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If you are in the market for the first time, and don't know where to start, you've come to the right place. Below you will find answers to many common questions.

    How do I find the best mortgage?

        First you need to ask yourself these following question, "What are my assets?" Examples being your primary and supplementary sources of income, investments, etc... all of which will convey to your loan officer that you'll be able to make the monthly mortgage payments on your new home. You need to include such sources of income as any overtime pay, bonuses, commissions, alimony, child support, disability, weekend jobs, and so on into this equation. You'll also need to prove to your loan officer that you've established a steady history at work -- that you've remained at your current and previous places of employment for a respectable period, and that your income is steady and not subject to cyclical or seasonal factors. 

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       Also most first-time buyers are renters. The best time to close on a house is when your current lease ends. Don't sign another year-long lease if you expect to buy a home before that lease period expires; otherwise you'll end up with a dent in your pocketbook from writing rent and mortgage checks. If you can't time your closing correctly, approach your landlord about a shorter lease say, three to six months in length. One alternative is a month-to-month lease. Or you can ask your landlord to include an escape clause in your new lease that will allow you to get out of your lease with 30 or 60 days' notice.

    Take time to research! 

       This is one of the most important financial decisions that you and your family will make. Next to buying a new car or sending your kids to college your mortgage could be with you for sometimes up to 30 years.  Research the neighborhood, research the rates, research various lenders and brokers- RESEARCH!!!   

       Remember buying a house covers many areas and has legal, financial and emotional considerations to think about. It's good to learn from the mistakes other home buyers have made so that you won't find yourself being disappointed and spending $1,000's on the wrong house. There are far too many variables--type of mortgage, term, lender and amount of points to mention a few--not to investigate all of your options. Don't simply accept the first plan presented to you, whether it is from a mortgage broker, an Agent or on the recommendation of a friend or relative. Spend time comparing to get the most advantageous plan for your requirements and financial situation. Don't get me wrong, owning a home can be a great and rewarding experience. Take the time needed to make the best and wisest decision. I know you'll be glad you did! 

   Wait for the "right" home!

       Many first time buyers make the mistake that they will, if they look around long enough, find a home that has a full 100% of their needs and wants. With the thousands of variables available in housing, including location, style, size, amenities and condition, this is almost always an unrealistic goal. There are two potential problems with this strategy: First, these buyers pass by homes that meet 90% or more of their requirements only to eventually give up (often purchasing homes with less of their requirements because they are worn out!) and second, while they are waiting for the "perfect" home, housing market prices (and often mortgage rates) continue to rise, adding expense to their purchase. Instead, it makes sense to determine the most important of your needs and the most desired of your wants and selecting a home that meets the majority of them.

    Buying in a neighborhood you know nothing about.  

       I've already touched on this but again it is a very important factor to think about. Sometimes first-time buyers will fall in love with a house in a neighborhood that is inappropriate for them. Even though you'll live in the house, you'll have to travel through the neighborhood to get there. Is it a nice neighborhood? Is there graffiti on every wall? Are there gangs? Is there a neighborhood crime watch group? Are the neighbors your age? Are there families around the same age as yours? Is it a transient neighborhood, or do families stay there forever?

      To avoid making this mistake, spend a lot of time in the neighborhood before you buy. Drive to and from the house. Sit in your car and watch your future neighbors come home from work. Listen to how loudly their children play their favorite rock music. Walk to the local bar, restaurant, grocery store, and cleaners. Think about whether or not this neighborhood will make you as happy as the house.

    Buying a property that's difficult to resell. 

       Although you say you don't mind that the house sits next to the local railroad, you will when it comes time to sell the home. And it's unlikely you'll be able to easily convince another buyer just how quiet and peaceful life is there. When buying a home, try not to buy one that will be difficult to resell because even though you think you'll be there forever, you won't. Most first-time buyers sell within five to seven years. Think hard about how you would sell this home before you buy it. Walk yourself through and point out all the negatives. 

     Over-buying the first time. . .

      Being "house poor" is a very uncomfortable existence. A large and beautiful home with little or no furniture tends to be empty and cold. A life where almost every dime of your earnings goes to the support of your house wears thin very quickly and is a frequent cause of family stress. Pushing yourself right up to--or beyond--your limits leaves you highly exposed when the inevitable changes to the national or your personal economy occur. Leave yourself some breathing room! 

    Don't take shortcuts with the inspection process.

      This can involve skipping a whole house inspection completely in order to save the relatively small amount of money involved or it may involve using a friend or relative with limited experience to conduct the inspection. In either case you run the risk of not exposing potentially expensive--or even hazardous--defects in the property. Protect yourself and invest the $200 to $500 for a professional inspection.

     Okay I'm ready. How much of a down payment do I start with?

       One of the first questions that almost every first time home buyer asks is, "how much of a down payment am I  going to need to start with?" Since every case is different there is no correct standard answer. Down payments will vary from 0% (with a VA--Veteran's Administration loan) to upwards of 25% (with certain "non-conforming" loans). On an average, most home buyers make down payments in the 5%-15% range, although your own personal situation may dictate more or less down payment. When you are factoring money for a down payment, don't forget about closing costs, which will total in the 2-5% range, payable in cash at the time of closing.

    Don't overextend your budget.  

      Although the lender who pre-qualifies you for your loan tells you you're able to afford a $350,000 home, buying in that price range may stretch your budget beyond the comfort zone. To avoid feeling pinched, it's important to understand how you spend your money. You may be comfortable spending 35 percent of your take-home pay on rent, or you may prefer to spend less say, 25 percent.

      Write down everything you spend (down to that last piece of bubble gum) for two months. Can you live without buying your favorite group's latest CD? Would you feel uncomfortable knowing you can go out to dinner only once a month? That you must eliminate your yearly vacation? That your children can't have camp or piano lessons and so on . . .

    Don't choose the wrong mortgage. 

      Many first-time buyers have heard from their parents that the only mortgage to get is a 30-year fixed interest rate loan. That's because the generation ahead of you didn't have the tailor-made financial options buyers have today. Consider choosing an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) to take advantage of super-low interest rates. Or pick a 10- or 15-year fixed interest rate loan to maximize your deduction, and save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest. Or you might want to look into a two-step mortgage, which combines a little of the risk of an ARM with the dependability of a fixed-rate loan. Explore all the options. Have your lender show you on paper how much they'll cost you and how they compare with each other.

    What is Pre-qualification? Does it mean that the loan is approved?

       Pre-qualification is the initial step in securing a mortgage. A lender will analyze your current income, debt and basic credit history situation in order to qualify you for a maximum loan amount. This gives you a clear picture of your financial parameters and a maximum housing price (the mortgage amount plus your down payment). With pre-approval, the lender verifies your income, debt and financial picture, approving the loan subject to a favorable appraisal of the property you select.


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