Get new listings emailed daily! SIGN UP LOGIN

First Choice Realtors Blog

First Choice Realtors Blog Home

Subscribe and receive email notifications of new blog posts.

rss logo RSS Feed
Area Information | 36 Posts
Buy a house | 15 Posts
Home Improvement | 24 Posts
Home Safety | 1 Posts
Home Security | 1 Posts
Moundsville, WV | 2 Posts
Ohio | 1 Posts
Sell Your Home | 12 Posts
West Virginia | 2 Posts
Wheeling, WV | 28 Posts

Buying your first home is a big milestone. Here's how you can make sure it goes without a hitch.

Are you house hunting? What a great adventure! But if you're a first-time buyer, we'd like to dial down your excitement level a little bit and give you a few cautionary tips. Sure, we get that it's a lot of fun to just scroll through images of beautiful homes and imagine yourself living there, but to get from your current address to that new place in Wheeling homes for sale takes a lot more than calling a real estate agent and saying, "I want it!"

Click Here to


There's plenty to do in Wheeling even when it's cold outside. Here are the activities you and your family can do.

Our Wheeling winter weather can be cold and snowy, but that's no reason to hunker down at home. We've got tons of things to get you out of the house and buzzing around town. So if you're considering buying from Wheeling homes for sale, no worries that the winter months will keep you cooped up. As our real estate agents will show you in the list of things to do below, winter presents ample opportunities to get out and about.

Click Here to


For thousands of years, the New Year has been seen as a time of starting over, a time to resolve to begin again, and work toward a better life, with new dreams and goals.

If buying a house is on your list of goals for 2023, here are four things you can do to make sure the home-buying process goes smoothly.

Improve Your Credit Score
Having the highest possible credit score is extremely important if you're financing a home with a mortgage. Higher credit scores mean a greater likelihood that you'll be approved for a loan and with much better interest rates.

Three great ways to improve you score: First, make all your payments on loans, credit cards and utilities on time. Second, do not incur any new debt before applying for a mortgage. Not only does new debt affect your debt-to-income ratio, but every time you apply for credit, the creditor makes an inquiry to your credit report that can lower your score.  And lastly, pay down your credit cards and lines of credit. Using 30 percent or less of your available credit is best.

Lower Your Debt-to-Income Ratio
Your debt-to-income ratio compares how much you owe each month to how much you earn. Specifically, it's the percentage of your gross monthly income (before taxes) that goes towards payments for rent, mortgage, credit cards, or other debt. Most lenders require all your debt payments, including your mortgage, to be 45 percent or less of your gross income, with the mortgage equaling 28 percent or less of your gross. Pay down your existing debt to lower your debt-to-income ratio and refrain from taking on new debt that will increase your ratio. These percentages apply even if you've been pre-approved for a loan. Your loan status can change if your financial situation changes or if your credit score decreases in the time between your pre-approval and the actual granting of the loan.

Grow Your Savings Account
There's more to buying a home than just the purchase price. There are other expenses to consider, including: down payments, inspection fees, lender fees, appraisal fees, moving expenses, utility connection fees, and the cost of any renovations, furnishings, and decorating.

Having a healthy saving account to cover these expenses is important in helping you secure a home loan. Set a monthly savings goal and track where your money is being spent. When you know exactly how much you spend on things like housing, food, transportation, and other essentials, you can then determine what non-essential expenses to cut and how much you can allocate to savings.

Know What You Want & Research the Market
Doing your home-buying homework by knowing the type of home you want and researching the area you're looking to buy in puts you ahead of the game. It helps you understand what properties are available and where they're located, how they're priced, and how quickly they're selling.

But you're not on your own. The professionals at First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate are here to help you navigate the home-buying process and guide you every step of the way. We understand the Northern West Virginia and Eastern Ohio markets better than anyone and can help you identify the right property quickly, determine if it is a good value, and decide how fast you need to move on the purchase.

For more information, reach out to one of our agents.

About First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate

First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate are full-service brokerages representing buyers and sellers of residential and commercial real estate in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and Eastern Ohio. As one of the valley's premier and top selling brokerages, First Choice serves West Virginia with locations in Wheeling, Moundsville, Weirton, and Wellsburg. FCR Real Estate, located in St. Clairsville, Ohio, serves Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson, Guernsey, and Harrison counties.

First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate, when buying or selling…we're THE RIGHT CHOICE.


Think you can try shopping alone for your dream house? Here's why you definitely want an agent's help.

Looking things up on the Internet has given us all a sense of power — so much so that we sometimes make the mistake of thinking we're instant experts. Whether we're self-diagnosing an ailment in place of a doctor's visit or looking for a way to make that mutt we adopted during the pandemic more tractable, it seems like there's a solution for everything on the web. Unfortunately, bypassing an expert doesn't always work to our advantage.

Click Here to


First Choice Realtors, one of the Northern Panhandle's leading real estate brokerages, is pleased to announce an expansion into Eastern Ohio with the opening of its sister company, FCR Real Estate.

The new agency is located at 51461 Jennifer Lane, Suite 204, in St. Clairsville and is owned by First Choice partners Kevin McGilton and Tom Carpenter. Carpenter, a highly regarded and award-winning realtor with over 25 years of experience, will serve as broker.

"Since our founding in 1997, the First Choice Realtors team has expertly served the real estate needs of our many happy and satisfied clients in West Virginia," said Carpenter. "And now, with our new company, FCR Real Estate, we look forward to continuing that service, and being The Right Choice for buyers and sellers throughout Eastern Ohio as well."

Initially, Carpenter will be joined in the Ohio location by realtors Amanda Sabatino and Tammy Slater, with several other agents slated to come on board in the very near future. 

"First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate provides our agents with exceptional sales, marketing and administrative support, designed to give them a distinct advantage over the competition," said Carpenter. "If you're an agent looking to grow your real estate business with a brokerage grounded in the principles of integrity and transparency, dedicated to always doing right by our agents and clients, then we want to talk to you."

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned for mid-January at the new St. Clairsville location. 

For more information, contact First Choice Realtors at 304-242-9601, FCR Real Estate at 740-650-5302, or Tom Carpenter at 304-280-4003.

About First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate

First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate are full-service brokerages representing buyers and sellers of residential and commercial real estate in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and Eastern Ohio. As one of the valley's premier and top selling brokerages, First Choice serves West Virginia with locations in Wheeling, Moundsville, Weirton, and Wellsburg. FCR Real Estate, located in St. Clairsville, Ohio, serves Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson, Guernsey, and Harrison counties. 

First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate -- when buying or selling…we're THE RIGHT CHOICE.


Shopping locally for holiday gifts helps the community, and what you'll find is often better than online. Here are the Wheeling shops you should stop by.

Seems like most people easily jumped on that Internet ordering train for the holidays during the pandemic, and yes, it's hard to get off. But if you've become aware of the "Shop Local" trend, you know it's a worthy thing to do. Advocates extol shopping local for the way it helps us build relationships within our communities while supporting the local economy and building a more vibrant society. After all, what could be better than supporting our neighbors near Wheeling homes for sale?

Our real estate agents are great supporters of everything local, so they've compiled a brief list of fabulous Wheeling stores where you can finish up your holiday shopping. So go for it. Your Wheeling neighbors are waiting for you.

Click Here to


Upgrading your kitchen can pay off big when it comes time to sell your home. Here's where you should focus your efforts.

The average cost of a kitchen upgrade is around $26,000, according to Home Advisor. Gulp, indeed. Sad to say, most homeowners can't afford to spring for that when planning upgrades so they can sell their homes.

But the kitchen is the room that can make or break a sale. As you plan to list your home among Wheeling homes for sale, you should definitely figure on some upgrades to the kitchen so it will look fresh and modern. Gungy and dark just won't do. At the same time, you don't want to invest more than you can recoup.

Our real estate agents can advise you about what sort of kitchen upgrades can help sell your home. Let's look at a few.

Click Here to


Sunny skies and cool, crisp evenings are probably why I love November so much. I was feeling the love of this weather until the weather person on a local TV station entirely ruined my day when they talked about the next weeks weather. "Cloudy with a mixture of rain and snow in the morning."

For some reason, just hearing the words "cloudy" and "snow" ruined me. It's too early to start this ugly rainy/snowy mixture crap. I am not mentally prepared for this. But it is bound to happen sooner or later, so I better be ready for it.   

On a brighter note, I am prepared for some of the other things that November brings. 

November means fireplaces will be on, making your home warm and cozy. It means you get an extra hour of sleep when daylight savings time ends on November 6th. It means the Holiday Season starts up when Moundsville, Wheeling, St. Clairsville and Weirton all have their Christmas Parades scheduled in November. It means Thanksgiving Day, when food is endless, football is non-stop, and families are all gathered. It means Black Friday madness, when only the brave venture out in the early hours of the morning to snag up the best deals and sales. It means Small Business Saturday, when it's time to show the love to all the small local business owners, providing them with the profits instead of the big box stores who probably never support your local events, and owners live elsewhere in the country. 

And guess what? There are other very important dates in November too….

One of those days is November 8th which is Election Day. This is the day that your voice can be heard by voting for the people who you feel can make the best changes that will affect YOU and your family, your business or your job, or your values. This is a very important day, and everyone is urged to exercise their rights by voting.

And by far, probably one of the most important dates in November is Veterans Day, November 11th. Veteran's Day originated as "Armistice Day" on November 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veteran's Day pays tribute to all American Veteran's, living or dead, but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.   

Some of the Veteran's Day activities locally include: 

The American Legion Post. No. 3 Moundsville will be holding an Open House on Veteran's Day.  The ceremony will take place at 11am at the Marshall County Courthouse grounds or at Central Elementary, depending on the weather. There will be a luncheon at the post home after the ceremony for veterans and their families.

In addition, the Moundsville Veterans Honor Guard and the Northern Panhandle Veterans Council will be holding a benefit steak fry from 5-8 p.m. on Nov. 12 at the American Legion Post No. 3, at 800 First St., Moundsville. Entertainment will be provided from 8-11 p.m. by a D.J. Tickets can be purchased at the American Legion.

There are many other cities that honor our Veterans with ceremonies, please check with your local area to get the times. And make sure you attend one. It is a great time to honor and thank them for providing us the freedom that we have today.

In wrapping up, let's remember to take some time this month to give Thanks for all you have. Take the time to be extra nice to someone, because you never know what that person may be dealing with. Donate to a charity. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or an animal shelter (animals need love too). Be generous with your compliments. Tip your server a little extra. Just try to make a difference. We are all in this together!

Have a wonderful November from all of us at First Choice Realtors.