Buying a home for the first time can seem complicated. Between down payments, credit scores, mortgage rates, property taxes, interest rates, and closing the deal, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed.
There’s a lot at stake with a first home. So, familiarize yourself with what it takes beforehand. Read this step-by-step guide to help you navigate the homebuying process.
Step 1: Start saving for a down payment
Figure out your finances. It’s one of the most important steps to buying a house for the first time. For most, buying a home requires a mortgage. This means you need a lender to front the money and you pay it back over time. However, to do this, you’ll need a down payment.
So how much do you need?
Typically, a down payment on a mortgage is around 20% of the home’s price. But, if you don’t have that amount, don’t worry! A mortgage down payment can be as low as 0% depending on the added fees and terms. Look at your finances and talk with a lender to see what’s best for you.
Step 2: Check your credit score and get pre-approved
In addition to a down payment, you’ll need a decent credit score to purchase a home. This three-digit number is a numerical summary of your credit report. It’s a detailed document outlining how well you’ve paid off past debts like credit cards and student loans.
A lender will check your credit report to determine whether they will loan you money, how much, and the interest rate. If you have blemishes on your credit report, it can lower your odds of getting a loan with a great interest rate.
Next, the lender will determine if you’re pre-approved for a mortgage. They will scrutinize your financial background to determine if you qualify for a loan and for what amount. This will help you target homes in your price range.
Step 3: Go house hunting
This is the fun part! Get with your Real Estate Agent and let them know that you’re pre-approved and ready to start looking. Let your Agent know your price range and what you’re looking for.
This can get overwhelming if there are just too many homes to choose from. Separate your must-have features from features you’d like, but don’t need. Do you really want a home, or do you prefer a fixer-upper? Make a list of all your wants and needs and go decide from there.
Step 4: Make an offer and head to closing
Find your dream home? Now it’s time to make an offer the seller can’t refuse. Once your offer is accepted, get a home inspection. This is where an inspector does a rundown of the home from top to bottom to determine if there are any problems. Sure, a lot can go wrong, but most problems are fixable.
Next, your lender will conduct a home appraisal. This is where they check out the home to make sure it’s a good investment. It’s like a home inspection, but for your lender.
Now it’s time to head to closing! This is known as a settlement or escrow. It brings together a variety of parties who are part of the transaction. Closing day is the day you officially get the keys to your new home.
Step 5: Move in!
Finished with closing? Got your loan? Congratulations! You’re officially a homeowner! Now it’s time to move into your new home, kick back, and enjoy the many benefits of becoming a homeowner.