Tips for the First-Time Home Buyer

Do you have dreams of buying your first home? While the thought can be overwhelming, the process for a first-time home buyer can be manageable with the right information. Here are guidelines and tips for the first-time home buyer.

Begin Saving Immediately for Your Down Payment

Under most circumstances, you’ll hear advice about saving 20 percent for your down payment. However, it’s possible to work with lenders who will accept a much lower down payment. Many first-time home buyer loans will work with as little as a 3 percent down payment. But remember that when you put less down, it could mean paying for private mortgage insurance and other high costs. Use a down payment calculator to help you determine the amount that’s most affordable, and start saving early.

Develop an Emergency Fund and Pay Off Debt

We all know that home ownership is an expensive venture. You’re going to be responsible for the home’s upkeep and maintenance, and, if you’re purchasing an older home, these costs add up quickly. Before taking steps toward becoming a first-time home buyer, make sure you develop an emergency fund that will carry you for at least three to six months, and that you have the majority of your debt paid off. When you commit to a home buyer’s mortgage payment, you can do so more comfortably with an emergency fund and without a significant amount of debt.

Research Mortgage and Down Payment Options

Many mortgage options exist, and they each have their own benefits. For example, first-time home buyer financing includes conventional mortgages, the FHA first-time home buyer’s loan and VA loans for those who qualify. Your down payment will affect your interest rate and the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Opting for a 30-year fixed mortgage loan for a first-time home buyer is an optimal way of ensuring you’ll have the smallest mortgage payment possible.

How Much House Can You Afford?

It’s critical that you set a budget before falling in love with a house. Determining how much house you can afford should occur before you begin looking at any listings on the market. You’ll need to look at budget line items, including insurance, if you’re going to have to pay HOA fees, and other monthly housing costs. Use a mortgage calculator to help you make these determinations.

Research Local and State Programs for Assistance

Many state and federal programs are available for first-time home buyers in the form of first-time home buyer’s grants and first-time farm buyer’s grants. Other help available includes assistance with closing costs and down payments, interest rates that are discounted and tax credits. You might also check with your municipality or county for information regarding first-time home buyer assistance programs.