What Every First Time Home Buyer Needs to Know

You’ve probably wondered many times if you can afford to buy a home, especially for the very first time. Did you know that continuing to make rental payments may be more expensive in the long-run? When you make rental payments, the money is gone forever. When you make mortgage payments, however, you build equity in your home. The longer you own your own home, the larger your equity becomes. Your home may also appreciate in value, usually at a rate faster than the rate of inflation. In addition, property taxes and mortgage interest paid on your personal residence are usually 100% tax deductible. There are numerous advantages to owning a home. Here are some things that a first time home buyer needs to know. Obtain Your Credit Report Get a copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, Trans Union) and review the information. Most lenders will get a credit report for you and review it with you as part of their pre-approval process. The sooner you do this the better. If your credit report contains items which need correcting, it’s easier to attend to them well before you make an offer. Don't assume you can't buy a home because your credit isn't perfect. There are numerous lenders and loan programs designed for people with less-than-perfect credit, especially for a first time buyer. Contact several lenders to discuss your options. In the unlikely event you don't qualify for a loan, determine what steps to take to improve your credit standing and qualify in the future. Being a first time buyer doesn’t mean you have to qualify for the first home you want to buy. Determine How Much Home You Can Afford Many web sites offer calculators that help you determine how much home you can afford. These tend to be very popular with the first time home buyers. A good calculator will give you a range of affordability. Many of these calculators use standard debt ratios of 28/36. This means that your housing payments cannot exceed 28 percent of your gross income and that your total debt cannot exceed 36 percent of your gross income. However, there are a wide range of programs, some that directly target the first time home buyer. Depending on your assets, credit history and earning potential, you may be able to qualify for more than what the standard debt ratio calculations would indicate. Contact a lender to determine of how much you can afford. Understand The Cost Of Home Ownership In addition to your mortgage payment, you will also pay for property taxes and home owners insurance. If you buy a condominium or townhouse you'll likely pay a monthly home owner's association fee. It is important that you understand the full cost of owning a home in addition to the tax benefits, whether you are a first time buyer or not. Many real estate agents and lenders can help you analyze the cost of owning a home. You may also want to consult with a financial planner or real estate attorney to determine how purchasing a home will help meet your financial goals. Determine How Much Money You Will Need Most loan programs require cash to pay for the down payment and closing costs. Many loan programs allow 100 percent financing. In today’s market most lenders offer a variety of programs and down payment options. Even if you have less-than-perfect credit, you may be able to buy a home for the first time with a limited down payment. Many first time home buyers mistakenly assume they need to save 10 or 20 percent of the purchase price before they can buy a home. Determine How Long Your Home Will Meet Your Needs What home features do you require today? When and in what way might your requirements change? Will you have a larger or smaller family in the near future? Will you some day need a home-office or work area? A two-bedroom home, for example, may serve the needs of a couple, but may not be roomy enough for a growing family. What will be required to convert the garage or basement into additional work or living space? Consider how your needs may change before you buy. As a first time home buyer you need to remember that this first home may not be your last. If you have any more questions about the home buying process, please contact us today.