Actions to Take Before Buying a Home Today

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1 Actions to Take Before Buying a Home Today As the housing downturn has shown, homeownership is about more than buying a home you have to make sure you can keep the home over the long term. If you re thinking about buying a home, these five steps can help ensure you get the right house for you and the affordable financing that helps make homeownership a long-term success: Step 1. Get Educated. A little mortgage know-how goes a long way toward ensuring you get an affordable mortgage. Before you hire an agent or find a lender, get educated on the loan process and key factors that make a loan affordable. You ll want to know about loan types fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages, FHA and VA loans and the full range of line items that contribute to the total cost of securing the loan, including discount points, appraisals, and real estate agent commissions. Our Home Buyer s Learning Center and Resource Center s FAQ s at can help you gain a better understanding of the mortgage process. If you would like more in-depth information, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can put you in touch with the nearest housing counseling professional in your area. Visit for more information. Our loan officers are also available to answer your questions Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 8:30 am to 6:30 pm or Thursday and Friday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm at. In addition you can also check with local government, neighborhood associations and neighborhood credit union branch offices for information sessions on home buying as well as homebuyer-education programs. Step 2. Get Your Finances in Order. Given today s stronger lending guidelines, it s more important than ever to get your finances in order. First, get a copy of your credit report, which usually includes your credit score. If your credit score is low (anything below 620), take the time to improve it. If you find errors on the report, take the time to correct them. This may put your home buying plans on hold (creditors typically look for a two-year history of consistent, on-time bill payment to establish good credit), but it could result in a better loan and more affordable rates. Step 3. Establish a Budget. Before you start searching for your home, make sure you know how much home you can afford. Lenders will evaluate all your debts and take into account your full financial situation when qualifying you for a mortgage. A key factor is how much income you bring in versus how much you will pay out each month. Here s a good guideline to check where you are: buying) should generally not exceed 28% to 33% of your total monthly gross income. your mortgage payment) should not exceed 36% to 40% of your total monthly gross income. Continued on pg 2

2 Actions to Take Before Buying a Home Today Continued It s always helpful to create a monthly budget, itemizing all your recurring expenses, including estimated maintenance costs, taxes, utility bills, and condo or homeowners association dues. Download our Budget Worksheet at to help get you started. Then, test your budget. If you can pay all your debts and continue to add to savings, you may be ready to buy a home. If not, you may have to revise your plans. Step 4. Start Saving. Having savings in reserve helps ensure you can afford the upfront costs of homeownership. Upfront costs of homeownership include: down payment means you ll have to qualify for a higher loan amount and pay for mortgage insurance adding to your monthly mortgage payment. money, a deposit shows the seller you re serious about buying the home. If your offer is accepted, the deposit or earnest money will be applied towards the down payment. If your offer is rejected, the down payment will be returned to you. include all fees required to execute the sale, including attorney fees, title insurance, appraisals, and points. Step 5. Get Pre-Approved. In today s competitive market, home buyers should get pre-approved for a mortgage before they begin their house hunt. To be pre-approved for a loan, your lender will gather information about your job, assets, income, and debts and then determine how much financing you re qualified to receive. If you are pre-approved, you will receive a pre-approval letter from the lender. When you re ready to make an offer on a home, this pre-approval letter will tell the seller you re a serious and qualified buyer. It will also give you an edge over competing buyers who are not pre-approved. You ll still need to apply for a loan if your offer is accepted.

3 Qualifying for a Home Mortgage If you are a first-time homebuyer or haven t bought a home in a while, this document will offer valuable information about buying a home. While pre-approval is not a mortgage commitment or guarantee, it will provide guidance on what you can afford to spend on your new home. Having a pre-approval letter to show to a seller demonstrates that you are a serious buyer. When you are ready to buy, it will shorten the time it takes us to complete the mortgage application process. Gather the information you will need to qualify for a home mortgage. Remember that you are investing not just in a home but also in the mortgage loan that will finance your home. How much money do you have saved for your Down Payment? We will ask how much money you have available for a down payment. Required down payments can vary from as little as 3 ½ % to 5% of the purchase price or more. A larger down payment demonstrates your commitment to long-term homeownership and provides you with immediate equity in a new home. What is your income and employment history? What does your credit history look like? We will review your credit history how well you ve paid your bills in the past by reviewing your credit report. We will consider how much you owe on credit cards, car payments, student loans and other debt. We will also review your ability to pay property taxes and other expenses of homeownership. There are minimum credit score requirements to qualify for a mortgage. What kind of property do you want to purchase? With your mortgage pre-approval in place, you are ready to begin your search. A real estate professional can help you find a home that meets your needs and your budget. A licensed agent has access to the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) which generally offers the most comprehensive list of homes for sale in the area you would like to purchase. Escrow Accounts In most cases, we will require that you set up an escrow account. With an escrow account, you pay a fixed amount each month in addition to your mortgage payment to an account maintained by us. We will draw on that account to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance as those bills become due. Escrow accounts ensure that money will be available for these payments.

4 The Importance of a Property Inspection No homeowner wants to be unpleasantly surprised to discover that their newlypurchased dream home has major problems. An objective property inspection is a must in the home buying process. This is especially true when non-owner occupied homes are being considered. In these cases where there has been a oreclosure, potential buyers don t have the benefit of a seller s disclosure. Even newly constructed buildings should be inspected to uncover any potential builder oversights. Home warranties or protection plans are not a substitution for an inspection. Buyers should beware of sellers who try to pass them off as such. A qualified home inspector will educate the buyer about the condition of the dwelling whether a single-family home, condo or townhouse. The inspector may expose defects that will allow the potential buyer to make a more informed, and confident, decision. The money spent on an inspection really pays for peace-of-mind. Buyers who skip the inspection process to save money could later discover that the home needs repairs costing a great deal more than the inspection would have. The cost of an inspection will vary, depending on the size of the property. It should include the roof; attic and visible insulation; plumbing; electrical; heating and cooling systems; kitchen and bathrooms; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; basement and foundation; and all structural components. If the inspector finds a particular defect, or an infestation, he may suggest a secondary inspection by a specialist. All buyers who plan to invest in an inspection; and everyone should; need to make their offer contingent on the results of the inspection. A contingency provides an opportunity for price negotiations if defects are discovered. What you don t know can hurt you when it comes to your home but with the help of a qualified home inspector, it doesn t have to. Look into the National Association of Home Inspectors or the American Society of Home Inspectors for a professional in your area. sources: American society of home inspectors, and

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