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Buy Your First Home in Massachusetts: 15 Questions Answered

By Kevin Vitali | April 8, 2024

Buying your first home is a big deal. And starting off your journey right is critical to your home-buying success. The following are the most common questions asked by Massachusetts First-Time Home buyers.

How Do I Start the Home Buying Process?

Answer: Assess your finances to understand what you can afford. This includes checking your credit score, saving for a down payment, and getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Contact an experienced Buyer’s Agent when you first think of buying a house. They can help you start on the right path to buying your first home.

buying your first home as a Massachusetts first time home buyer

What Can I Afford?

Answer: What you can afford depends on your income, credit rating, current monthly expenses, down payment, and interest rate. Online mortgage calculators can provide a rough estimate, but getting pre-approved by a lender will give you a more accurate figure.

What Is a Mortgage Pre-Approval?

Answer: A mortgage pre-approval is a lender's offer to loan you a certain amount under specific terms. It's based on a review of your financial information and credit score, and it helps you know exactly how much you can borrow. You are taking a stab in the dark without a solid pre-approval and can’t finalize a budget.

How Much Should I Save for a Down Payment?

Answer: It varies. It’s a common misconception you need a 20% down payment, but some programs allow for much less. Some popular first-time buyer programs require as little as 3-5% down. And a few even less. Massachusetts also has some great down payment assistance programs.

What Are Closing Costs?

Answer: Closing costs are fees for finalizing the mortgage, including appraisal fees, title insurance, and more. They typically range from 1% to 3% of the loan amount. They are the costs of obtaining a home mortgage, including title search, origination fees, municipal lien certificate, legal fees, recording fees, and more.

What Is the Difference Between Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval?

Answer: Pre-qualification is an informal assessment of your finances to estimate how much you can borrow. Pre-approval is a more formal process involving submitting financial documents to get a loan offer from a lender. Pre-approval is vetted, where a pre-qualification is given based on the borrower's hearsay. No seller wants to take their home off the market if a buyer can’t prove they can obtain a mortgage.

What Type of Mortgage Should I Choose?

Answer: It depends on your financial situation and how long you plan to stay home. Fixed-rate mortgages keep the same interest rate for the entire loan term, while adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) can change. The 30-year fixed makes the most sense for first-time homebuyers and is the most popular mortgage borrowers opt for. However, there are adjustable rate mortgages that will lower your interest rate initially and are variable after a set period.

What Is PMI?

Answer: Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is a policy that protects the lender if you default on your loan. It's usually required if your down payment is less than 20%. Lenders need to allow low money down programs and PMI allows that.

Can I Buy a Home with Bad Credit?

 Answer: Yes, but it might be more challenging. You might have to pay a higher interest rate or a larger down payment. Government-backed loans like FHA loans might be a great option for borrowers with less-than-stellar credit. Don’t think your credit is so bad you can’t buy a house.

What Should I Look for During the House Hunting Process?

Answer: Focus on the location, the home's condition, any necessary repairs, the size and layout, and future resale value. Also, consider the neighborhood, schools, and local amenities. Don't get enamored with fit and finish if the house does not have good bones.

Should I Get a Home Inspection?

Answer: Yes. A home inspection can reveal hidden problems with the house. You can use this information to negotiate repairs or a lower price with the seller. With today’s hot market, many buyers are giving up the right to a home inspection.  It should not be taken lightly, so discuss your options with your Massachusetts REALTOR.

How Long Does the Home Buying Process Take?

Answer: It varies, but typically, it can take 30 to 60 days from your offer acceptance to closing on the home, assuming there are no significant delays. For many Massachusetts First-Time Home Buyers, the process from getting pre-approved to closing on a home takes 3-6 months.

What Happens at Closing?

Answer: At closing, you'll sign all the necessary paperwork to complete the purchase, including your loan documents. It's also when you'll pay your down payment and closing costs. Once the deed is recorded, you are now a proud owner of a home.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Homeowner?

Answer: Beyond making monthly mortgage payments, homeowners need to pay property taxes, maintain homeowner's insurance, and handle all maintenance and repairs of their new home.  It is essential to budget maintenance and repairs above and beyond your mortgage payment.

Where Can I Find Help as a First-Time Homebuyer?

Answer: Many governments and non-profit organizations offer first-time homebuyer programs that assist with down payments, closing costs, and educational resources. An experienced buyer’s agent can represent you and walk you through the home-buying process… from deciding to buy to ensuring you are settled in your new home.

When buying your first home, realize knowledge is power. The more educated you are about the process, the better. And don't forget to see the help of a REALTOR representing your interest.


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About Kevin: Kevin has been a full time agent for almost 18 years.Kevin works the Haverhill MA Real Estate market as well as Essexand Northern Middlesex Counties in Massachusetts.Kevin is a regular blogger who enjoys educating consumers about how to make the most of their next home purchase or sale.Kevin can be reached at 978-360-0422.
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