If you are thinking of buying a home, you probably have been getting your finances for some time. First-time homebuyers need the right information to avoid making big mistakes when they purchase their homes. The leap into home ownership is a big one, and you’ll want as much information with you along for the ride. Below, you’ll find a crash course on mortgages for first-time homebuyers. 


Think Ahead


Every homebuyer needs to prepare ahead of time for the process to be smooth. Research different lenders in your area and see what their rates are. If you talk to your lender about your goals and what type of loans you’re looking for, you’ll understand all of the costs that you’ll face ahead of time. You don’t want any surprises when it comes to signing a contract for a home.


Every Mortgage Is Different


It’s easy to think that all home loans are created equal, but they aren’t. The diversity in types of home loans is why you need to research and meet with a lender ahead of time. Talk to your real estate agent and see who they suggest. Your agent is a useful resource because they want your entire transaction to go smoothly for everyone involved. There are many different kinds of mortgages, and you need to make sure you’re getting the loan that’s right for you. Be sure you understand the specifics of each loan before you sign on.       


What You Need In Order


Before you even head into the home buying process, there are a few things that you’ll need including:


  • Cash for a downpayment
  • A budget
  • Knowledge of all of your finances
  • Where you’d like to look for a home
  • An idea of how much you can spend on a home
  • Information to get pre-approved including tax returns, proof of income, and bank statements


Once you have saved up cash for a downpayment, it’s time to take a look at your budget. Can you afford a monthly mortgage payment in the price range that you hope to buy? How much money will you have left over each month? Should you adjust your expectations? 



You’ll need to save up a bit of cash before you know that you’re ready to buy a home. It’s recommended that you have at least 20 percent of the purchase price of a home to put down towards your loan. The more you put down, the lower your monthly payments will be on the mortgage. So saving is the next big step in securing a mortgage in the smoothest possible way.     


There are so many factors that go into finding and securing the financing to buy a home.   While lenders require quite a bit of information for you to get a loan, you still need to be aware of your own financial picture. Even if you’re pre-approved for a certain amount of money to buy a home, you still need to dig into your finances a bit deeper than a lender would. The bottom line is that you can't rely solely on a lender to tell you how much you can afford for a monthly payment on a home. Even if you’re approved to borrow the maximum amount of money for your finances to buy a home, it doesn’t mean that you actually should use that amount. There are so many other real world things that you need to consider outside of the basic numbers that are plugged into a mortgage formula.   


Run Your Own Numbers


It’s important to sit down and do your own budget when you’re getting ready to buy a home. You have plenty of monthly expenses including student loan debt, car payments, utility bills, and more. Don’t forget that you need to eat too! Think about what your lifestyle is like. How much do you spend on food? Do you go out to the movies often or spend a regular amount of cash on clothing? Even if you plan to make adjustments to these habits when buying a home, you’ll want to think honestly about all of your needs and spending habits before signing on to buy a home. 


Now, you’ll know what your true monthly costs are. Be sure to include things like home insurance, property taxes, monthly utilities, and any other personal monthly expenses in this budget. If you plan to put down a lower amount on the home, you’ll also need to include additional insurance costs like private mortgage insurance (PMI).


The magic number that you should remember when it comes to housing costs is 30%. This is the percentage of your monthly income that you should plan to spend on housing. Realistically, this could make your budget tight so this is often thought of as a maximum percentage. By law, a lender can’t approve a mortgage that would take up more than 35% of your monthly income. Some lenders have even stricter requirements such as not allowing a borrower to have a mortgage that would be more than 28% of monthly income. This is where the debt-to-income ratio comes into play.


As you can see, it’s important to take an earnest look at your finances to avoid larger money issues when you buy a home.  





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