11 Tips to Help You Through the First-Time Home Buying Process

May 13, 2016

You’ve decided to take the big step of buying your first home. Or maybe you’re just starting to weigh your options. Either way, there are a lot of things to keep in mind when beginning the process to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed. Here are 11 tips to help you through the first-time home buying process:

  1. Check Your Credit  
    This is an important first step because you need to make sure you’re in good standing before you contact a lender. Check to make sure there are no errors or unpaid accounts that could be negatively affecting your credit score. Also during this process, avoid any new debts like buying a car or opening a new credit card.
  1. Start Organizing Your Documents
    It is wise to start getting your paperwork in order so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute. Start collecting recent pay stubs, previous W-2’s, tax returns and monthly bank statements.
  1. Ask Yourself, “How Much Can I Afford?”
    Before you even start looking for your dream home, you should determine exactly what you can afford. This is imperative so you don’t waste time looking at a home that is out of your price range, or worse, end up in a home you really can’t afford. For a quick look, use our online loan calculator.
  1. Identify Your Potential Down Payment
    This is often one of the most daunting aspects during the first-time home buying process. A common perception is that a 20% down payment is required. That’s not always easy for someone in their 20’s or 30’s. It’s also not always the case. There are some options, like FHA loans, with down payment requirements of only 3.5%. ENB’s Wealth Builder mortgage allows qualifying home-buyers to purchase a home with $0 down. There are also a variety of down payment assistance programs available through state and local non-profit agencies for which some borrowers are eligible.
  1. Research Loan Programs
    Do your research and find out what type of first-time homebuyer product is the best fit for you. There are some great options, like our GreatStart HomeLoan, which has guarantees that your principal and interest payments* will never increase over the life of the loan. This can often give first-time homebuyers a sense of peace that they are truly locking in with what they can afford.
  1. Find a Trusted Realtor
    This is very important because you will be spending a lot of time with this person and need to be able to trust them! Sit down and review the entire home-buying process and discuss what you are looking for in a house. Make sure the agent has worked extensively in the area you are interested so they can offer the best advice for that particular market.
  1. Start House Hunting
    We’ve all seen the shows that make this process look so easy! The truth is, you might see dozens of homes before you find the perfect one. Do your research ahead of time, decide what’s most important to you in a house, a neighborhood etc. Don’t wait around for your realtor to find you the perfect house; you should be looking too! There are so many great websites that allow you to house hunt right from your sofa!
  1. Take Your Time
    There’s nothing worse than feeling rushed into a decision, especially a big one like buying a house. Try not to get too emotionally attached to a house because the process is long and unexpected things can happen along the way. You don’t want to jump into something that you later regret. Take your time. Do your research. Weigh the pros and cons.
  1. Get an Inspection
    When you find a house you love, it can be tempting to skip out on getting a home inspection because of the extra cost. However, this is a small expense compared to how much you could be spending on repairs and upgrades down the road. During the inspection, pay attention and take notes. Inspectors oftentimes have plenty of great house tips.
  1. Close or Move On
    The results of your inspection will largely influence whether you move to closing or simply move on. If potential issues were revealed during the inspection, you can negotiate with the seller to make any necessary repairs. If a deal breaking issue is uncovered and can’t be resolved, don’t be afraid to walk away.
  1. You’re a New Homeowner: Now What?
    Being a homeowner is never a job complete. You should always be thinking about saving money for an emergency fund and performing routine maintenance to ensure up-to-date appliances and systems. But more importantly, enjoy your new home and be proud of what you have accomplished!

As intimidating as it can be, the first-time home buying process is an exciting and rewarding experience. By educating yourself and understanding the entire process, you can take a lot of stress out of the equation. Also, finding a bank you trust is important and ENB is here to help! Contact one of our Mortgage Experts to guide you through each step of the home-buying process.

*20-year term required to lock in interest rate for the life of the loan. 30-year term with a 10/1 Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM) is also available. Increases in property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums could cause monthly payments to change over the life of the loan.