Happy Feet

First Time Home Buyers

The excitement of first time home buyers is enviable and amazing to watch. Most real estate agents have the opportunity to show and sell real estate to buyers who are looking for a vacation home, a second home or a permanent home in Bonita Springs, Florida. For seasoned buyers, the permanent home in the majority of cases is a home in a long list of addresses they’ve lived in. It could have been decades since they’d purchased their first dream home and labor of love. Often times the excitement of buying a new home has worn off.

I’ve tried to remember my first purchase but struggle with the dramatic details and ups and downs that went with it. It was twenty plus years ago. It was a home I had built in Bonita Springs, Florida on a lot that only cost $6,000. The only other mental note I have permanently etched in my mind was the paint color I picked on accident. It was a classic first time painter mistake. What looked peach on the sample turned out to be jack-o-lantern orange both inside and out. It was a tragedy, especially for the neighbors.

Paint isn’t usually the biggest issue that first time buyers encounter. First and foremost are establishing and maintaining decent credit and saving up for the down payment. In an ideal world a person pays their bills on time, maintains a savings in the bank and keeps their debt to income ratios at a decent level. When the buyers are able to tame their finances they’re then ready to set out on a home hunt.

The home hunt for a good many first time buyers is based on what they’re qualified to purchase. There are set loan limits that the buyer will be able to borrow based on their credit and down payment, plus a few other factors. In most cases in Southwest Florida a buyer may qualify for a loan limit but still have difficulty finding a home within that budget. With the recent shift in the real estate market in the Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida area there are more choices available than there have been for quite some time.

Even with more great choices for first time buyers there are some opportunities that are just going to be a labor of love. There are homes that barely limbo under the “affordability pole” and occasionally some of them need work. A buyer without a back bone and imagination would be scared off, unless they’re ready to get their hands dirty and can see the big picture.

Recently, I had an opportunity to watch buyers score their very first home in Old Bonita Springs. They were cheered through the process by their entire family and friends, as well as, a team of real estate and mortgage professionals. The home needed work and lots of it. Most of it was cosmetic but it still would a few weeks, maybe even months of man hours in sweat equity and favors asked of friends. They’d need a few thousands of dollars in supplies, too.

Did you know there are still homes themed in the color avocado complete with avocado colored appliances and bathroom fixtures? It had been a spell since I’d seen one. There’s something special about vintage avocado appliances that brings out the “oh my” factor in any person. The “blast from the past” surprise can only be topped by matching avocado walls. All of these lovely items usually come with sculpted, harvest gold or orange carpet. The entire collection was a perfect ensemble, for someone in the Brady Bunch era.

There are first time home buyers with enough drive and vision to see past the expired appeal of avocado and how a paint roller can perform miracles on walls. They know the carpet can be replaced. They’ll even see past the faux wood Formica kitchen cabinets and half heartedly decide to go with a “Waffle House” theme to match it until they can afford to reface the cabinets. Maybe the avocado tile will remain in the shower because the color is back in style or close enough to being back in style to temporarily stay it from the wrecking ball.

The thrill and passion of how someone shows off their new home, warts and all, with the joy of it’s potential when its “done” is just the best. You’d have to be standing there watching someone grinning from ear to ear point to the prehistoric draperies they’re going to take down. All the while they’re joking that they’re thinking of donating them to the Smithsonian. They no longer pay attention to the 20 years of nicotine stench built up in that avocado paint.

Sure, not all first purchase homes need over hauled. For a slim few buyers they’ll find the home that fits their dreams and it may not be in tip top shape. Maybe the dream isn’t the house as much as the lifestyle it will provide them. They can have their boat on a trailer in the driveway and the back yard is already fenced for their kids and for that they’re willing to look past any dated style or elbow grease needed. They can turn the house into a home over the next few months with a little hard work.

The potential of what a home can become is already a snapshot of an Architectural Digest home in the mind of some buyers. They’ll power through the hiccups and glitches of the do it yourself project and the little mistakes they’re bound to make and in the end turn their frog into a prince.

If anyone could find a way to bottle that kind of hope, pride, enthusiasm and optimism the world would beat a path to their door.