Tag Archives: #preapprovalletters

Three Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Buying your first home is a major decision and an exciting milestone. Even though it can feel daunting at times, it has the power to change your life for the better. These days, if you’re looking to purchase your first home, you’re probably concerned about what’s happening in the housing market, how much you need to save, and where to start.

Here are three tips to help you confidently pursue your dream of homeownership.

1. Consider All Options Because Inventory Is Low

As we all know, there are far more buyers in the market than there are homes available for sale. So, it’s a good idea to do what you can to increase your pool of options. That could mean expanding your search to include additional housing types. For first-time buyers, considering condominiums and townhouses can be an excellent way to increase your choices.

According to Bankrate: “Buying a condo can be a great way to dive into homeownership without worrying about the upkeep that comes with single family homes.”

Condos and townhouses are both great entryways into homeownership. When you buy either one, you can start building equity which increases your net worth and can fuel a future move.

You might also consider expanding your area of interest. A few miles could make a difference in price and homes to choose from.

2. Know Your Down Payment Could Be More Within Reach Than You Think

Saving for a down payment can feel like one of the biggest obstacles for homebuyers, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Acccording to Bankrate: “One of the biggest misconceptions among consumers is what the typical down payment is and what amount is needed to enter homeownership.”

Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. The graph below breaks down the median down payment by age group for recent homebuyers according to the 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from NAR (see graph below):

Three Tips for First-Time Homebuyers | MyKCM

Based on the data above, the median down payment for all homebuyers is only 13%. That’s well below the common misconception of 20%, and it’s even lower for younger buyers. This could mean you may not need to save as much for a down payment as you initially thought.

Some loan options require as little as 3.5% down for buyers who qualify. While there are advantages to putting 20% down, especially in today’s competitive market, know that you have options. 

3. This Isn’t the Time to Take Uncle Harry’s Advice

Finally, no matter where you are in your homeownership journey, the best way to make sure you’re set up for success is to work with a professional.

Well meaning relatives like Uncle Harry, who “knows a little something about real estate,” or family and friends, who bought houses a decade or more ago, are not your best sources of information and advice about today’s housing market.

(They might be the ones telling you that you need 20% for a downpayment!)

If you’re just starting out, a real estate professional can help you with the initial steps, including educating you on the process and connecting you with a trusted lender to get pre-approved.

Once you’re ready to begin your search, we can help you understand the market where you’re interested and search for available homes.

And when it’s time to make an offer, we can advise you on what the current trends and expectations are and help your offer stand out above the rest.

Curious about your options? Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com to discuss what’s possible. It’s important to have the correct information to make an informed decision.

…and remember. We know of what we speak. We’re selling and buying now, too. Check out our series “Mari Makes the Move” on our YouTube Channel, Mari Sennott Plus. We’ll be posting new episodes soon.


Thanks to everyone who came by the Sandwich Office of Today Real Estate on Saturday to have their valuable documents shredded by Great White Shred. Our goal was 100 “boxes” and we reached 93, even though the weather didn’t exactly cooperate. We plan on doing it again late summer/early fall.

Thanks as well to Kristy Sassone from First Home Mortgage for the assist with coffee and donuts and our raffle prize sponsors Jason Goldstein Photography, JDs Burgers and Sushi, Tomatillos, and Penguins Ice Cream.

Enjoy your week.

Mari and Hank

Balancing Wants vs. Needs

Since the number of homes for sale is low today, it can feel challenging to find one that checks all your boxes. But if you know which features are absolutely essential in your next home and which ones are just nice bonuses, you can land a home that fits your needs.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, explains it like this:

“Focus on the goal you set out for yourself, like your list of must-haves and nice-to-haves and your budget, . . . Stick to that. Be persistent.”

So how do you go about creating your list of desired features? The first step is to get pre-approved for your mortgage. Pre-approval helps you better understand your budget, and that plays an important role in how you’ll craft your list. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a home that’s too far out of reach.

Once you have a good grasp of your budget, you can begin to list all the features of a home you would like. Here’s a great way to think about them before you begin:

  • Must-Haves – If a house doesn’t have these features, it won’t work for you and your lifestyle (examples: distance from work or loved ones, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, etc.).
  • Nice-To-Haves – These are features that you’d love to have but can live without. Nice-To-Haves aren’t dealbreakers, but if you find a home that hits all the must-haves and some of the these, it’s a contender (examples: a second home office, garage, etc.).
  • Dream State– This is where you can really think big. Again, these aren’t features you’ll need, but if you find a home in your budget that has all the must-haves, most of the nice-to-haves, and any of these, it’s a clear winner (examples: farmhouse sink, multiple walk-in closets, etc.).

Finally, once you’ve created your list and categorized it in a way that works for you, review it with trusted real estate advisors like Mari Sennott Plus, who live and work on Cape Cod. Engaging your uncle’s best friend’s son who lives north of Boston and just got his license is not necessarily the best move.

As local realtors, we’ll be able to help you refine your list further based on our market; coach you through the best way to stick to it, and find a home on Cape that meets your needs.

Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com so we can get started.


With spring cleaning comes a stack of important documents that you probably shouldn’t put in the trash or recycle. But, what to to? We have the answer.

We’ll have a truck from Great White Shred available from 9:00am to Noon in the parking lot of Today Real Estate, 299 Cotuit Rd., on Saturday, May 7, for you to safely dispose of your important documents. With identity theft being a major concern, please take advantage of this opportunity.

We hope the Easter Bunny is good to you!

Mari and Hank

Five Tips for Making Your Best Offer for a Home

As 2021 ended, there seemed be a subtle shift in the Cape Cod real estate market. While many properties still received multiple offers, there weren’t as many as earlier in the year.

And while most successful offers were for above asking price, the final figures were not as head scratching as they were in the summer.

As a buyer in a sellers’ market, it can feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. How far over asking price should your offer be? How willing are you to get involved in a bidding war, even when the competition isn’t as challenging?

When you’re ready to make an offer on a home, remember these five easy tips to help you rise above the competition.

1. Know Your Budget

Knowing your budget and what you can afford is critical to your success as a homebuyer. The best way to understand your numbers is to work with a reputable lender so you can be pre-approved for a loan. As Freddie Mac puts it: “This pre-approval allow you to look for a home with greater confidence and demonstrates to the seller that you’re a serious buyer.”

As a practical matter, offers without pre-approval letters have little chance of being accepted. We work with several reputable lenders who serve the Cape Cod market and will pass on their contact information. Please reach out if you’re interested.

2. Be Ready To Move Fast

Homes are selling quickly in today’s competitive housing market. According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR): “Eighty-three percent of homes sold in November 2021 were on the market for less than a month.”

With houses selling this fast, staying on top of the market and moving quickly are key. Know what you’re looking for in a home and be ready to act when you see it.

3. Lean on a Local Real Estate Professional

No matter what the housing market looks like, rely on a trusted real estate advisor. As Freddie Mac advises: “Be sure to select experienced, trusted professionals who can help you make informed decisions and avoid any pitfalls.”

Real estate markets are different from area to area. Your uncle’s best friend’s godson who just got his license and works in western Massachusetts is probably not the best choice to help you buy (or sell) property on Cape Cod.

Cape-based based professionals have insight into what’s worked for other buyers here and what sellers may be looking for in an offer. It may seem simple, but catering to what a seller needs can help your offer stand out.

4. Make a Strong, but Fair Offer

According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index from NAR, 40% of offers today are above the list price. Submitting a strong, yet fair offer is critical in these situations. If you are really interested in a property, a low ball offer to “see what happens” is not a strategy for success.

Not all that long ago asking price was the most a seller could hope for. Now, it’s the minimum they expect.

5. Be a Flexible Negotiator

When putting together an offer, consider what options you have to make your proposal the most attractive. Can you be flexible with the closing date? Are you willing to let the seller leave behind furniture, even if you have no use for it?

Of course, there are certain contingencies you don’t want to give up. Freddie Mac advises resisting the temptation to waive the home inspection as you could move into a house and discover repairs that you can’t afford.

If you’re thinking 2022 is the year to make your move, we’d be happy to answer your questions. Let’s connect at 508-360-5664 or msennott@todayrealestate.com.

You need the right information to make an educated and informed decision about buying or selling in the year ahead.

Stay warm….

Mari and Hank