Buying a home for the first time will likely be one of the most exciting endeavours you’ll experience in your adult life. After years of working hard and building your savings account, it’s finally time to invest in a home or condo you can call your own.
But despite the range of emotions you’ll feel before taking that first leap into home ownership, there’s little doubt you’ll come to realize the home buying process can often be a bit overwhelming and, at times, quite stressful. So after a long and extensive home search, it’s finally time to make the ultimate decision on moving forward with such a large investment. What’s next, you ask?
Well before signing on the dotted line, it’s important to realize what resources are available to first time homebuyers and how taking advantage of each enables you to make the best possible decision moving forward. Below is a quick reference guide on the five essential tools for first time homebuyers that will help make potential homeowners aware of what information is available and how you can use it to your advantage when purchasing your first home:
1) Home Buyer Grants/Down Payment Assistance - Given the challenges facing today’s housing market, financing for a home or condo has become increasingly harder to acquire. In fact, according to recent mortgage data, the average down payment for a home has jumped to 34% of the purchase price; and as a first-time homebuyer, having this sort of cash supply is relatively unlikely, especially in larger markets such as New York, San Francisco, or Chicago. Making yourself aware of the various home buyer grants and first time home buying credits available in each individual state can sometimes mean the difference between getting a loan and having to find alternative financing. To learn more about what each state offers, visit http://www.hud.gov/buying/localbuying.cfm
2) Professional Realtors - Guiding people through the home buying process is a real estate agent’s job. Don’t just rely on a simple Google search when shopping for properties on the real estate market. Not only do local real estate agents know the market better than you, but they’re also required to know laws and regulations relating to home ownership in your area. If you have questions regarding a certain property or finding a property that fits your needs, working with a Realtor will help get you the answers you need much faster than doing the research on your own!
3) Mortgage101 - If you’re a first-time homebuyer, there’s a good chance you’re not familiar with the various types of mortgage loans available to consumers. While tons of websites out there help explain the ins and outs of mortgage loans, Mortagage101.com provides all the information you need ranging from current mortgage rates to an extensive mortgage lender directory in your desired location.
4) GreatSchools.org - If living in a particular school district or ensuring you choose a home in an area with top-rated schools is main priority when buying your first home, researching all the local schools is likely on your list of things to-do. GreatSchools.org is a phenomenal web tool that gives users school rankings based on standardized test scores, a map of the area, and contact information to every school in the area of your search. So whatever the questions or concerns you have about a particular school, many times the answer you need can easily be found on GreatSchools.org.
5) Free Credit Report Sites - Obviously your credit score will dictate how you obtain financing for your new home. If you’re like many young people considering home ownership for the first time, knowing your current credit score may not be a given. And while some of the free credit report websites may not produce as detailed a report as you’ll need to secure a loan, some of these sites do allow consumers to get a general idea of where they are in terms of basic qualifications. FreeCreditReport.com and FreeScore.com are two of the most used credit report sites in the nation and are extremely user-friendly.