First Time Buyer

Our First Time Home Buyer section is a wealth of information on the property buying process, including tips and checklists for making that first Real Estate purchase as painless as possible. Click on the links below to our First Time Home Buyer resources.

Tips & Advantages For First Time Home Buyers

Advantages of Home Ownership

Are there really advantages to owning a home? You’ve been renting for awhile. You’ve enjoyed it. You have the freedom to move without the worry of selling a home first. You don’t make repairs or pay property taxes. But something’s missing, a sense of security, or perhaps a gut feeling that your monthly payments are going into a bottomless pit.

You think it might be time to take a step in another direction. You’re ready to buy a home, but you have some questions about the benefits of home ownership.

Tax Advantages of Home Ownership

The US government allows tax incentives that make it possible for many homeowners to exceed the standard yearly deduction. Your state may offer the same benefits.

• Deduct the yearly interest on your primary and vacation home. This amount equals a big chunk of your total payments for the first several years.
• Deduct the total amount of your yearly property tax bill.

You might wish to refinance to consolidate other debts. These loans typically carry a lower interest rate than the debts they replace, plus, the interest on the home equity loan is tax deductible.

More Stable Costs For Homeowners
Monthly payments can change if property taxes and insurance go up, but increases usually happen gradually. Rental fees can sometimes be more unpredictable. An adjustable rate mortgage can result in higher payments. That’s a scenario you should discuss with your lender before selecting a loan.

Appreciation of Your Investment
No one can make any guarantees, but over time most real estate increases in value. If you are careful about your selection and you treat the home kindly it will likely be worth more in five years than it was the day you bought it. Your initial investment may be as little as 3% (or less) of the home’s sales price, but you are the one who benefits from appreciation of the property. Not the bank, not the landlord. You.

Home Equity
Even though interest makes up a good portion of your monthly payment, the amount paid toward the principal increases each month. Paying down the principal increases your equity in the home: the portion of the home’s value that is truly yours should you decide to sell. Appreciation and equity work together, helping you use your initial investment to move into a higher priced home.

The house is yours. You are the only one with the power to allow anyone to enter the house to inspect it. Paint it and decorate it in any way you wish. Put nails in the walls to hang pictures and artwork. Bring home a pet without asking anyone if it’s allowed. It belongs to you.

What comes with the House

Everything about the house you just looked at is perfect. The location is great. The layout is ideal, and the square footage is more than adequate. There’s a built-in spa on the back deck and a charming weathervane on the roof. You’re ready to make an offer before anyone else does. Don’t get in too much of a hurry. There are lots of things to consider before you begin negotiations to buy the house.

Whoa! – Slow Down
Walk through the house again, making a list of items you feel should be part of the purchase price. Just because you regard an item as a permanent fixture does not mean the seller does.

Take Nothing for Granted
Never assume that sellers plan to leave any item behind. The weathervane could be a gift they won’t part with. And it may seem odd that a seller would go to the trouble and expense of removing a built-in spa, but I’ve seen it happen.

If the property is listed with an agency, the Multiple Listing Sheet should include items that are intended to convey with the house. That’s a starting point for your list. Common items you’ll want to include are the range, refrigerator, microwave, and perhaps the washer and dryer.

How about a large mirror over a fireplace mantel, or even the mantel itself. I was involved in one transaction where the seller made it clear from the beginning that the mantel would not remain. But what if the seller forgot to mention that to her agent? Seeing it listed helps make this clear. Other items to consider adding to the list are:

  • Outdoor storage buildings
  • Window treatments
  • Garage door openers
  • Portable air conditioning units
  • Chandeliers and other light fixtures
  • Ceiling fans
  • You might also list items you want to make sure the sellers remove, such as an unused oil storage tank or an old car that doesn’t appear to run.

You are basing your offer on the house as it sits with these items. If you discover that any item will not remain you may wish to reconsider the price.

Where to Put It
There may be space for your list within the offer to purchase. If not, make the list on a separate sheet of paper and attach it as an addendum to the contract, where it must be signed by all parties.

Check It Out At Walk-Through
Take your list along for a final walk-through on the day of closing. If an item is missing, you’ll have more clout to get it back or negotiate a price reduction if you bring it to everyone’s attention before the papers are signed.

Even though most sellers are honest, you should never rely on an oral agreement regarding any aspect of a real estate transaction. The contract should state clearly what stays and what goes, leaving no doubt as to what each party has agreed to.

Quick Tips for the First Time Home Buyer
  • Know why you’re considering a home purchase for the first time.
  • Prioritize with your spouse, partner or co-buyer the most important requirements of your dream home. Address differences and concerns about finances quickly and honestly. Don’t find out there’s a major disagreement a week before closing.
  • Determine which type of home you’re interested in (single-family, condo, or multi-family).
  • Know what kind of neighborhood or town you want to live in: city, small town, suburbs or rural setting. Do you want to be close to schools? Close to work? What kind of amenities or shopping options are you interested in?
  • Create a “wish-list” of what you want in an ideal home.
  • Manage the financial part of the process early:
  • Know how much debt you have, and get rid of as much as you can.
  • Check your credit report. Document and correct errors; save copies of correspondence between you and creditors.
  • Use worksheets and online calculators to determine how much home you can afford and how much of a home loan you’re comfortable paying off.
  • Consider preapproval, versus prequalification, if you’re really ready to buy, and know the differences between the two:
  • Preapproval–your lender does a thorough evaluation of your ability to pay for a home, and can provide you with written confirmation of the mortgage amount.
  • Prequalification–your lender does a preliminary evaluation of your ability to pay for a home, along with an estimate of your mortgage amount.
  • Preapproval demonstrates a serious commitment on your part to the seller, and can be advantageous if you find yourself in a competitive bid process.Make a checklist for your major tasks:• Develop a timeline for the major steps in the process.
  • Give yourself time for preliminary research.
  • Obtain “real” information.
  • Get professionals involved and understand their roles.
  • Check your credit.
  • Prequalify for a mortgage.
  • Consider preapproval if you’re really ready to buy.

Build a Buyer’s Bag, containing:

  • Binders, notebooks, filler-paper and photo protectors
  • A camera for photographing neighborhoods, open houses, and ideal homes
  • Pocket calculator
  • Your research
  • Phone contact list
  • Map of your target city or town
  • Your action list
Buyer Advantage Program

Buyer Guarantee: Buy a home with us! If you don’t like it, we’ll sell it for free and pay you for the hassle.

Advantage Program:

  • One Year Home Warranty with any home purchased
  • Home Buying Guide
  • Powerful and interactive map based property search
  • Sell/Buy Discount: We will cut our listing commission one percent when you’re selling and buying a home.
  • Your Realtor for life program
  • $500.00 Five Hundred Dollars off of your closing costs when using our preferred lender
  • Mortgage Monitoring Service

Contact us to learn more and get signed up on our Buyer Advantage program!

Home Buyer Workshop

Have you been dreaming of buying a home, but aren’t sure how to go about it? Join us for a free Home Buyer Workshop to learn step by step tips to nurture your dream of owning a home.

  • Get information about how to begin
  • Benefits of Homeownership
  • Learn about credit and qualifying for a loan
  • Discover that buying a home maybe easier than you think

We will be holding free Home Buyer Workshops. Pre-registration is required. Please call Phil at 206-234-4591 to RSVP.

First Time Home Buyer Resources

ACORN Housing Corp.
(206) 680- 8838
ACORN is campaigning to remedy the severe lack of affordable housing in the United States. ACORN is working to increase production and rehabilitation through the creation of housing trust funds at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as establishing and demanding enforcement of affordable-housing requirements for developers.

ASHI Western Washington
(425) 290-9964
The American Society of Home Inspectors works to build public awareness of home inspectors and to enhance the technical and professional performance of inspectors. Consumer alerts are posted on the ASHI website and how to find an inspector are listed on the site.

Washington Homeownership Center
(206) 587-5641 or (866) 600-6466
The Washington Homeownership Center (WHC) is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) agency that helps low to moderate-income households in Washington State achieve the dream of homeownership. Since 1996, WHC has provided information about homeownership assistance programs, predatory lending, avoiding foreclosure, lenders, and real estate professionals to over 20,000 families and individuals who hope to become first-time homebuyers.

(WA. State Partnership Office – (206) 839-1540)
The new “For Home Buyers & Homeowners” section helps you get all the information you need to find the Fannie Mae mortgage and Fannie Mae-approved lender that is right for you. As America’s largest source of home mortgage funds, Fannie Mae has developed a large array of innovative mortgage products, available to you through a nationwide network of Fannie Mae-approved lenders. Fannie Mae doesn’t lend money directly to borrowers, but they do want to make sure you have the resources you need when searching for a home and mortgage.

Solid Ground
(206) 694-6700
Solid Ground works to end poverty and undo racism and other oppressions that are root causes of poverty.

We believe our community can move beyond poverty and oppression to a place where all people have access to quality housing, nutritious food, equal justice and opportunities to thrive.

We are committed to working with compassion, integrity, accountability, creativity and an anti-oppression approach to end homelessness, hunger, inequality and other barriers to social justice. We value collaboration and leadership from the communities we serve.

(206) 723-4355 or (888) 749-4663
HomeSight works to create community investment through the development of affordable housing for first-time home owners. HomeSight also serves as a lender to first-time home buyers, making home ownership available to low- and modest-income buyers through purchase assistance. In addition to its lending services, HomeSight provides home buyer education classes, counseling, and housing development.

International District Housing Alliance
(206) 623-5132
IDHA is a non-profit agency committed to building communities and advocating for the needs of low-income residents, especially those with limited English proficiency. The mission of IDHA is to improve the quality of life for International District residents and Asian and Pacific Islanders of grater Seattle by providing low-income housing and related services. Language capacity at our agency covers Chinese (5 dialects) Tagalog, Pangasinan, Vietnamese, Cambodian, some Spanish and Korean.

Seattle-King Co. Coalition for Responsible Lending
(206) 587-5641 or (800) 317-2918
This website offers information and materials to homeowners, housing professionals and others who would like to prevent predatory lending on such topics as: illegal discrimination, how to avoid predatory loans, what you need to know about home loans, where to find a free mortgage counselor to obtain honest advice, a glossary of banking terms, and advocate resources for real estate and housing professionals.

Credit plays a critical part in nearly everyone’s life, but understanding what credit is and how it works can be a challenge. A great way to understand the role credit plays in your life — and to empower yourself as a consumer — is with a basic knowledge of two credit fundamentals – credit scores and credit reports. Get them here.
Learn about your mortgage lending rights as a borrower, how to spot predatory lending, and how to report abuse all on one website.

Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
(206) 461-3792
ULMS services are for low to moderate income households of first time homebuyers, current homeowners and rental tenants. The housing counseling services provided are as follows: Pre-purchase, mortgage default, rental search, landlord tenant, credit and budget classes, home equity conversion program.

WA State HUD/FHA Office
(206) 220-5200
This site is loaded with information on everything from Fair Housing, to predatory lending, to first-time homebuyer resources.

WA State Housing Finance Commission
(206) 767-4663
WSHFC includes a variety of programs for first-time homebuyers including:

Homebuyer Education – helps buyers learn how to purchase and maintain a home. These educational seminars are free and open to the public.

House Key Program – A below-market first mortgage loan program that helps first-time homebuyers (someone who has not owned AND occupied a primary residence at any time in the past three years) purchase a home. Borrowers must meet the program income and acquisition cost limits and must attend and complete a Commission-sponsored homebuyer education seminar. This loan program can be used with FHA, VA, Conventional and Rural Housing Services loan programs. Can include down-payment assistance.

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Areas We Serve in Seattle

We manage real estate all over Seattle, including Ballard, Wallingford, Lake City, Kenmore, Madison Park, & Northgate.

When you’re looking for Seattle property management help and real estate services in Kings County and Puget Sound, South Lake Associates is your expert. We’ve been in business for over 10 years, and we know the local market better than anyone. Whether you’re looking for a home, thinking about investing, or you need help managing your property – we’re your best choice.

If you don’t see your area listed, feel free to reach out to our team and we’ll see if we can work together.

-Queen Anne
-Capitol Hill
-West Seattle
-Lake City

-Madison Park
-Mount Baker
-Phinney Ridge
-Pioneer Square
-South Lake Union
-NE Seattle
-Columbia City

What Our Clients Say

Want to Learn More?

If you’d like to learn more about our properties and what it’s like to work with South Lake Associates, get in touch. We’d be happy to talk more about our rental properties, our application requirements, and our leasing process.

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Phone: 206-452-2001
FAX: 206-452-2004



South Lake Associates
5212 17th Ave NW #6
Seattle, WA 98107

About Us

South Lake Associates is an experienced, full-service real estate brokerage and property management company serving Seattle and the surrounding area.