First Time Home Buyer? Do your “home”work!

Are you thinking about buying your first home?  Congratulations!!  It’s an exciting thing to think about, but if you’ve never done it before, it can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating!  There’s a lot to consider and there will be a lot of hoops to jump through before you get the keys to your very own home.  But, with planning, determination, and most importantly, guidance from a professional REALTOR and a reputable lender, you can do it and the process can be smooth and relatively easy

Probably the first thing you’ll think of is jumping on the internet and looking at homes!!  What fun!  So many choices!  Where to begin??

First order of business:  Do your “home”work!

Are you really ready to buy a home?  Unless you plan to pay cash for a home, you’ll need to qualify for a mortgage loan.  Talk to a mortgage lender and find out if you have what it takes to be approved for a loan.  And, just exactly what does it take to get that approval?  The answer depends on your particular circumstances, but here’s a quick list of what a lender is looking for, in very basic terms:

1. A history of financial responsibility–i.e. your credit score.  How much debt do you have?  How are you handling it?  Do you pay your bills on time?  Do you have a good rental payment history?

2. An ability to repay the loan–your income/employment history.  Are  you employed?  Self-employed?  How much money do you make?  How long have you been at your current job?  How many jobs have you had?  Do you have a stable “work history”?

3.  “Skin in the game”–how much money do you have for a down payment on a house?   Do you have savings?  How much?  How long?  Are you getting help from family members?  How much?  Will it be a gift or will you have to pay it back?  How long have you had it?

If you have “issues” with any of these items, you may not be ready to buy a home right away.  Talk to a mortgage lender and find out what you need to do to get yourself  “in shape” for the homebuying process.  If you need to work some things out, now’s the time to  begin that shape-up so you’ll be fit and ready to go for the springtime busy season!   Lending rules have changed.  They’re a lot tighter now than just a couple of years ago.  And they’re changing all the time!   My recommendation?  Find a lender in your local area who’s familiar with the market where you are and knows the loan programs that are available in your market.  If you don’t have a lender, your real estate professional likely knows several he or she can recommend.

Getting pre-approved gives you the peace of mind to know that when you find the home you want, you can actually buy it!   Owning a home is a big step.  Do your “home”work and you’ll be ready for it!  And if you have questions or need some help, please contact me!

Good luck!

Sue Trautner, REALTOR