If you’re a first time homebuyer and want to start weighing your mortgage options, you’ll have much to learn. With so much at stake, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best mortgage for you now, and one that will still suit your needs years into the future.
Sometimes, first time buyers are hesitant to ask questions they may consider too basic because they don’t want to seem inexperienced to lenders, agents, or anyone else they’ll be in contact with throughout the home buying process.
So, in this article, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked mortgage questions that first time buyers might want to ask before heading into the process of acquiring a home loan.
What is the first step to getting a mortgage?
This question may seem straightforward, however the first step can vary depending on your financial situation. For those who already have saved up for a down payment and built a solid credit score, the first step is probably contacting lenders and getting preapproved or prequalified.
However, if you aren’t sure about your credit score and haven’t saved up for a down payment (ideally, 20% of what you hope to spend on the house), then you should address those matters first.
To find a lender, you can do a simple Google search for the mortgage lenders in your area, or you can ask around to friends and family to find out their experience with their own mortgage lenders.
What does it mean to be pre-qualified and pre-approved?
If you think of the mortgage process in three steps, the first step would be getting pre-qualified. This means you’ve given the lender enough basic information for them to decide which type of mortgage you’re eligible to receive.
Pre-approval includes collecting and verifying further details. At this step, you’ll complete a mortgage application and the lender will run a credit check. Once you’re pre-approved, your file can be moved to the underwriting phase.
What are closing costs?
“Closing costs” is an umbrella term that covers all of the various fees and expenses related to buying or selling a home. As a buyer, you are responsible for paying numerous closing costs. These can include, but are not limited to, underwriting fees, title searches, title insurance, origination fees, taxes, appraisal fees, surveys, and more.
That sounds like a lot to keep track of, however your lender will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the total closing costs when you apply for your loan. In fact, lenders are required to give you a list of these costs within three days of your loan application in the form of a “good faith estimate” of the closing costs.
What will my interest rate be?
The answer to this question is dependent upon numerous factors. The value of the home, your credit score, the amount you put down (down payment), the type of mortgage you have, and whether or not you’re paying private mortgage insurance all factor into the interest rate you’ll receive. Interest rates also will vary slightly between lenders.
You can receive a fixed-rate mortgage that does not fluctuate throughout the repayment term. However, you also typically have the option to refinance to acquire a lower interest rate, however refinancing comes with its own costs.
Buying a home will likely be the most important and expensive purchase you ever make. And, although that might seem like a scary commitment, it’s one well worth it. It’s an investment in your future. There are many benefits or perks that come with owning a home.
Equity: Owning your own home typically comes with gaining equity. Every month that you pay your mortgage, you are increasing your equity. And as long as the market continue upwards, your home and the equity you’ve gained will hold significant value.
Privacy: Privacy is a large perk of owning your own home. This is more so possible when owning a single-family home in a rural location, but many duplexes and condos also provide opportunities for privacy. And in many cases, since you own the home,you can put up your own privacy such as planting arborvitae trees along your properties edge.
Tax Advantages: One of the biggest perks when owning a home is the ability to deduct mortgage interest on your federal income taxes. This will be a significant amount for the first few years of your mortgage, making this a huge benefit. Although, the amount of interest paid decreases over the years, there will still be deductible interest paid in the last few years of your mortgage.
Space: Houses will almost always provide you with more space than an apartment—and it will certainly have more space than your childhood bedroom. The space will be all yours, which means not having to share with other renters or your parents. Of course, home location and the market come into play here, but for the most part you will get more square footage for your money—as landlords charge high rents to cover things like water, electricity, snow removal, or still charge high rent prices and do not cover any of those other expenses.
No restrictions: There are many restrictions that come with renting or living in a condominium. These restrictions could include no pets, parking restrictions, outdoor updating restrictions and many other different types of constraints. When you own your own home, you make the rules. If you want to put up a fence, you can. And if you want to put an addition on your house, you can do that too. Just be sure to check with your town before beginning any construction projects.
Establishment: Buying a home provides you the ability to set down roots, to be established. Although, not a benefit to some, it is to many. Buying a home provides you with ownership and a sense of freedom. You now have the opportunity to invest in something that is yours. You can make updates to the bathrooms, add a pool in the backyard, and paint the front door any color you want—because it’s yours.
A home is often the foundation of one’s life and who can deny its appeal with these perks discussed above? So, what are you waiting for? Start your search today!
Once you have gone through the pre-approval process and have narrowed down your home search, there’s a good chance you’ll soon find a place that you want to make an offer on. This can seem like a huge step for any first time homebuyer. Even seasoned home buyers feel butterflies when the time comes to make an offer on a home they love. Before you even start your home search, you should become educated on how to make a good offer in order to land the property that you really want. There’s so many factors that effect your offer including the surrounding properties and the current state of the market. Here are a few very important pieces of advice that you should heed in order to have a successful time securing a home and closing the deal.
Craft A Persuasive Offer
In many areas there’s a low inventory of homes and a high number of those seeking to buy. This means that you’re not guaranteed to get a property that you have made an offer on. Lowball offers might not be at all competitive and even insulting to sellers in certain markets. Often, you may need to make an offer of more than the asking price if you’re in love with a home. By working with your real estate agent and doing the right research, you can craft an offer on a home that will be compelling for sellers.
Decide On Your Contingencies
Once an offer has been accepted, it’s time to get to work on those contingencies. Be especially mindful of financing contingencies. If something falls through in the process, you’ll want to be sure you can get the deposit you made back. Also keep in mind that sellers love reliable buyers who have already been preapproved.
Home inspection contingencies are another area of importance. After you sign the purchase agreement and the inspection is complete, you’re allowed to ask the seller to make repairs or provide you with a counter offer. While this can be one of the more nerve-wracking aspects of home buying, it has many positives. Home inspections protect buyers from purchasing a home that they can’t live with in cases of extreme mold, termites and other environmental and structural issues.
The appraisal contingency is also important. In order for you to qualify for a loan, the property must be appraised. The property must be valued at or above the purchase price. A loan will only be approved by a lender up to the appraised value. If your home loan is $400,000 but your home of choice is appraised at $390,000, you’ll have a problem.
Your Finances Matter Until You Get To The Closing Table
Don’t go crazy with all kinds of purchases before you reach the closing table. Opening a new credit account at your favorite furniture store, for example, could lead to a disastrous surprise on closing day. Hold off on big purchases until after you secure your home. Also avoid making large transfers or deposits from your bank account. don’t do anything to negatively affect your credit score
Know What To Bring To The Closing
Don’t show up to the closing for your home purchase unprepared. You’ll need to have the following items:
- Photo ID
Be sure that you think of the future when you’re purchasing your home. You’ll need to have enough cash flow to pay for things like property taxes, home insurance, utility bills and even new furniture for your home. Plan your future mortgage payments accordingly. Some companies have payments that are monthly or bimonthly.
While buying a home is a huge undertaking, with the right plans in place, the process will be as seamless as possible. With the right plans, the moving truck will be pulling into the driveway before you know it.
The process of buying a house can be long and difficult. Whether you’re coming from an apartment or another home, you’ll want to time your purchase and move-in so you’re not paying for two homes at once.
What’s more, there are several steps required in the homebuying process, all of which you’ll have to give yourself enough time to complete.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the timeline leading up to buying a home. We’ll discuss how to figure out the amount of time you’ll need, and give you some advice on how to be ready sooner.
Prerequisites to buying a home
Before you consider purchasing a home, you’ll need to make sure your personal and financial life are ready for this commitment. Depending on what type of loan you are hoping to get, this could include saving as much as 20% of the cost of the home for a down payment.
Buying a home also usually requires good credit. If you have some issues with your credit history, you’ll want to take time to improve your score so that you can get a better interest rate on your mortgage.
Once you’ve settled on moving and have a general location, it’s a good idea to get pre approved for a loan.
Getting pre-approved for a loan is beneficial for a few reasons. First, it will let sellers know you’re a serious contender for buying their home.
Second, it gives you one fewer thing to worry about when it comes time to make an offer on a home that you’re interested in.
And, finally, pre-approval gives you a ballpark figure of the type of homes you can look at, saving you time when you’re shopping around for a home by avoiding properties that are over-budget.
The pre-approval process ranges from lender to lender. It can take as little as three days if you provide all the necessary information immediately. However, in some instances it can take weeks, especially if there are problems with the documents you provided to the lender.
Time before closing
If you’ve spent a few weeks viewing homes and considering your mortgage options, you’re likely getting ready to make an offer on a home. On average, this can take anywhere from 30-60 days.
The “contract to close” period can vary based on the type of loan you’re receiving and the underwriting process involved in that loan. USDA-guaranteed loans, for example, require added underwriting and processing time.
How to close sooner
So your lease ends in a few months and you want to make sure you’ll be in your new home before you have to move out. There are a few ways you can save time when buying a home.
First, make sure you provide your lender with everything they need to pre-approve you for a loan. Getting pre-approved quickly will save you a lot of time that is otherwise wasted while sitting around waiting for pre-approval.
Next, work with a real estate agent to find homes within your budget that are ready for move-in. Finally, be reasonable with your offer. Sellers, too, are typically on a timeline and will want to work with someone who is going to do their part to make the process as efficient as possible.
In certain states, attorneys are almost required in order for you to purchase a home. In many states, real estate matters can be handled completely by the real estate agent themselves along with a title company. An attorney’s presence is not required in these states. This is when hiring a real estate agent is most important.
Buying A Home With An Agent
You can either get your own buyer’s agent to represent you, or you can use the seller’s agent to help you seal the deal. It’s a good idea to have your own agent to represent you, but you have the right to use either option. A buyer’s agent has a duty to keep the buyer’s best interests in mind and to keep all of the buyer’s information private and confidential.
It’s important to find your own buyer’s agent before you even start the house hunting process. Your agent can be a valuable resource in helping you to choose the right home for you and your family. If you decide to use the seller’s agent, their loyalty will be divided between the sellers and you. This is a fine choice as it will be balanced. However, you may want an agent who is completely dedicated to you so that your needs and interests are adequately represented.
If you have a question as to whether an agent is actually representing you as a buyer, the seller, or both, it should be clearly stated in writing for you. This way there will be no questioning as to whom is being represented by who.
Buyer’s Agent Duties
Having a buyer’s agent is a great resource for you. An agent will be able to help you search for properties. The agent can help you to see properties in person if you are unable to make it to an open house. Buyer’s agents also can provide market analysis to help discover a home’s value. They’ll also strategize with you on negotiating. Other things that the buyer’s agent can assist you with are:
- Presenting your offer
- The home inspection
- The application for a mortgage
- The completion of the purchase and sales agreement
- Attend the final walkthrough at the closing
Finding a buyer’s agent is an important part of buying a home. The agent can help you throughout the entire process from finding a home to closing on a home. Your agent can even give you recommendations on everyone who may need to be involved on the road to home ownership including attorneys, inspectors and contractors. It’s important to have someone around who knows all about real estate and can understand every step of the home buying process.