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5 Tips for First Time Home Buyers

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Becky Kurschner
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There are few things in life as exciting as buying your first home. But it can also be a bit unnerving. This could be the biggest purchase of your life so you want to be sure you’re setting yourself up for success. Doing your homework up front will help ensure your first home buying experience is a positive one. The internet is filled with an overwhelming amount of information and it’s hard to know what advice to follow. We put together our top five tips to help you get started on the right path.

1. Know your Credit Score. You can visit free websites such as creditkarma.com or freecreditscore.com to get a free credit report.  Now is the time to make sure you’ve taken the steps toward a good credit score.

2. Understand Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Zero percent down government loans are not always the best for first time home buyers due to upfront costs and Mortgage Insurance. And as these programs have restrictions, you could be out of luck if you’re looking for a home in the country. Don’t rule out a conventional loan. It saves on upfront costs, gives you equity in your new home, and has fewer hoops to jump through in the approval process.

3. Keep good financial records. In order to approve your loan request, lenders will need current paystubs, income tax and W2 history, as well as banking information.

4. Stay local. Online banks may advertise ease and speed, but there’s usually a tradeoff. Will they be willing and able to assist you in person should any problems or questions come up? Will they care? With an important purchase like your first home, you need access to experienced professionals, not robots or apathetic people who are paid by the number of calls they take, nott the quality of service they provide.

5. Be realistic of timelines. If it sounds too good to be true, guess what? It probably is. Most legitimate loan transactions take anywhere from 30-60 days.

When buying a home select a lender or bank based on reputation. Ask your family, your friends, who they would recommend. Do some online research and read reviews. Choose a lender whose priority is service, not just a low rate.  Be prepared to ask questions and find someone who listens. You should feel comfortable who you are working with so you get the support, expertise and attention you deserve.
 
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