Buying your first home can seem like a daunting task, but we have a few secrets that may help demystify the process.
1. Meet with a housing counselor or take a class. Identify a non-profit organization that provides housing counselors who can give you unbiased and objective advice regarding the homebuying process in your area. Springboard provides home buyer coaching to help you figure out how much you can afford and your next steps. In addition, taking a Springboard home buyer class will help you learn the A-Z’s of homebuying and be prepared for all the steps in the process.
2. Straighten out your finances. Know your credit before talking to a lender and searching for homes. You are allowed one free credit report per year from each of the three main credit report companies. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com for this free report. If you see any inaccuracies, fix them. Overall, it is a good idea to understand what a lender is looking for when they qualify you for a mortgage. Keep the 4 C’s of credit in mind:
- Credit history (Are you paying your bills on time?)
- Capital (Do you have regular income and money saved for a down payment?)
- Capacity (How does your income compare to the amount of debt you have?)
- Collateral (Is the condition and value of the house you want to buy equal to or greater than the amount of the loan?)
3. Learn more about down payment and closing cost programs. Some non-profit organizations (Springboard included!) as well as some state and city governments offer help with down-payment and closing costs – often a major hurdle for first-time home buyers. Usually this assistance comes in the form of a a low-interest loan. Borrowers must meet certain income qualifications to receive these loans. Check out our down payment programs.
4. Get pre-approved then shop for a home. Going about it in the reverse order may leave you feeling frustrated and disappointed. Start looking for homes only after you know how much money you will have to be able to purchase a home. A pre-approval letter from a lender gives you your maximum purchase price, which may limit the area, size and type of home you are able to purchase.
5. Find the right home. Do your research to find the right neighborhood and home for your lifestyle. Consider schools, your commute, crime, property taxes, and other factors that are important to you. Try Neighborhood Scout’s search tool to search by address or city to see neighborhood characteristics such as median area real estate prices, school rating information, crime rates, and more. If schools are important to you, another great tool comes from Homefair.com, where you can access school reports from public and private schools in your area of interest.
Ready to get started? Call 1-888-983-2344 to speak to a loan officer about your options.