Thinking about buying your first home? It’s a great time. Mortgage rates and inventories continue to change dynamically, creating new opportunities for potential homeowners when it comes to pricing and financing.
Origin’s mortgage lending team knows firsthand how exciting it is to buy your first home. We’re here to offer guidance, expertise and plenty of resources to make your dreams of homeownership come true.
Ready to get started? Here are five proactive steps you can take right now:
- Start saving now for a down payment. The rule of thumb is 20 percent down, though many first-time homebuyer programs allow much less. There are pros and cons with both smaller and larger down payments. Either way, it’s going to take money, so start saving as soon as possible. Consider setting aside tax refunds and work bonuses. Set up an automatic savings plan. Even if you put away a little each month, lenders often notice your financial discipline. Keep in mind, your money will grow over time, so there’s nothing to lose.
- Get your financial house in order. Your credit history is critical in the homebuying process. It’s a big factor in determining whether you get approved for a loan, as well as your interest rate. Keep your credit score as high as possible until your home loan closes. Avoid opening new accounts for credit cards or car loans. Start working now to dispute and resolve errors on your report. And make sure you’re sending in at least minimum payments on time with your current bills.
- Figure out a price range. Knowing what you can afford before you start looking goes a long way toward making the homebuying process as simple as possible. Having a price range based on your monthly income and debt capacity makes decisions much easier, and it helps avoid complications as you move through the process. Origin’s financial calculators are a convenient and helpful way to figure out your price range, and they’re free for anyone to use.
- Talk to a lender about getting prequalified for a mortgage. This is another key step in simplifying the process, because you know upfront what kind of buying power you have. Understand that the lender will examine your finances pretty thoroughly to get an accurate picture of what you can afford. If you are prequalified, you’ll have written confirmation of how much you can borrow, which will not only help you to choose the right home, but also carries more weight with sellers in the negotiation process.
- There’s nothing wrong with window shopping. An open house is a great place to start, so go to a few ‒ even if you’re not ready to buy. What do you notice about the home’s condition? How old is it? Have repairs, replacements or updates taken place, especially with the air and heating system? Get comfortable asking those kinds of questions before finding a property that does interest you.
One last thing… Get familiar with location research. Even if you don’t have kids, are there nearby schools that can affect property values? What’s traffic like during peak drive times? Are there nearby services you need, like grocery stores, cleaners, gyms, pharmacies, etc.? What are local crime stats? How do they compare with other neighborhoods and how are they trending? These are some of the variables you’ll need to evaluate and balance when making your choice.
Buying your first home really is exciting. It also seems like a big job, but Origin bankers help people every day to buy their first homes. We would love to help you, too! Get in touch with Origin today, and let’s make your home buying dreams come true.