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List of Partners vendors. Buying a home can be challenging for a first-timer. After all, there are so many steps, tasks, and requirements, and you may be anxious about making an expensive mistake. But first-time homebuyers actually enjoy some special advantages created to encourage new entrants into the real estate market. To demystify the process so you get the most out of your purchase, here is a rundown of what you need to consider before you buy and what you can expect from the buying process itself, plus tips to make life easier after you buy your first home.
Buying a home is still considered a key aspect of the American dream. A first-time homebuyer, according to the U. Your first step is to determine what your long-term goals are and how homeownership fits in with those goals. Or maybe you see homeownership as a of independence and enjoy the idea of being your own landlord.
Also, buying a home can be a good investment. Narrowing down your big-picture homeownership goals will point you in the right direction. Here are six questions to consider:. Before clicking through s of online listings or falling in love with your dream home, do a serious audit of your finances.
You need to be prepared for both the purchase and the ongoing expenses of a home. Follow these steps:. Look at your savings. When you buy a home, there will be considerable up-front costs, including the down payment and closing costs. You need money put away not only for those costs but also for your emergency fund. Lenders will require it. Review your spending. This calculation will tell you how much you can allocate to a mortgage payment. Check your credit.
You have a of options when purchasing a residential property: a traditional single-family home, a duplex, a townhouse, a condominium , a co-operative , or a multifamily building with two to four units. Each option has its pros and cons, depending on your homeownership goals, so you need to decide which type of property will help you reach those goals.
You can save on the purchase price in any category by choosing a fixer-upper, but be forewarned: The amount of time, sweat equity, and money required to turn a fixer-upper into your dream home might be a lot more than you bargained for. Your list should include basic desires, like size and neighborhood, all the way down to smaller details like bathroom layout and a kitchen fitted with durable appliances.
Scanning real estate websites can help you get a sense of the pricing and availability of properties offering the features that are most important to you. Make sure to get pre-approved for a loan before placing an offer on a home. You do this by applying for a mortgage and completing the necessary paperwork.
It is beneficial to shop around for a lender and to compare interest rates and fees by using a tool like a mortgage calculator or Google searches. Mortgage lending discrimination is illegal. Sometimes a bank will give you a loan for more house than you really want to pay for. Consider how high the property taxes are in your chosen neighborhood, how much homeowners insurance will cost, how much you anticipate spending to maintain or improve the house, and how much your closing costs will be.
A real estate agent will help you locate homes that meet your needs and are in your price range, then meet with you to view those homes. This can be a chaotic time, with offers and counteroffers flying furiously, but if you are prepared for the hassle and the paperwork , then you can get through the process with your sanity intact. Here is the basic progression that you can expect:. Make sure to take advantage of all the available options for finding homes on the market, including using your real estate agent, searching for listings online , and driving around the neighborhoods that interest you in search of for-sale s.
Put out some feelers with your friends, family, and business contacts. You never know where a good reference or lead on a home might come from. First-time homebuyers should look for a house that they can add value to, as this ensures a bump in equity to help them up the property ladder.
First-time homebuyers have a wide variety of options to help them get into a home—both those available to any purchaser, including Federal Housing Authority FHA -backed mortgages , and those geared especially to novices. Be sure to look into or consider:. Fees can be surprisingly varied. Mortgage interest rates—which, of course, have a major impact on the total price that you pay for your home—can also vary.
The lender can pre-approve the borrower for a certain amount. Be aware that even if you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, your loan can fall through at the last minute if you do something to alter your credit score , such as finance a car purchase. Some authorities also recommend having a backup lender.
Clients may loan and escrow documents, then be notified 24 to 48 hours before the closing that the lender has frozen funding on their loan program. Having a second lender that has already qualified you for a mortgage gives you an alternate way to keep the process on, or close to, schedule. Your real estate agent will help you decide how much money you want to offer for the house, along with any conditions you want to ask for. You can then accept, or continue to go back and forth until you either reach a deal or decide to call it quits. Before submitting your offer, take another look at your budget.
For example, you might request energy bills from the past 12 months to get an idea of average monthly costs. Alternatively, you can negotiate to have the seller make the repairs or discount the selling price. Closing basically involves ing a ton of paperwork in a very short time period, while praying that nothing falls through at the last minute. Other closing costs can include loan origination fees, title insurance , surveys, taxes, and credit report charges.
Game over, right? Not quite. Homeownership costs extend beyond down payments and monthly mortgage payments. With homeownership comes major unexpected expenses, such as replacing the roof or getting a new water heater. Start an emergency fund for your home so that you won't be caught off guard when these costs inevitably arise. Regular maintenance can decrease your repair costs by allowing problems to be fixed when they are small and manageable.
Being able to choose when you sell your home, rather than being forced to sell it due to job relocation or financial distress , will be the biggest determinant of whether you will see a solid profit from your investment. Even though you own a home, you should do your best to save the maximum in your retirement savings s every year. Also, retirees often want to stay put despite all the articles you see about downsizing or retiring in exotic locales. This overview should help put you on the path to filling in any gaps in your homebuying knowledge.
Remember that the more you educate yourself about the process beforehand, the less stressful it will be, and the more likely you will be to get the house you want for a price you can afford. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Internal Revenue Service. Accessed July 23, Washington State Housing Finance Commission.
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Popular Courses. Part Of. Getting Started. Finding Your Home. Protect Yourself. Mortgage Basics. The Buying Process. Home Ownership Purchasing A Home. Table of Contents Expand. The First-Time Homebuyer Advantage. Congratulations, New Homeowner! Now What? The Bottom Line. Key Takeaways First-time homebuyers, as defined by the U. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD , can get help from state programs, tax breaks, and federally backed loans.
Before you begin looking, consider the type of residence that will serve your needs, what you can afford, how much financing you can secure, and who will help you conduct your search. Buying a home involves finding the property, securing financing, making an offer, getting a home inspection, and closing on the purchase. Article Sources. Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts.Looking for help my first time
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First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide