Maria DiCarlo - Wakefield, MA Real Estate, Reading, MA Real Estate


If you’re a first time homebuyer and want to start weighing your mortgage options, you’ll have much to learn. With so much at stake, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best mortgage for you now, and one that will still suit your needs years into the future.

Sometimes, first time buyers are hesitant to ask questions they may consider too basic because they don’t want to seem inexperienced to lenders, agents, or anyone else they’ll be in contact with throughout the home buying process.

So, in this article, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked mortgage questions that first time buyers might want to ask before heading into the process of acquiring a home loan.

What is the first step to getting a mortgage?

This question may seem straightforward, however the first step can vary depending on your financial situation. For those who already have saved up for a down payment and built a solid credit score, the first step is probably contacting lenders and getting preapproved or prequalified.

However, if you aren’t sure about your credit score and haven’t saved up for a down payment (ideally, 20% of what you hope to spend on the house), then you should address those matters first.

To find a lender, you can do a simple Google search for the mortgage lenders in your area, or you can ask around to friends and family to find out their experience with their own mortgage lenders.

What does it mean to be pre-qualified and pre-approved?

If you think of the mortgage process in three steps, the first step would be getting pre-qualified. This means you’ve given the lender enough basic information for them to decide which type of mortgage you’re eligible to receive.

Pre-approval includes collecting and verifying further details. At this step, you’ll complete a mortgage application and the lender will run a credit check. Once you’re pre-approved, your file can be moved to the underwriting phase.

What are closing costs?

“Closing costs” is an umbrella term that covers all of the various fees and expenses related to buying or selling a home. As a buyer, you are responsible for paying numerous closing costs. These can include, but are not limited to, underwriting fees, title searches, title insurance,  origination fees, taxes, appraisal fees, surveys, and more.

That sounds like a lot to keep track of, however your lender will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the total closing costs when you apply for your loan. In fact, lenders are required to give you a list of these costs within three days of your loan application in the form of a “good faith estimate” of the closing costs.

What will my interest rate be?

The answer to this question is dependent upon numerous factors. The value of the home, your credit score, the amount you put down (down payment), the type of mortgage you have, and whether or not you’re paying private mortgage insurance all factor into the interest rate you’ll receive. Interest rates also will vary slightly between lenders.

You can receive a fixed-rate mortgage that does not fluctuate throughout the repayment term. However, you also typically have the option to refinance to acquire a lower interest rate, however refinancing comes with its own costs.


Let's face it – buying a home is rarely simple. As such, you may need extra help along the way to ensure you understand the ins and outs of purchasing a house. So what does it take to become an expert homebuyer? Here are three homebuyer education options that are available to homebuyers nationwide: 1. Family Members and Friends Did a family member or friend recently purchase a house? If so, you may be able to lean on this individual for support as you explore the real estate market for the perfect home. Typically, a family member or friend can serve as a reliable source who can share his or her past homebuying experiences. This individual also might be able to recommend a real estate agent who provided outstanding support to him or her in the past or suggest areas where you may be able to find a home that fits your budget. Family members and friends, of course, can help you minimize stress throughout your search for the right home, too. Thus, you should be able to rely on them for a helping hand as you explore the housing market. 2. Networking Groups and Workshops Did you know that networking groups and workshops may be available that can empower you with insights you need to find the right home immediately? That's right, and in many cases, there are no costs to participate in these groups and workshops as well. Usually, a networking group serves as a collection of homebuyers with a common mission – to discover a great house at an affordable price. It is important to note that networking groups are scattered across the country. And in order to find the right networking group, you may want to search websites like Meetup and Facebook. Homebuyer workshops occasionally are held at various locations nationwide by homebuying experts who are happy to share their knowledge. In many cases, cities and towns also will host free homebuyer workshops, enabling you to learn what it takes to purchase a house quickly and effortlessly. 3. Real Estate Agents When it comes to becoming an expert homebuyer, there may be no better resource at your disposal than an experienced real estate agent. Because with the right real estate agent at your side, you'll be able to explore a broad assortment of high-quality houses any time you choose. To hire the right real estate agent, you should be prepared to meet with several real estate professionals and discuss your homebuying needs with them. By doing so, you'll be able to find a real estate agent who you are comfortable working with and possesses the skills and expertise needed to ensure you can find your dream home without delay. Purchasing a house can be a stressful, time-consuming process, but receiving homebuyer education from multiple expert sources ensures you are better equipped to buy a house that fulfills your needs. Utilize the massive collection of homebuyer educational resources that are available, and ultimately, you can improve your chances of purchasing a home that you can enjoy for years to come.

Imagine what it will be like when you discover your dream house. In all likelihood, this residence will meet all of your needs, along with your budget. However, it is important to note that the final price of your home is unlikely to be what you'll wind up paying for your new residence. There are many hidden home costs that you should consider before you finalize your home purchase, including: 1. Property Taxes Property taxes are a necessary evil. And even though every homebuyer would like to avoid them, these taxes must be paid consistently. Typically, property taxes are billed annually as a percentage of your assessed home's value. They may total thousands of dollars that you'll be responsible for paying every year, and as such, should be considered when you budget for your home purchase. Although you cannot avoid property taxes, you can plan for them. Homebuyers who budget accordingly, meanwhile, will be able to ensure that they can pay these taxes on time for the length of their mortgage. 2. Utilities You've decided to buy a home, but how do you plan to pay for electricity for your new residence? Or how do you intend to pay to heat and cool your home? Utilities are paramount, and the costs associated with utilities need to be evaluated during the homebuying process. Fortunately, working with an experienced real estate agent ensures you'll be better equipped to understand the utilities costs you may encounter when you buy a new residence. A real estate professional may be able to provide insights into how much utilities will cost based on the size of your home and your individual needs. That way, you'll be able to get a better idea about how much you'll need to save each month for electricity, heat and other utilities. 3. Home Repairs and Maintenance Even a brand new house will require repairs and maintenance over time. And even though every room in a home looks like it is in great shape now, the same may not hold true even a week, month or year from now. Putting aside money each month enables you to prepare for any minor or major home repair or maintenance projects that could arise. Furthermore, those who are in dire need of extensive home repairs may be able to apply for a home improvement loan to ensure they can get any home improvement projects done as soon as possible. Remember, planning ahead usually is a good idea, particularly for homebuyers. Budgeting for the unforeseen costs associated with buying and owning a home is important, and doing so will ensure you're prepared for any challenges that may come your way. Creating a budget and sticking to it can help you find a great home that won't force you to stretch beyond your means. Plus, those who develop a budget that includes potential hidden homebuying and homeownership costs can avoid the risk of falling into debt. Prepare for the hidden costs of buying a new residence, and you'll be able to maximize the value of your purchase.

If you intend to buy a house in the foreseeable future, it pays to prepare. That way, you can enter the real estate market as an "extraordinary" homebuyer, i.e. someone who knows exactly what it takes to find a great house at an outstanding price.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help any homebuyer go from ordinary to extraordinary.

1. Learn the Ins and Outs of the Housing Sector

The real estate market is complex, particularly for someone who is pursuing a house for the first time. Fortunately, plenty of housing market data is available that can help you gain the insights that you need to make an informed home purchase.

Take a look at homes that are currently available in your city or town. By doing so, you can better understand the prices of houses that match your expectations. Then, you can tailor your home search accordingly.

Furthermore, don't forget to assess the prices of recently sold residences in your area. This housing market data will help you determine whether you're about to enter a real estate market that favors buyers or sellers.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Meet with banks and credit unions to learn about your mortgage options – you'll be glad you did. If you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can begin your home search with a budget in hand, thereby reducing the temptation to spend too much on a house.

Lenders are happy to provide you with information about a broad range of mortgage options. Also, if you ever have mortgage questions, lenders employ friendly, professionally trained mortgage specialists who are ready to respond to your queries.

In addition, it usually is a good idea to evaluate your credit score prior to applying for a mortgage.

You can obtain a free annual copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). If you review your credit report closely, you can identify and resolve any potential credit problems and increase the likelihood that you can obtain a favorable mortgage.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to becoming an extraordinary homebuyer, it is important to note that it can be difficult for even the most diligent homebuyer to succeed on his or her own. However, if you employ an expert real estate agent, you can streamline the process of acquiring your dream residence.

A real estate agent is committed to your homebuying success, and as such, will do everything possible to help you find the perfect residence.

Typically, a real estate agent will set up home showings, negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf and provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. This housing market professional will even help you alleviate homebuying stress and ensure that you can quickly go from homebuyer to homeowner.

Ready to embark on the homebuying journey? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can become an extraordinary homebuyer in no time at all.


As soon as someone walks through the door of your home they get a sense of how you have created the space. Making sure that your home feels inviting is important for when guests come over or people enter your home.

It’s also handy to understand how to make your home feel welcoming when it’s ready to be sold. The task of making your home feel welcoming, comfortable and stylish can seem daunting, especially if you’re in the  process of moving or starting over somewhere new. Even entertaining guests during busy times of the year can overshadow seeing the overall welcoming picture of your home. We have some tips for you to help you make sure that every person who walks through the doors of your home feels welcome and cozy inside its walls.

Start with the Entryway

The absolute first impression of your home that people get other than the outside appearance is that of the entryway. The minute people walk through the front door, they’re getting a sense of your home and property. There’s certain accessories that you can add for a simple touch that can make a big difference in the way your home is portrayed. Depending on how your entryway is set up, there are small pieces that you can use to give the entryway of your home an instant feeling of being inviting.

An example of an effective accessory would be a grandfather clock, which is stately and has a charming touch. A rug or succession of rugs also gives a sense of warmth and can add a lot to an entryway. This is particularly useful for homes in colder climates. It’s also important to make practical use of mirrors and lighting in your home’s entryway. If the entryway is a porch, a classic bench is a great piece to make visitors feel like they’re right at home.

Entice the Senses

Once visitors get inside your home, there are several small ways that make an impact on how guests feel inside of your home. Candles are a small touch that work quite well. Since our senses help us make associations, candles with the scent of flowers, cookies, or even cinnamon are a great way to help visitors feel welcome. These scents are very much associated with the feeling of “home.” Many times, it’s effective to burn these types of candles while an open house is going on. The small touch helps to further entice interested buyers.

Keep Delicate Items To A Minimum

When you’re in a museum or a china store, you often feel like you can’t walk around because you’re afraid of breaking something. While it’s certainly acceptable to have nice things in your home, you don’t want anyone walking around it to feel as if they’re in a museum. Part of developing a welcoming feeling in your home is making sure people actually feel comfortable there. These are some thoughts on how to give your home an inviting touch. Now, over to you- what makes you feel welcome in a home? 




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