Tips for First-Time Home Buyers
A successful home buying experience is all like any big project, a successful home buying experience is all about getting the details right from start to finish. These tips for first-time homebuyers will help you with all the process:
1. You should start saving money before considering buying home
When you decide to save for a home, these are the things you want to consider:
Down payment: Your down payment requirement will depend on the lender and the type of mortgage. Fees as little as 3% are allowed for first-time homebuyers by some traditional loans. But these small down payments can be a very challenging way for you to save. You can use a down payment calculator to set this, for example, a 3% down payment on a $250,000 home is $8,750.
Closing costs: are the fees you pay to finalize the mortgage process, which range usually from 2% to 5% of the loan amount. The seller should be requested by you to pay a part of your closing cost. There you can save some expenses.
Move-in expenses: We all know when buying a home we may need some cash. You should consider setting aside some money for home repairs, home updates, and furniture.
2. Figure out how much you can afford
You should figure out how much you can spend on a house before starting the process of shopping.
By making calculations, based on your income and your debts, your credit score, you should be able to set a price range.
3. Try to strengthen your credit score
If you want to know if you are qualified for a mortgage - you should check your credit score. This also can affect the interest rate lenders will offer.
Your credit score can be strengthened if you take these steps:
Credit reports - are the free copies you should take from credit bureaus — and then discuss any errors that could damage your score.
Keeping your credit balances low and paying your bill is one of the ways to strengthen your credit score.
Keep your current credit cards open - because closing a card will lower your score.
4. Explore the mortgage options
There are a lot of mortgages that can be great options for you as a first-time buyer. They differ on the eligibility requirements. Below are the best options you can look for:
Conventional mortgages are usually not backed up by governments. Some common loans that are targeted by first-time buyers require as little as 3% down.
The second options are FHA loans. They are guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration and can allow fees down to 3.5%.
USDA loans are backed up by the (U.S. Department of Agriculture). These loans are perfect for rural homebuyers - and require no payment.
VA is another type of loan that is guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans are allowed to use these types of loans - they require no payment.
There are a lot of options in the mortgage terms. Most homebuyers seek a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which has an interest rate that stays the same. As everyone knows that a 15-year loan has a lower interest rate, but the monthly fees are higher.
5. Research first-time homebuyer assistance programs
A lot of states provide different programs for first-time homebuyers, which have low-interest rate mortgages.
Some of the programs offer tax credits too.
6. Compare mortgage rates and fees
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends requesting loan calculations for the same type of mortgage from various lenders to compare the costs.
Discount points - are sometimes the opportunity that is offered by lenders, where the borrower can pay a lower interest rate.
If you do have the money in cash, and you are planning to stay there for a long time - great way is to use discount points.
7. Get a preapproval letter
The lender can offer you to loan a certain amount under specific terms, this is often called a mortgage pre-approval.
If you have a pre-approval letter you can show home sellers and real estate agents that you are a very serious buyer, and it can be an advantage over other home shoppers.
When everything seems good to start home shopping - apply for pre-approval. Reviewing your documents to verify your income and debts - is what a letter will do.
If you choose to apply for pre-approval from more than one lender, it doesn't hurt your credit score, as long as you apply in 30 days.
Note: "On many websites it is claimed that real estate agent's commission rates are 6%. While this has been true for the last 20 years, now it's statistically outdated. In 2021, the actual average real estate commission rate is 5.46% in the USA."