Buying a home for the first time can feel overwhelming, particularly in a fast-moving market like ours. How can you stay within your budget, find a home you’ll love, and do it all with less stress?
Follow these valuable tips from Bankrate.com:
Apply for a mortgage and get pre-approval before you start shopping: There are two reasons for this: 1) It will give you a realistic idea of what you can afford; 2) In today’s competitive market, sellers aren’t likely to wait to see if you qualify for a loan. They’ll simply snap up the first buyer with cash or a pre-approved loan who comes along.
Shop for lenders: Query at least three lenders and a mortgage broker, so that you can compare rates, lender fees and loan terms, as well as their levels of customer service; particularly at this busy time, you want assurance your application won’t end up in a pile that takes someone weeks to get to.
Buy what you can afford. “Focus on what monthly payment you can afford rather than fixating on the maximum loan amount you qualify for,” advises Bankrate.com. Taking on a payment that’s too big for your lifestyle can feel like you’re carrying a giant rock on your shoulder. You’ll sleep better by staying within your budget and lessening the burden.
Plan a year in advance: This way, you can save toward a down payment and work to be sure your credit report is in order so that you will earn more favorable loan terms.
Don’t max out your credit card after your contract is accepted: Of course you want to buy furniture, window coverings and any number of other items for your new home, but this isn’t the time. Lenders check your credit just before closing to be sure nothing has changed since you applied for the mortgage. Any major changes to your financial status, including large credit card charges, new loans, etc. can impact your ability to close on the house. “Pay down your existing balances to below 30 percent of your available credit limit, and pay your bills on time and in full every month,” says Bankrate.com.
Don’t let your emotions carry you away: It’s a great home with a sky-high price tag. But come on, in this market, what isn’t expensive? That may be true, but letting your emotions rule the day can be disastrous. Remember: there will be another house you will love – one that matches your budget. Stay focused.
Don’t be discouraged from buying a home if you can’t afford to make a 20% down payment. While making a 20% down payment allows you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance, many buyers don’t have the money for that large of a down payment. The median down payment on a home, according to the National Association of Realtors, is 12%; 6% for first-time homebuyers. Bankrate.com notes that you can acquire a conventional mortgage with as little as 3% down.