeing the end in sight makes the work less daunting.


  1. Check things off the list and reward your accomplishments. Finish cleaning out a closet?  Relax in a hot bath with a book or go for a walk in the park.  Finish cleaning out all your closets?  Go to a movie you’ve wanted to see.  Ending an unpleasant task with a pleasant one will keep you motivated.

In conclusion, don’t delay!  Try these steps today!

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Five Ways to Amp Up Your Marketing

by Rebecca Chandler

LSM_phone_iconOrbit_ABCgeneric (1)The right mix of marketing tools and mediums can really amp up the effectiveness of all your marketing efforts to reach real buyers and sellers on the real streets of your real town.

Here are 5 ways to amp up your marketing efforts.

  1. Amp up your yard sign. Add a text code that leads them to a mobile site for that home and immediately sends you their phone number. You’ll gain immediate access to a hot lead and (that sign becomes a great listing tool).
  2. Amp up your website. Your website may look great on a computer, but make sure it displays appropriately on tablet or a phone. Adding an IDX feed and the GPS capability of those devices will make your personal site a favorite among buyers and sellers – and will generate even more leads for you.
  3. Amp up your listings. Wide web exposure for properties for sale today is a basic expectation. However, placing your listings in the real geographic locations where the likely buyer lives, works, shops and plays is a power move. The Real Estate Book® distributes thousands of magazines in local markets, interrupting the day of the potential buyer delivering an active advertising campaign for your listings versus a passive waiting game on the web.
  4. Amp up your personal brand. Creating a strong personal brand in your local market requires professional, high power marketing tools and integrating them into a cohesive campaign can be overwhelming. Your local Real Estate Book representative can put together a full marketing plan for you including local print, text codes, mobile sites, lead gen yard signs, and more – for an affordable single price.
  5. Amp up your results. Using the right marketing tools will increase your results and tracking all your marketing efforts doesn’t have to be complex. The Real Estate Book’s Leads Activity & Results allows you to analyze all your results and your local representative can work with you to make sure you maximize the return on your marketing investment.


Want to learn more? Contact your local Real Estate Book representative today. Go to http://store.realestatebook.com to find yours.

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