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Are You Ready to Look for Your First Home?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Buying your first home doesn't need to be overwhelming, and the more prepared you are, the better. Here are a few tips and tools to make first-time home-buying a little easier.

Take a class. Katie Ross, a community education and marketing manager for American Consumer Credit Counseling, says you shouldn’t be at all ashamed to take a first-time homebuyer education course, many of which are offered online. They provide potential homebuyers with detailed information, advice and budgeting tips on how to purchase a home. With a homebuyer certificate, consumers may qualify for loan products that might otherwise be out of their grasp.

Save, save, save. Digital Federal Credit Union (dcu.org) advises prospective homebuyers to save as much as possible toward the purchase price of the house and closing costs. Though minimum down payments start around 5 percent, the greater the down payment, the more favorable the borrowing terms.

Put more down. DCU.org says if you can purchase a home with at least 20 percent down, you probably will save even more because you won't need to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Find an agent. DCU also advises first-timers to find a trusted real estate agent. They say an agent's job is to know how much properties are worth, facilitate the sale process and bring an offer to the seller's agent.

Emily Starbuck Crone at nerdwallet.com reminds first-time prospects that there are a lot of mortgage options out there, each with their own combination of pros and cons. If you’re struggling to come up with a down payment,
Crone says check out:

- Conventional mortgages that conform to standards set by the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which require as little as 3 percent down.

- Federal Housing Administration loans, which permit down payments as low as 3.5 percent.

- Veterans Affairs loans, which sometimes require no down payment at all.

Finally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov) says shopping around for a mortgage can lead to real savings. Saving even a quarter of a point in interest saves thousands of dollars over the life of a loan.

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