This is it. You've been renting, or living with mom and dad, for long enough. You're ready to invest in your future. You've managed to save up something resembling a down payment, you've been window shopping on Zillow for months now, and you know exactly what you want.
So...where do you go from here? We all like the "fun" part...shopping for a house. But if you're serious about making the move to a new place, you'll want to keep a few things in mind, even before you visit your first open house.
We asked our mortgage team what the #1 piece of advice they have for first time home buyers would be. Ready for some tips?
"My number one piece of advice is be informed! Explore all loan options and really make sure you are choosing the right program that truly fits your needs. A lot of first time buyers don't realize how many options are available and can be overwhelmed. I try to make it as simple as possible and do side by side comparisons so they can see everything in black and white."
"If you plan to start house hunting in the near future, the most important thing you should do is to meet with your lender and get pre-approved. This is especially true in this hot real estate market where we have an unusually low supply of homes for sale. Once you find that perfect house, you must
be in a position to make an offer immediately or face the very likely possibility of losing it. Having a pre-approval letter in hand greatly increases your chances of your offer being accepted."
"Check to see if your mortgage servicing will be sold after closing. This can be very confusing and frustrating for a first time homebuyer. Unfortunately if you are getting a government loan, FHA, USDA or VA, you have no choice. This means you will or will not always make your payment to the same place and with people you know."
"Talk to a mortgage officer and get a preapproval, then you will know how much you can spend on your 1st home, what payment is best for you, and if there is any grant money available. Also seek the help of a realtor, who can guide you thru the process of the purchase contract."
Gather as much information as possible. Are you a first time homebuyer? If so, does your bank offer any special programs for you? Ask about early termination fees or when you rate is locked in and for how long? Also, what kind of service are you purchasing? Is it going to be local, so you can ask your lender questions even after the purchase process is over? All too often I have customer’s come in to refinance because they are frustrated with the service they are receiving from another institution.
"Don’t go with the easy option of filling out a random company’s online application to get preapproved because it’s quick and easy… sit down and talk to someone. Having that conversation can bring up a lot of questions that you may not think about. Check out ALL your options. List your goals…do you want a smaller monthly payment, or do you want to not bring as much to the closing table so you have extra funds available to put into the house. Just do your homework and truly try and look at all of your possibilities."
"I would say my #1 piece of advice is to not rush into buying a home. Do your homework and make sure you are ready for the responsibilities that come along with being a homeowner. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others, whether that be family members, a financial advisor, a mentor, or even a mortgage lender to make sure you have dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s before you make the commitment. Once these questions have been answered, trust those who gave you advice and move forward with confidence."