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Buying 1st house can be a real challenge

Home sweet home

August 4, 2011
By DANIELLE PEMBLE - Journal Staff Writer  ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Newlyweds Kelly and Shawn Hodgins of Marquette, took the plunge July 15 when they were married and are taking the plunge once again, literally, as they get ready to buy their first home.

The couple hopes to close on a house in the next two weeks, one with broken water pipes and plumbing issues.

With the help from a Farmers Home Administration insured 203k loan, the couple was able to roll in the renovation costs with their monthly mortgage payment, which allowed them to buy the foreclosed fixer-upper. This loan permits homebuyers to finance an additional $35,000 into their mortgage to improve or upgrade their home before move-in, including making them more energy efficient.

Article Photos

Kelly Hodgins, left, and her husband Shawn Hodgins stand on the back deck of their future home with their buyer's agent, Crystal Barr of REMAX in Marquette. (Journal photo by Danielle Pemble)

"You have to have a vision," said Kelly Hodgins, as she, her husband and buyer's agent walked through the front door.

The house needs work, but these first-time homebuyers aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. The price was right, the location couldn't be better, there was a basement for Shawn to play his drums and a yard for their dog Olive to run and play. Although it has been a learning experience for the couple, and a lesson in patience, they said they are excited about their new project.

Their buyer's agent, Crystal Barr of REMAX, helped them through the sometimes confusing process.

The first step for new homebuyers is to get pre-approved by a bank or mortgage lender. You can visit several lenders and shop around for the best rates, but also keep in mind that every lender will issue a new credit check, which will show up on future credit reports.

When figuring out what you can afford, "It's important to do your homework," Kelly Hodgins said. "Make sure you include taxes and homeowner's insurance in your total."

You can even find out about how much you would pay in utilities at that particular property, Barr said.

"You want to be able to live within your means," she said.

After being cleared by the bank, the Hodgins discussed with Barr what their ideal house should be.

"I wanted to find out their needs," Barr said. "Different people want different things."

The couple listed some of the things they wanted in a home. After looking at six or seven houses, they found "the one."

"Don't settle right away," Shawn, 28, said.

"Patience is a virtue," added Kelly, 30.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, some things to consider when looking at houses are:

If you are seriously considering buying a home, it's good idea to hire a home inspector. An inspector's job is to point out all potential problems that would require costly repairs down the road.

You want to make sure you know what you're getting into when you purchase a home. In the Hodgins' case, they were able to find out what needs attention first, and can budget their time and money for the rest as it allows.

As for now, they wait patiently for their new home to become officially theirs.

Danielle Pemble can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 256.



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