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First time home buying process: Top 7 step by step things to buy a home 2020 and beyond.

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

Thinking of buying your first home but aren’t sure where to start? You are in the right place. Keep reading for the top 7 things you can do to get ready to buy your first home!

1. Check your credit report

When considering you for a mortgage, one of the first things lenders will do is pull your credit report and your credit score. Make sure you check your credit report in advance and review it for any errors. If you find any mistakes, you can contact the credit bureau to get those errors resolved. By law, you are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from one of the three major credit bureaus. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com1 to request your free credit report. CreditKarma.com

2. Find out how much you can afford for your monthly payment

Most financial experts recommend spending no more than 30% of your income on housing. That means if you bring home $5,000 each month, then your mortgage payment should be no more than $1,500 each month.

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3. Decide how much you're willing to pay for the down payment

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,2 20% of the home's purchase price is the ideal amount for a down payment. But if you don't have 20% for a down payment, don't worry — lenders offer a wide variety of loans, some requiring little or no down payment. Just remember that the more money you put down on your home, the less your monthly payment will be.

4. Pull your paperwork together

When you're ready to talk with a lender, they'll need some documentation from you, including recent pay stubs, bank account statements, W-2s, the total amount of your monthly debt payments (such as car loans, credit card debt, student loans, etc.), and the names and addresses of your landlords for the past two years.

5. Find lenders and get prequalified for a mortgage

Many first-time homebuyers go to their local bank or credit union, and that's the best place to start. You can also apply at two or three different lenders to compare rates and loan options. It's best to talk with a lender and get pre-qualified before you start shopping for your first home. That way, you know how much money you'll be able to borrow.

6. Consider your mortgage options

Two of the most common options are fixed and adjustable rate mortgages. Most first time buyers should choose a fixed rate mortgage.

  • With a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate is locked in for the life of the loan. That means you will pay the same amount every month and can plan accordingly.

  • An adjustable-rate mortgage, on the other hand, has a fixed interest rate for a set period of time, and then it fluctuates according to market inflation rates. Typically, this kind of mortgage offers a lower, more attractive, introductory rate. However, if the market interest rate increases, it is likely that your mortgage rate will increase as well. Adjustable-rate mortgages have more variability than fixed-rates ones and are hard to predict, so they are suitable mostly for individuals not planning on holding long-term mortgages.

7. Don't forget about closing costs

After you find the right home and the seller accepts your offer, you'll go through the process of purchasing the home, which involves paying closing costs to cover various bank, legal, and third-party fees. Closing costs can be paid by the buyer, the seller, or a combination of both; who pays for closing costs will be stated in the contract that your real estate agent negotiates for you. Closing can costs vary widely — from 2% to 7% — so talk with your realtor or mortgage broker to get a more accurate estimate of what to expect for your area and the type of property you're hoping to buy.

Bonus: Getting your budget together isn’t the only thing to consider when purchasing your first home. Once you have looked at your financials and decided what you can afford, the next biggest thing is to decide what sort of home will work best for your lifestyle, whether it is a townhome, condo or single family home. You also need to consider what the cost of the Home Owner’s Association will add to your monthly budget.

Would you like a guide to walk you through the process step by step? Click here to get your free guide now!

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