Buying a home for the first time can seem intimidating, but it does not have to feel that way. In under 10 minutes, our guide will help you be a smarter first-time home buyer.
Buying your first home is an exciting prospect, especially if you’ve been renting for years. While you’re daydreaming about paint colors, herb gardens and a world without landlords, however, keep in mind that with all the excitement comes a lot of preparation and paperwork. There are many steps you’ll have to take if you’re purchasing a home for the first time. Moreover, from pre-qualifying for a mortgage to closing, the process can take weeks. It requires careful planning, but the end result is a property you can finally call home sweet home.
Here at MaraiD Lending (d/b/a MaraiD Lending Group), we take pride in the fact that we can provide some of the quickest closing times in the industry. As a continuation of that commitment to excellent customer service, we’re happy to walk first-timers through the home buying process.
Do Your Research
Research literally doing your homework … is vital. You don’t want to end up buying a house that you’re unhappy with just because it was the first one that caught your eye. Before you hit the MLS listings or start driving around your dream neighborhood looking for signs reading “For Sale,” you need not only to know what you want, but also to establish what you can afford.
Determine What You Need and What You Want
A great way to narrow down your options is to start with a needs and wants list. List any non-negotiable factors under your “needs” column. If you have a large or growing family, this may be a specific number of bedrooms. If you’re a car enthusiast or a woodworker, the size of the garage may be a deal-breaker for you. If you or someone in your family has limited mobility, it may be crucial that your new home be a single-story structure. It’s necessary that you discuss these factors as, otherwise, you may find yourself in a perfectly attractive home that simply doesn’t work for you.
On the other hand, the “wants” column should be reserved for those things you may desire but which you’re ultimately willing to live without. Maybe this is a double sink in your master bathroom, a large yard for the dogs or even an extra bedroom for that home office you’ve always dreamed of having. Documenting these needs and wants in a ranked list will help you determine what’s essential and make the process of selecting a home much easier.
Determining if You’re Ready for the Commitment of Buying a Home
Buying a house is a big commitment, so before you start house hunting and comparing mortgage rates, take the time to examine your current situation and how it could change in the future.
- Are you planning on any major life changes, like changing jobs or starting a family, in the next few years that could impact your financial situation?
- Can you commit to staying in a home for at least five years?
- Do you have a stable income?
- Are you confident you can handle house repairs (or can take the time to learn), or are you willing to pay a specialist when something breaks
How to Evaluate Your Financial Situation Before Buying a House
Buying a home is one of the largest purchases you’ll likely make, and it’s important to make sure your financial house is in order. Start by reviewing your bank accounts and billing statements to get a handle on how much money you’re making and spending each month. If you’re planning to buy a house with someone else (like your spouse), review their finances as well, and then ask yourself some questions:
- Do you have a stable income/job?
- Are you able to put away some money each month into a savings account?
- Do you have a plan for managing debt, like student loans and car payments?
- Do you typically pay your credit card debt quickly? Keeping your credit debt low will help you qualify for a better mortgage.
- Do you have some money already saved up for emergencies? A good rule of thumb is having three months of income saved.
- Do you have some money saved up for a down payment and closing costs? You should avoid using your emergency savings for this, or you could put yourself in a tight situation.
What Type Of Home Suits You?
Residential properties come in many varieties, and you’ll need to determine which kind is best for you and your family. Duplexes, condos, townhomes and co-ops are all located in attached multi-family buildings, putting you in very close proximity to your neighbors. However, these properties may cost less than a single-family home. Single-family homes can provide more privacy but may come with more upkeep and maintenance duties, from keeping the lawn mowed to fixing those leaky faucets.
Beyond type of home, you’ll also have to consider whether you prefer new construction, an existing home or maybe even a fixer-upper (if you’re handy). Each has its pros and cons, all of which should be weighed before you make a decision.
How Will You Pay?
Buying a house is a big expense but can be a worthwhile investment. The cost of the home itself is just one item for which you need to budget. You should consider the cost of hiring a home inspector, having the home appraised and paying closing costs, just to names a few examples. Before embarking on the home buying journey, it’s vital that you perform an honest evaluation of your assets and income. Otherwise, you won’t be able to make a realistic determination about what you can afford.
The evaluation is needed regardless of if you are purchasing the home outright or financing the purchase with a mortgage, which is the most common way to purchase a home. And, there’s a lot to consider before applying for a home loan.
Consider Your Savings
When buying a home, first take account of your upfront costs. Upfront costs will include your earnest money, down payment, and closing costs. The closing costs include appraisal fees, origination fees, points, homeowners insurance premiums, and title fees to name a few. Closing costs may not be covered by your mortgage in most cases and will need to be paid out-of-pocket at the time of closing.
Your down payment will vary based on your financial situation, credit worthiness, the value and price of the home being purchased, and the loan program for which you are approved. For example, conventional loans will require a down payment anywhere from 3 percent to 20 percent of the purchase price of the home. Putting 20 percent or more down will likely lead to savings on your monthly mortgage payments. Closing costs vary by mortgage principal and term. The most common home loan terms are 15 and 30 years.
Which Mortgage Is Right For You?
You have several options for financing your home purchase with a home loan. A conventional mortgage conforms to government standards determined by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Federal Housing Administration loans (FHA) are also government-managed and come with additional qualification requirements. Many FHA loans also have lower down payment requirements, depending upon the borrower’s financial situation.
The VA Loans program is a special program to help active military and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces purchase a home. VA loans can require no down payment at all in certain cases. To determine which kind of loan makes the most sense for your budget, it’s best to consult with a mortgage professional.
Find a Experienced Realtor
When purchasing your first home, it’s both wise and prudent to lean on those who are familiar with the industry. A real estate agent can be your best partner. He or She will help you find a property that meets your specifications and requirements. They’ll also help you negotiate and can answer market-related questions such as when is the best time of year to be looking to buy a home.
Find a Good Mortgage Broker
To find an experienced mortgage broker, your Realtor can help you. Your mortgage Loan Consultant that will be among your most important resources once it’s time to turn your offer into a purchase. This industry professional will liaise with key players in the real estate finance transaction to help you obtain financing for your home. Beyond helping you attain the funds to purchase your first home, your Loan Consultant can identify programs that fit your unique needs and help to ensure that the process goes seamlessly from start to finish.
Some states and other entities even sponsor special home loan programs for first-time buyers that can benefit you greatly. Ask your Loan Consultant what is available in your area.
Find Your Dream Home
Before hitting the open houses or even considering making an offer on your dream home, it is a good idea to meet with your Loan Consultant to pre-qualify you for a loan*. Doing so will arm you with the knowledge of how much of a house you could afford based on the information you provide. You will also be provided a pre-qualification letter that can provide sellers an added level of confidence that you will be able to purchase their home.
Now, it’s time to find the home that will fit your needs. Your real estate professional will help with this part of the process. Once you find your home, make an offer and get under contract, the next stage begins … applying for your mortgage loan and going through the remainder of the mortgage process.
Apply for a Mortgage
Obtaining a mortgage requires a deep dive into your finances, including examining pay stubs, W2s, past tax returns, bank statements and more. This process will begin after you submit your mortgage loan application. Gathering all of this information can be overwhelming, but your Loan Consultant will be there to help.
Now it is time to determine the loan programs for which you may be approved. Your Loan Consultant will provide you with program details, loan comparisons, and pricing to help you decide. Once you have designated a program you feel is best, your Loan Consultant’s team will prepare your request and submit it to underwriting.
If approved, you may be asked to supply additional documentation such as documentation of your down payment source, further information on your income, etc. Your loan approval will also require documentation from other sources to achieve a full approval and clear to close decision. Let’s cover a few of these examples.
Once your dream home’s sellers have accepted your offer, you may be required to obtain an inspection. Hiring an inspector is the responsibility of the buyer, but it’s not a corner we recommend being cut even if it is not a requirement of your loan approval. An inspector will examine your future home for any structural issues and will deliver a full report.
The inspector’s report will help you make an educated decision on whether to move forward with purchasing the property. After the inspection, you can decide whether to ask the sellers to make improvements, fixes or adjust their asking price.
The next inspection of the home will be required by your mortgage company and most loan programs is the appraisal. An appraiser will be sent to the home to make sure the price is accurate based on a physical inspection of the home (not to be confused with the home inspector’s review) and comparable properties in the area (“comps”) as well as any upgrades that have been made to the property or will be required as a condition of a renovation loan.
Following inspection, appraisal and final approval of your mortgage, you will be clear to close and your closing date will be confirmed. You will receive additional loan documentation to review and accept prior closing and your Loan Consultant will help you answer any questions you may have concerning those documents.
At closing, you’ll review the legal documentation related to the home sale with a representative from the title company or attorney’s office handling your real estate purchase. Your Loan Consultant and real estate agent may also be present.
Be ready to read and sign many legal documents. Don’t be shy about asking questions of your title officer or closing attorney. They’re present to facilitate the process. Once all documents have been signed and notarized and all closing costs have been paid, the title of the home will officially transfer to you. Congratulations, new homeowner!
Know 5 Benefits You Can Enjoy By Being A First Buyer
1- Low Down Payment or No Down Payment Loans
2- Grants or Loans: ”Free Money” that you can use for your Closing Expenses or for your Down Payment
3- Loans have Lower Interest
4- You are Allowed a Greater % of Debts
5- Help with Fees: There are limits on how much banks can charge you for giving you a loan.
Get Started Now
It’s time to get on your path to homeownership. Contact us now to start on this exciting journey today. MaraiD Lending offers a variety of mortgage solutions, including programs that may appeal to first-time home buyers such as Home Possible® (offered by Freddie Mac) and HomeOne™ (offered by Fannie Mae).
At MaraiD Lending, we pride ourselves on our hands-on, customer-driven approach to lending. We offer stability, security and peace of mind to anyone searching for their starter home. Contact us now Contact@MaraidLending.com … and let us help you buy your home.