Spring Home Improvement 2024

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2024 Spring H ome Improvement & Landscaping Learn More about the 2024 Great Home Expo! A Special Advertising Section of the Bangor Daily News • Friday, March 22, 2024

Spring Clean Up

Put the effort in now and you’ll have more time to relax this summer

Is there anything like summer in Maine? With so much to do and explore, no one wants to have to spend their time off doing maintenance around the house when the sun is shining and the oceans are calling. Here are a few things you can do now to prep your home and yard so you’ll have more time to enjoy your summer.

Mulch All Gardens

Not only does fresh mulch look wonderful and make your gardens retain moisture, it will keep the weeds at bay. Less weeding means more time spent doing things you love with friends and family.

Touch Up Outdoor Paint

Before it gets too hot, block off a few hours to check the outside of your home and do any touch up painting for an instant facelift. No one wants to spend a summer day painting in the hot sun.

Clean Gutters

Fall and winter can take a toll on your gutters. All the leaves, branches, and debris that fall can clog them fast. Book someone now to clear your gutters or you can do it yourself. Hate ladders? You can get your gutters really clean with a leaf blower and an extension kit so you can clean the gutters while standing on the ground. While you’re at it, make sure all your gutter downspouts are pointing in the right direction, away from your foundation.

Replace Blades On Lawn Mower

A little maintenance on your lawn mower will go a long way and you’ll be so glad you took care of it early so you can get the lawn mowed faster. Replacing the blades on your mower, whether you hire someone to do it or you do it yourself, is quick, inexpensive, and will save you tons of time.

Clear Out Household Clutter

It’s amazing how clearing out even a little clutter can make you feel lighter and more productive. If you have stacks of mail or magazines, spring is a great time to go through everything and recycle what you don’t want, then store then rest. Go through your pantry and fridge and make sure any stale or unwanted food gets tossed. Swap out any heavy blankets in your living area for lighter ones, and clear off your bedside tables.

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2 SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT & LANDSCAPING • Bangor Daily News Special Advertising Section • March 22, 2024

Customizing Modular Homes Just For You

The busy building season is kicking into gear, and Mike and Daisy Wight of Broughman Builders are ready to assist you with your new home experience. Broughman Builders, located at 6 Acadia Way in Ellsworth, has been constructing homes for over 40 years.

Now with three convenient locations, they are able to expand their reach and reputation throughout the State of Maine. A common misconception is that a modular home is limited to customization. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Broughman Builders customizes modular homes with the expertise of multiple manufacturers. Broughman can assist with your entire project—from the first shovel of gravel to the last drop of paint, and everything in between. With our in-house realtor, Daisy, Broughman will purchase your favorite piece of land and install your dream home for as little as $2,500 down for the entire project, known as an end loan, or turnkey project. With many financing options available, it’s easier than ever to purchase the perfect home, designed especially for you and your family. Modular homes can cost 30% less than a comparable stick-built home. Coupled with the speed, controlled costs, and as much as a 10-year warranty, modular homes are becoming the home of choice. Mike and Daisy invite you to view and enjoy the many model homes on display at their three locations for ideas and inspiration. Any one of the expert sales consultants on staff are available to answer questions and get you on the path to new home ownership. You can visit them at the Great Home Expo April 5-7, and on April 20, they will host an open house at the three locations from 9-5, and all are welcome to attend. In 2007, they were selected as the general contractor for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” project in Milbridge, Maine.

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Store All Cold Weather Clothing

Even if you don’t pack up all your winter clothes and store them in the basement or a spare closet, it’s good to at least tuck all your winter shoes away and hang up all your coats instead of leaving them out. Packing up heavier sweaters and sweatshirts and storing them in bins is an excellent, and quick, way to make way for things like T-shirts and lighter tops if you don’t have room to store your warm and cold weather wardrobe in one place. It will be a lot easier to find what you’re looking for and help you feel more organized.

A Big Spring Clean

After the snow melts, it’s mud season. Not only do we track lots of dirt and salt throughout the house during this time, our home can get extra dusty since the heat has been running for months. Give your house a little makeover simply by cleaning. Start at the top and dust off your ceiling fans, clear any cobwebs from the ceiling, wash windows, wash or vacuum curtains, clean and wipe down your walls with a mix of hot water and a squirt of your favorite dish soap. End by mopping all floors and shampoo carpets. Late spring and summer are also when allergies are the worst, so the less dust, dirt, and grime you have in your home (even if you can’t see it very well), the better you’ll breathe when the pollen is floating through the air. Not to mention giving everything a good scrub will make you feel wonderful.

Test Your Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

This is the perfect time to wipe all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors down and change the batteries if needed.

Taking a little time now will open up more time to enjoy all Vacationland has to offer this summer.

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The Dos & Don’ts of Fire Pits

Many homeowners relish any opportunity to retreat to their backyards, where they can put up their feet and relax in the great outdoors. That retreat-like escape is made even more relaxing when sitting around a fire pit.

Fire pits can be found in millions of suburban backyards across the globe. Fire pits have become so popular that a 2016 survey of landscape architects conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects revealed they were the most sought after outdoor design element. Fire pits remain wildly popular a half decade after that survey. Homeowners who are only now joining the fire pit revolution can keep these dos and don’ts in mind as they plan their summer s’mores sessions.

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DO keep the fire pit a safe distance away from the home. Fire pits should be located a safe distance from the home at all times, but especially when they’re in use. Home design experts recommend keeping fire pits a minimum of 10 to 20 feet away from a house or other structure, such as a shed or a detached garage. The further away the fire is from houses and other structures, the less likely those structures are to catch on fire.

DON’T place the fire pit beneath trees or next to shrubs. Though fire pits should be kept safe distances away from a house and other structures, it’s important that they’re not placed beneath trees or next to shrubs. Shrubs and low hanging branches can easily catch embers and be lit ablaze, so make sure fire pits are not placed in locations that increase that risk.

DO clean out seasonal debris. It can be tempting to let seasonal debris resting inside the fire pit burn away during the season’s first s’mores session. But burning debris poses a serious safety risk, as embers can easily be blown out of the fire pit and catch nearby trees or shrubs or even a home on fire. The National Fire Protection Association advises homeowners that embers blowing from a backyard fire pose the same threat to homes as if they are from a wildfire.

DON’T let fire pits burn near flammable materials. Store firewood piles a safe distance away from the fire pit while it’s in operation. It may be convenient to keep firewood right next to the fire pit while the fire is burning, but that increases the risk that embers will land on firewood and start a fire outside of the pit.

DO check the weather report prior to starting the fire. Windy weather increases the risk of embers blowing around and potentially landing on the house, other structures around the property or trees. If the weather report is calling for gusting winds, burn a fire on another night.

DON’T leave a fire pit burning. Unattended recreational fires are illegal and incredibly dangerous. Homeowners should never leave fire pit fires burning unattended or allow fires to slowly die out overnight. Always extinguish the fire before going inside and stop adding wood to the fire roughly one hour before you plan to go inside. Water or sand can be poured on ashes to extinguish the fire. Once homeowners are confident a fire has been extinguished, ashes can be spread around to ensure there are no hot spots still burning. If there are, start the extinguishing process over again.

A night around the fire pit is a summertime tradition in many households. Safety must be as much a part of such traditions as s’mores.

SPRING HOME IMPROVEMENT & LANDSCAPING • Bangor Daily News Special Advertising Section • March 22, 2024 7

How To Decorate A Small Bathroom

The bathrooms of my childhood all had sunny windows and space for plush bathmats, plenty of storage, and good lighting. But when I began looking for a home several years back, I was surprised to find teeny tiny half-baths in several of the Bangor houses I toured.

In fact, the home I purchased has one. At about 3 feet 6 inches by 4 feet, my bathroom is narrow with room only for a teeny corner sink and a toilet. But after living in my house for several years, I am finally seeing it for what it is: opportunity.

Employing some creativity and strategic planning, it’s entirely possible to transform confined spaces into havens of style and comfort. Here’s how.

Choose Fixtures Wisely

If you are considering changing out fixtures, look for ones designed for small spaces such as corner or half-size sinks that can be mounted. Pedestal sinks can also fit well in a small space. This will maximize the legroom in the bathroom and keep it from feeling cramped. Also, be sure that faucets are appropriately petite so the spray doesn’t overcome the small sink.

Maximize Lighting

Many small bathrooms are also windowless. Without natural lighting, electric lighting is crucial. My tiny bathroom has a bright recessed overhead light that offers all around good illumination. If yours doesn’t, consider finding an overhead light that will. Also, choose your lightbulbs wisely. Ones that mimic natural light can make the space feel fresher.

Take Your Time Choosing Paint

What’s the best paint color for a tiny bathroom? Only you can decide that. Take your time with this choice — it’s a bit like Goldilocks finding her perfect bowl of porridge. For me, it took a half-dozen trips to the paint store, many paint chips, and a few paint samples to find just the right color for my bathroom. As one paint expert told me, it’s all personal preference — but don’t go too dark. In the end, my perfect shade was a medium green with a hint of blue. The advice here? Don’t make a snap decision. Bring home paint chips, tape them up on the wall, and experience them in the lighting and space of your bathroom. Only then can you be sure of which shade is right for you.

Go Vertical for Your Storage

While you might not have a lot of square footage in your tiny bathroom, you likely have vertical space just waiting to be efficiently used. Storage fixtures come in many sizes, so decide how much storage you need and seek out taller furniture that will maximize space without crowding it. And don’t discount more flexible

solutions such as floating shelves, which can be coupled with cute baskets or boxes to also create a storage solution in a small space.

Give the Space Personality with Plants and Art

Early on in our bathroom redecorating process, I knew that live plants weren’t feasible in the windowless space. However, a well-crafted fake plant could add that hint of greenery I wanted. When selecting a fake plant, be sure to consider where you will place it and look at it from that angle. Art on the walls can also bring the space together. Aim for interesting pieces that will bring you joy when you see them. But, as with anything else in a small space, make sure you choose a size appropriate for the space.

Mirror, Mirror?

Reflective surfaces can make a small room feel bigger and brighter. When you choose a mirror or mirrors for the space, consider how much wall space you have for it. You want it to be large enough to be useful but not so large it makes the bathroom feel like a mirrored room.

When It Comes to Accessories, Less is More

Finally, when choosing accessories for the space, don’t go overboard. This is a case where less really is more — leaving the space uncluttered will make it feel larger. For instance, if no one will be brushing their teeth in your tiny, windowless bathroom, skip storage accessories for toothbrushes.

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Renovations That Help Sell Homes

The adage “there’s a lid for every pot” suggests that, even in relation to the real estate market, there’s bound to be a buyer for every home on the market. Price is a significant variable in the minds of potential buyers, but there are additional factors that can affect the impression people get of a given home.

Certain home features can tip the scales in favor of sellers. In fact, various renovations can help sell homes more readily. And these renovations need not cost a fortune. Putting a home on the market can be stressful, but these renovations may help it sell fast.

A fresh coat of paint: Although painting is relatively inexpensive and a job that some do-it-yourselfers can tackle, it’s not a task relished by many. Painting is messy, it takes time, and requires moving furniture. In fact, prepping a room for painting often is the toughest component of any painting job. But fresh coats of paint can create a strong first impression. Choose a neutral color and get painting. Jennie Norris, chairwoman for the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, says gray is a “safe” color that has been trending in recent years.

Minor bathroom remodel: Remove dated wall coverings, replace fixtures, consider re-glazing or replacing an old tub, and swap old shower doors for fast fixes in a bathroom. If there’s more room in the budget, replacing a tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity, and fixtures can cost roughly $10,500, says HGTV. You’ll recoup an average of $10,700 at resale, making a minor bathroom remodel a potentially worthy investment.

Redone kitchen: The kitchen tends to be the hub of a home. This room gets the most usage and attention of any space, and it’s a great place to focus your remodeling attention.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry estimates that homeowners can recover up to 52 percent of the cost of a kitchen upgrade upon selling a home. Buyers want a functional and updated kitchen. Trending features include drawer-style microwaves and dishwashers, commercial ranges, hidden outlets, and even wine refrigerators.

Updated heating and cooling system: Better Homes and Gardens reports that homeowners may be able to recoup 85 percent of the cost of new HVAC systems when they sell their homes. Heating, cooling and ventilation components are vital to maintain. You don’t want buyers to be taken aback by an older system, and many millennial buyers are not willing to overlook old mechanical systems.

Fresh landscaping: A home’s exterior is the first thing buyers will see. If they pull up to a home with eye-catching landscaping and outdoor areas that are attractive yet functional, they’re more likely to be intrigued. Often buyers will equate a home that features an impressive exterior with upkeep inside as well. The American Nursery Landscape Association says the average homeowner may spend $3,500 for landscaping.

Improving a home’s chances to sell quickly and at a higher price often comes down to making smart improvements that catch the eyes of buyers.

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Maintaining a Lawn Routinely Roamed by Pets


Vibrant, green lawns can draw attention to any landscape. Many homeowners toil for hours each week to ensure their lawns are pristine, or invest in lawn care services to help maintain a yard if they do not have the time to do so themselves. While many treatments can be applied to lawns to help them thrive, animal waste is not among them. Pet owners who aspire to have beautiful lawns will have to take a few extra steps to ensure lawns can persevere despite the presence of furry companions.

Reseed with a damage-resistant grass – There are many different types of grass, and some are more resilient than others. Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and Bermuda grass are just some of the grass varieties that can capably handle pet traffic. If replacing the entire lawn is not possible, consider reseeding or addressing the areas that pets frequent.

Strengthen the root system – It may be tempting to cut the lawn short, particularly if dogs or cats like to nibble on longer blades of grass. But that approach could be doing the lawn a disservice. According to The Home Depot, letting the lawn grow to at least three inches will help keep moisture in the soil and prevent evaporation. That moisture will strengthen the roots, creating a healthier lawn for pets and people.

Create pet paths – Various materials can be used in these high-traffic areas to minimize the sights and signs of pet traffic. Mulch or crushed stone can establish these pet highways and look like intended features.

Set boundaries – Pet urine contains high levels of nitrogen, which can burn grass and turn it brown. It’s not possible to water down urine or pick up solid waste immediately every time a pet goes outdoors, so designate a pet-friendly spot for potty time. Use fencing or a dog run to separate this area and help mitigate “land mines” all over the lawn. Fencing also can keep pets out of vegetable gardens and away from potentially toxic plants.

Avoid chemical lawn treatments – When pets use the yard and rest on the lawn, you’ll need to eliminate products that can be harmful to them. Choose allnatural fertilizers and weed and pest preventatives.

Look for alternatives – If maintaining a lawn with pets seems like an uphill battle, consider swapping out your landscape with a variety of materials. Scale back on grass, and incorporate groundcover, hardscape materials like pea gravel, or extend the patio. Artificial turf also is an option, as it won’t brown and wither. Some turf products can even be quickly and thoroughly cleaned with water.

It can take some trial and error for pet parents to protect their lawns from the effects of having furry friends playing in the yard.

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How to Make Outdoor Living Spaces More Comfortable

Private backyards are now go-to spaces for recreation and entertainment and great places to recharge the body and mind.

One ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was more time spent outdoors, even if it was predominantly on one’s own property. OnePoll, in conjunction with the lawn care company TruGreen, surveyed 2,000 American homeowners and found participants spent 14 hours outside every week in 2021, which was three hours more than prior to the pandemic. In addition, respondents admitted that time spent outdoors was therapeutic.

A separate survey conducted for the International Casual Furnishings Association found that people now spend more time relaxing, gardening, exercising, dining, and entertaining outside than in years past. Though COVID-19 may no longer dominate headlines, the desire to enjoy outdoor spaces has not waned.

While enjoying outdoor living areas, homeowners can do all they can to make these spaces comfortable and welcoming. The following are some good starting points.

Get all lit up: Outdoor spaces can be enjoyed no matter the hour when there is ample lighting. That could be why the International Casual Furnishings Association reports those who plan to renovate their outdoor spaces list outdoor lighting as a priority. Outdoor lighting not only sheds light on entertaining spaces, but also makes spaces safer and more secure.

Increase privacy: No matter how friendly homeowners are with their neighbors, there comes a time when privacy is paramount. Fencing, whether it is wood or vinyl, or even a natural fence made from closely planted hedges, can ensure residents feel comfortable venturing outdoors to swim, take a cat nap or even star gaze in private.

Address the elements: Homeowners should note the direction their backyard faces and the typical daily conditions of the space. For example, a yard that faces southwest may get plenty of strong sun during the day, requiring the addition of shade trees, covered patios or arbors to cut down on the glare and heat. If the yard is often hit by winds, trees or bushes planted strategically as windbreaks can help.

Sit comfortably: High-quality comfortable seating increases the likelihood that homeowners will want to stay awhile in their outdoor spaces. A deep seating set complete with plush chairs, outdoor sofa or loveseat and chaise lounge chairs gives people more opportunity to sit and stay awhile.

Take a dip: A pool can be the perfect gathering spot on a warm day, while a spa/hot tub can bridge the gap to cooler weather. According to the Family Handyman, soaking in hot tubs can relax tired muscles after a long day, loosen up stiff joints, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.

Bite back at bugs: Homeowners may want to consider using a professional exterminator to get rid of ticks, mosquitoes and other nuisance insects from outdoor spaces.

As people spend more time enjoying their properties, they can consider the many ways to make outdoor living spaces more comfortable.

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Freshen Up Your Home with New Flooring

Installing new flooring can be a relatively cheap and easy way to freshen up your living areas and give new life to your home. Depending on your choice, a new floor can be a quick remodel project done with just a few tools. But before you jump right in, you should know a few things about the different materials and some decisions you’ll need to make along the way.

The type of room you are reflooring will have some power over the flooring you choose. For example, you don’t see many bathrooms with carpet. In addition, there are other factors to consider, such as budget and traffic. A few different flooring options include laminate, hardwood, and tile, in addition to carpet.


Laminate is often the cheapest option, but when properly installed it can be a great choice and look more high-end than you might expect. A high quality laminate floor can last upwards of 30 years, and range between $1 to $5 per square foot if you install it yourself, according to Vevano.com. If you would like it installed for you, expect an additional $1 to $3 per square foot. While it looks great and is an affordable option, laminate is susceptible to warping from water, and unlike other options will not increase the value of your home. You will want to avoid any overtly harsh cleaning chemicals as these can damage laminate over time. Be sure to pay attention to the AC rating on laminate flooring, as each rating pertains to specific conditions. For example, an AC2 rating is best for general residential homes with light to medium traffic areas, such as a living room.


Hardwood flooring would be the next step up from laminate, but with that comes a steep price increase. A professional may charge up to $20 per square foot for materials and labor. However, hardwood has an incredible return on investment as it can last upwards of 80 years and increase the value of your home. One thing to be aware of is when picking a wood type, softer woods like pine, fir, and cedar are easier to scratch, whereas maple, oak, or birch are perfect for high traffic areas or if you have pets or children.

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One of the most expensive types of flooring is tile; a professionally installed room could cost you up to $30 per square foot for materials and labor. Tile is completely water resistant unlike laminate or hardwood, but could make for a cold interior to walk on. Tile flooring can last up to 50 years with proper installation and a high quality of material. For cheaper options, the duration can still be up to 20 years. When choosing a tile, consider the type of stone or material. Porcelain is a stronger type of tile than regular ceramic, but more expensive as well. The designs and colors are wide and vast with many different options. There are even ceramic tiles that imitate the look of wood grain to give you that rustic look.


If you’re looking to lay down some new carpet, the cost is found to be similar to the laminate price range at $1 to $4 per square foot. A new carpet properly installed can last from 5 to 15 years if properly cleaned and maintained.

Choosing a new type of flooring can seem overwhelming with all of the options available, but it can also be a very rewarding project. In a short amount of time, you can update and even add value to a dated space.

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How to Find The Right Real Estate Agent


Working with a real estate agent can give both buyers and sellers an edge in what continues to be a challenging real estate market. Agents, brokers and Realtors® are professionals who have distinct expertise and knowledge of the process of buying and selling homes. That expertise is evidenced by how many people rely on real estate professionals each year. A 2022 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends report found 88 percent of homeowners choose to list their homes with a real estate agent when it comes time to sell.

Individuals understand that it can be in their best interests to work with real estate professionals, but they may not know where to look as they seek to work with one. Here are some tips for finding the right match in a real estate professional.

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Know the difference in real estate professionals: Real estate agents are required by the state in which they operate to pass a real estate license exam. Real estate brokers take it a step further and undergo additional training, which could bring additional experience to the table. Realtors® are members of the National Association of Realtors® and beholden to its strict code of ethics. These individuals also may have undergone additional training that qualifies them to work with certain types of clients, such as older adults.

Seek referrals: Friends or family members, or even others in the community, can put people in touch with real estate professionals. When asking for referrals, individuals can inquire about certain professionals and how they handled buying and/or selling a home.

Work with the right type of agent: Generally speaking, real estate agents either work with buyers or sellers in the transaction. Many will do both, but some specialize in buying or selling. Find a professional who either does both or specializes in your position.

Research an agent’s online presence: Use the internet to see if the agent has a website, a particular philosophy or a specialty. This also may be a place to check online reviews. Don’t be dissuaded by one or two poor reviews. However, if there are many, it may be best to look elsewhere.

Meet and interview potential agents: Individuals should speak with a couple of real estate professionals to see what they offer. This is a good way to determine if there is a connection there, and whether the agent will get the results needed. A well-prepared agent will come with data, including “comps” of properties in the area. Professionals typically have information about the current market trends and a portfolio of the homes they have brokered recently.

Go with gut instincts: If it’s between two people of equal qualification, select the person with whom you have a stronger rapport. This person will be guiding you through a sizable financial transaction, so comfort level is important.

Finding the right real estate professional can take some time. But the right professional will guide clients through the often complex and occasionally frustrating process of buying or selling property.

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3 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Real estate has garnered considerable attention since 2020, and for good reason. Though speculators and real estate professionals may point to a number of variables that have affected the market for homes in recent years, the pandemic certainly was among those factors. Real estate prices and mortgage interest rates increased significantly during the pandemic and have remained well above pre-pandemic levels ever since.

The spike in home prices and interest rates has had a significant impact on young home buyers, some of whom feel as though their dream of home ownership may never be realized. And data from the National Association of Realtors indicates the median age of home buyers is now significantly higher than it was two decades ago. In 2023, the median age of buyers was 49, which marked an increase of 10 years compared to the average buyer age 20 years ago.

First-time home buyers may face a more challenging real estate market than they would have encountered just a half decade ago. The following three tips can help such buyers successfully navigate the market as they look to purchase their first home.

1 ) Expect to move quickly. Inventory remains very low, which means buyers are in heated competition for the few homes that are on the market. In late 2023, NAR data indicated the rate of home sales were the lowest they had been in 13 years, so buyers will likely need to move quickly and make an offer if they see a home they like, as chances are the property won’t be on the market too long before it’s sold. In fact, the NAR noted that homes spent an average of just 23 days on the market in October 2023.

2) Apply for mortgage preapproval. The competitive nature of the market for buyers means it’s in their best interests to arrange financing prior to beginning their home search. A mortgage preapproval can be a competitive advantage, as it indicates to sellers that buyers won’t be denied a mortgage or lack financing after making an offer. The financial experts at NerdWallet note that buyers will be asked to provide details about their employment, income, debt, and financial accounts when applying for mortgage preapproval. Gather this information and clear up any issues, such as credit disputes or delinquent accounts, prior to applying for preapproval.

3) Set a realistic budget and expect to o er over asking price. A financial planner and/or real estate professional can help first-time buyers determine how much they should be spending on a home. In the current market, buyers should know that they will likely need to pay more than asking price for a home. For example, the NAR reports that 28 percent of homes sold for above list price in October 2023. With that in mind, first-time buyers may do well to look for homes that are under budget in anticipation of offering more than list price after seeing a property.

The real estate market remains competitive for buyers. First-time buyers can utilize three strategies to increase their chances of realizing their dream of home ownership.

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