The first time you buy a home is a huge step in life. And because you have never done it before, it is wise not to go it alone. That’s why it’s important to assemble a team of experts to help.
Your first stop, even before hiring a real estate agent, is to turn to a trusted mortgage expert – be it a mortgage broker, bank or lender. These professionals will help you get your finances in order to buy a home and will help you determine how much home you can afford.
Below is a guide to hiring the right professionals to help you with your first-time home purchase:
Your first step should be a mortgage shopping expedition. Contact the bank you have your checking and savings accounts with and at least two other mortgage companies, brokers or banks to gather information. You’ll want to learn about the mortgage programs that each lender offers, including:
- Term (or number of years of the mortgage)
- Fixed or variable rate
- Mortgage rate
- Annual percentage rate (APR)
- Estimated closing costs
- Pre-payment penalty, if any
- Special programs for first-time homebuyers
Once you and your mortgage expert have determined which home loan program makes sense for you, you’ll want to get a mortgage pre-approval. A pre-approval is a virtual thumbs-up from a lender that you’re able to qualify for a mortgage based on your credit and personal financial situation. The advantages of a pre-approval include:
- Providing you a range of home prices that you can afford, so you know what to look at;
- Giving you bargaining power when placing a bid on a house; and
- Providing you with an estimate of how much your home purchase will cost you.
[Mortgage Help: Get your free credit report and see if your credit score is mortgage qualified]Find a Real Estate Professional
Once you’ve spoken with a lender, you’ll want to choose a Realtor. Interview several real estate agents before choosing one. You may want to consider looking for Realtors that specialize in first-time home purchases, although this is not a necessity. Rapport with your agent is key, however. You will most likely be working with your real estate agent for weeks or months at a time throughout the home buying process, so you want to choose someone you actually like.
Also, you’ll want to look for someone with:
- Connections and relationships with others in the process
Build a Team of Professionals
Once you find a mortgage lender, real estate agent and home, you are still only half-way through the home buying process. Next, you’ll want to assemble the right professionals to finish the process (e.g. appraiser, title company, real estate attorney, home inspector). The mortgage lender and your real estate agent can help you choose these professionals.
In some cases, you may not have options. For example, many mortgage lenders have a list of approved appraisers that do all of their appraisals for the company. On the other hand, buyers are typically able to choose the title company they want to do the title search, establish the title insurance policy and conduct the closing.
Buying a home is a complex process. When you are first-time homebuyer, this means that it is especially important that you not go it alone. Do a lot of your own homework up front, so you have some basic knowledge of the process. Then, get pre-approved for a mortgage, choose a real estate agent and go through the rest of the steps one at a time, with professionals helping as your guides.
Start your home buying process off on the right foot with helpful online tools from Quizzle.com. At Quizzle, you can find out your mortgage options based on your personal financial situation and improve your credit if it’s not quite high enough to qualify you for a home loan.
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