As the economic events during the last decade continue to unfold, the housing market has demonstrated a strong comeback and is making a healthy headway towards a solid rebound.
Today’s home purchasers cannot afford to forget about the tremendous financial responsibility of purchasing a home and should begin to prepare now for a future purchase.
Here are four time-tested tips to find financing for a first-time home buyer:
Strengthen your credit score to attract better loan terms.
Since the last real estate bubble, lenders have become stringent and tightened their loan requirements regarding borrowers’ credit history. Mortgage lending basics, however, remain unchanged:
The higher your credit score is, the lower your down payment and monthly payments will be.
To bolster your credit score, immediately settle any outstanding debts and refrain from applying for and obtaining new credit lines for several months before purchasing.
Secure savings for a down payment and reserves after closing.
Savings are essential for a down payment but also have other benefits.
Prospective home buyers with three to five months’ worth of reserves (mortgage payments set aside) are much better home loan candidates. Mortgage lenders often offer more latitude on other approval factors if a buyer can show ample budgetary cushion.
A healthy savings account can also act as an “insurance policy” against unforeseen income-related problems, home expenses, or repairs and give confidence to lenders.
Get pre-approved with a licensed mortgage lender to help your home search.
Sub-prime mortgage loans may be a thing of the past, but you may still be interested in looking at homes you can’t afford. By getting a loan pre-approved as a home buyer, you can save yourself time and the angst of finding your dream house only to realize you cannot make the payment.
Home buyers can also get into a better position to make a solid offer to purchase when the perfect property does come along. By doing budget research first and submitting a thorough analysis of your income and spending power second, you are also less likely to get in over your head with your monthly mortgage payment.
Do your homework before bidding on the right home to maximize your home loan budget.
Before you make an offer on a home, do some digging to find data on the sales trends of similar homes in the neighborhood. Consider only the most recent home sales of equal-sized and type properties in the same area during the last 3 to 6 months.
(As a quick example, if area homes for sale have recently sold for 5 percent less than the asking price, a safe opening bid should probably be about 7-8 percent lower than the seller is asking. If homes in the area sell quickly, you may want to offer 1-2 percent above the asking price.)
Visit these sample real estate sites to help you get started with your research:
Follow these four tips and consider working with an experienced local real estate professional, and you’ll likely find the best deal and mortgage terms on your first home purchase.