Buying your first home is a life-changing event. For most people, it’s the culmination of a long process. And the sooner you get start planning the process, the better. There’s a lot to do when you’re buying a home, but it can all be done one little bit at a time.
- Start Saving for a Down Payment
For access to some of the most favorable home mortgage loans, you need to be able to offer at least a 20% down payment. In fact, many of the best programs only become accessible to buyers with about a 30% down payment. The bigger your down payment, the more you’ll save in the long run, even if some of these higher figures aren’t in your budget.
- Review Your Credit
Your credit history is maintained by a number of credit reporting bureaus. As the recent huge data breach at Equifax shows, they can make mistakes! Review your credit history by accessing a copy of your credit report, which you can get free of charge once every calendar year. Take a look at this information to make sure your credit isn’t adversely affected by mistaken identity.
- Find First-Time Home Buyer Assistance Programs
Even if you can’t muster a big down payment, there are many programs especially for first-time home buyers that will help you achieve your goals. Some of these are federal programs, while others might be available in your state or city. When comparing different lenders, be sure you are working with one who can offer the type of program you are interested in.
- Compare Mortgage Rates and Options
If you are using a first-time home buyer program, then you might have only a single mortgage package to consider. In most cases, however, you’ll want to compare several different options to make sure you are enjoying the best deal. In particular, you’ll want to be certain you are getting the lowest Annual Percentage Rate (APR) possible. Also, consider 15- versus 30-year mortgages.
- Narrow Down Your Neighborhood and Other Options
It might not be time to start looking at individual listings yet, but you can still get an idea of what’s out there. You can start by coming up with a list of amenities that your home absolutely must have: Not just features of the property itself, but the local area. Taking this step now and doing research into potential neighborhoods could save you weeks of effort down the line.
- Get a Mortgage Pre-approval
Pre-qualified just means you have an estimate of how much a lender may be willing to offer you based on your income and debt. If you want the flexibility to move forward on a home, the next step is pre-approval – a solid, written commitment from a lender that includes an amount and rates. You aren’t committed to taking on the loan, but sellers will take you much more seriously.
- Engage the Right Real Estate Expert
In this fast-paced world of online self-service, finding the right home isn’t a job you should tackle by yourself. A good local real estate agent will accelerate the process and help you ensure that you get the best deal possible at every step. Ultimately, you could save thousands of dollars and cut months off your timeline – and that can make the difference in getting your dream home.
Our real estate agents are experienced professionals who have helped people from all backgrounds and walks of life to find amazing homes in Columbia. Contact Columbia Real Estate today to get your home search started.