The home-buying process can be daunting, particularly for the first-timer. Liz Pulliam Weston with MSN Real Estate suggests the following timeline as an ideal one for someone purchasing their first home. Of course the steps can be accomplished in far less time, particularly if you employ trusted industry experts for advice. 

As soon as possible (Ms. Pulliam Weston suggests one year)

Obtain a copy of your credit report. In the US, the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion offer free credit reports. You should scan the report for errors: accounts that aren't yours and other mistakes will negatively impact your credit and may cause you to pay higher interest rates. Errors and mistakes can usually be dealt with and usually without assistance from an attorney. If you are outside the US in a country without a formal credit tracking system contact a local lender and ask them if you have doubts about your ability to finance a home purchase. Lenders can have vastly different opinions about late payments, repossessions and bankruptcies depending largely upon how badly they want to make the loan.  

Improve your credit rating.
In the US most mortgage lenders use the FICO credit scoring formula. For $50 you can buy your FICO score for all 3 credit reporting agencies at In the US or not, you can improve your credit standing by avoiding late payments, pay down credit cards and don't open or close any new accounts while you're in the market for a mortgage. 

Deal with your debt. 
Eradicate high interest 'toxic' loans: credit card balances and pay-day loans because they are indicators you are living beyond your means. Low interest debt such as student loans or auto loans generally won't present an obstacle.  

Save, save, save.
You will have more financing options the more money you have to put down. 5% is minimum but 10% is better and if you can demonstrate that you saved this money on your own over a period of time, so much the better. Don't show up at the mortgage lender's office flush with a cash infusion from Uncle Bob. That doesn't show character. But if you can accumulate the down payment over a period of time by avoiding eating out, dropping your cable TV subscription or other, that does.  

Put your bills on automatic.
Use on-line bill paying and the recurring payment feature. Better yet, consider using automatic debt payments so that the bill is paid directly from your checking account. A single late payment can harm your chances of getting the loan to purchase your dream home. 

Next Week: 6 months out 

Breakfast at Tiffany's benefit at the Ritz-Carlton attracted about 200 donors for the annual Cayman Islands Cancer Society fundraiser. 

On Cayman Brac, one Christmas tradition centres around the Lions Club's Santa Claus riding through the island on Christmas Day delivering gifts to the children. It is also customary for the club members to visit the homes of the elderly and personally deliver gifts to them before Christmas Day. 

The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman's annual Christmas Tree lighting was held in Celebrations Square in George Town Dec. 1. The lighting has been an annual event of the Rotary Club for 43 years. 

Barnes Dance Academy Ltd, in collaboration with Hopscotch Studios and Celebrations, hosted its 4th Annual Community Christmas Parade on Dec 6 in Heroes Square, downtown George Town. 

Cayman Islands Crisis Center will receive proceeds from the sale of Christmas ornaments at their Enchanted Christmas Store in the Mirco Centre. The ornaments are available in Flame Red and Velvet Green. 

We could go on - but you can see the variety of fun and worthwhile events throughout the Caymans this time of year! 

I am still trying to gather information on the Brac and timetables to return to business so to speak. Power is being restored to essential areas in Stake Bay not far from the Power Plant such as the hospital and District Administration Building. With our office located on the south west side, we are looking at a few weeks before power is restored. This may change as more crews and help arrive.  

Government is saying about 4 months before tourism and non essential businesses return as any rental rooms that do become available will be used for government officials and those involved in the recovery process. In some aspects recovery for the Brac will be faster than we experienced in Ivan and in some aspects it will be slower.

Very attractive opportunity on Jellico Quay in Governor's Harbour. See it here. Three bed, 3 bath on 110 ft. canal frontage. Rare opportunity to own a canal front home in Governor's Harbour. Attractive layout. This home is perfect for the local executive or yachtsman looking for a retirement home. Dock in place. Easy access to Cayman's North Sound play ground. This home is in need of cosmetic repairs from Hurricane Ivan including dry wall repairs and furniture replacement. A great opportunity to customize to your own taste.

Grand Cayman is a great place to visit with kids. You will enjoy the island more if you rent a car, because many of the most enjoyable activities for kids are outside George Town. Either bring your own car-seat or ask your rental car agency to provide one. Treat driving in Cayman the same way you would at home. There are many roundabouts which need not phase you if you remember to always give way to traffic on your right. 


Top of the list is the new attraction Boatswains Beach. This is a whole day affair, and you should plan accordingly. Visit Cayman Street and see traditional Cayman toys being made, and try some local food. Enjoy the fun of snorkeling in the saltwater lagoon with beautiful tropical fish. Take a swim in the freshwater lagoon and play in the waterfall. While in West Bay, visit Hell and take pictures with the brightly costumed Devil, whose name is "Mr Ivan." Send postcards home postmarked Hell, or bring your own postcards and have them stamped Hell Post Office. 


Just off Seven Mile Beach is the Butterfly Farm. This is a small attraction, but young kids love it. Right next to the Butterfly Farm is a kids indoor playroom called Smyles. This is safe, supervised fun, and you can leave your little one for an hour of so while you do something on your own. Right next to Smyles is a Baskin Robbins, ice cream is a must in the tropics. Or you can cross the street and have Italian Gelato. 


When you are ready to take another day trip, head towards North Side. This is a sleepy little village, home to famous Rum Point Club. Drive towards Rum Point Club and the Kaibo. Before you get to the Kaibo there is a road on your left leading to "The Hut". Drive along this until you reach Mr Willie's Farm. depending on the season you can buy fresh fruits like mangoes, and you can see the sows and the piglets, and any other animals Mr Willie happens to have around. You can also see the Cayman Whistling ducks, which are protected. 


Leaving Mr Willie's continue on to the Kaibo, on Water Cay Road. At the end of this road is a clean, well-kept park with picnic tables and benches. You can swim in the shallow water, or search for shells. If you have kids 10 years and over you might choose to go on a kayak tour of the mangroves. Go back to the main road, and continue on to Rum Point Club where you can lie in hammocks (with any luck the little ones might have a nap), swim, snorkel, and have lunch or cold drinks. 


If you aren't too tired by now, on the way back stop at the Botannic Park and see the Blue Iguanas. You can find out more about the program to protect Cayman's rare iguanas, and the location of all the painted iguanas throughout the island. Now when you spot these brightly painted iguanas (there is one near the Post Office in Central George Town) you will know why they are there. 


On another day, you head east from George Town towards East End. East End was the district hardest hit by Hurricane Ivan, but the people are making a valiant effort to recover. This is the most scenic route in Cayman. Your are driving right along the coast, and continue until you reach the Reef Resort. On your way, you might be lucky and see people selling coconut water, which is a real treat. The Reef is a very special spot for walks, snorkling or just playing in the sand. 


The National Trust of the Cayman Islands is located on South Church Street just along from the harbour. Go in and see what they have going on, they have great kids programs, including Movie Night. 


Many visitors enjoy the Cayman Humane Society's Book Loft. This is a second hand bookstore with lots of great children's books, and a wide selection of reading material for adults. All money earned goes to feed and shelter the islands stray cats and dogs. Donations of cash, or books are gratefully accepted. There are always puppies and kittens to see, and some people enjoy a nose-around of the Thrift Shop as well. 


Opposite the cruise ship landing is the Cayman Craft market, where Caymanians sell handmade jewellry and trinkets. Look for the little white tents near the Paradise Bar and Grill. 


The Cayman Islands is full of natural wonders for kids to enjoy and learn from. The people are friendly, and the islanders love kids, so relax and enjoy! 


This article was taken directly from tripadvisor, to view the original article click here