Part One: Your First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide
Read Time: 4 Minutes
As shared in the second edition of Your First Home, written by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan:
“Buying a home is a big decision – particularly your first home – but it is one of the best choices anyone can make. It’s a place that is entirely your own. Something you can paint, renovate, and live a full life in. Secondly, the reality is that homes are an incredible way to accumulate generational wealth. Because home isn’t only where your heart is, it’s where your money is, too. There are few places you will treasure more than your home and no place that will add more to your personal treasury.”
While the prospect of homeownership is exciting, it can also be filled with complexities as you embark on the journey for the very first time. Yet, have no fear! Below you’ll find part one of a complete guide to first-time homebuying, courtesy of Your First Home.
When finished, head over to part two, here.
Deciding to Buy
First-time homebuyer fears can range from “I can’t afford to buy a home” to “I can’t buy a home because my credit score is too bad.” While it can be natural to have these thoughts, it’s important to face fears with facts. Let’s take affordability, for instance.
As Keller and Papasan write, “Until you do the math, you don’t know what you can or can’t afford. If you are currently paying rent, generally you can afford to buy. From a financial point of view, in the United States, the tax savings on mortgage interest alone usually make up most of the difference between rent and a mortgage payment – the tax write-offs you get at the end of year will generally help you save a significant amount of money.”
Whenever a fear comes to mind, explore with curiosity and get set on finding the facts.
Finding Your Agent
The legal, financing, and regulatory aspects of real estate transactions are very involved. To provide as much protection as possible for you, it’s wise to find a licensed real estate agent. They will serve as an advocate for you and your interests throughout the entirety of the homebuying process. Their job is about much more than simply finding you the right home; it’s about listening to your needs, anticipating problems, and maintaining standards.
The main duties of your real estate agent include:
- Educating you about your market.
- Analyzing your wants and needs.
- Guiding you to homes that fit your criteria.
- Coordinating the work of other needed professionals.
- Negotiating on your behalf.
- Checking and double-checking paperwork and deadlines.
- Solving any problems that may arise.
Here are a couple of questions to ask as you look for a real estate agent:
- Why did you become a real estate agent?
- Why should I work with you?
- What process will you use to help me find the right home for my wants and needs?
Because home isn’t only where your heart is, it’s where your money is, too. There are few places you will treasure more than your home and no place that will add more to your personal treasury.
Although virtually everyone finds the thought of owning their first home exciting, taking out a mortgage can be a daunting prospect. In general, you’ll probably discover that mortgage loans are less confusing than you might think. The differences between each type of mortgage loan boil down to four basic factors:
- Down payment - Down payment - The initial payment you make toward your home. It’s calculated as a percentage of the entire cost of the house. Historically, homebuyers have been asked to put 20% down, and it has its advantages as it frees you up from private mortgage insurance or “PMI.” But, it’s not necessary. In fact, you can put as little as 5% down (or less) to still own a home! And, you can leverage down payment assistance programs, too. [LR3]
- Interest rate - An interest rate [LR4] is a fee or amount charged by a lender and is usually a percentage of the loan amount. Interest rates are implemented when we use credit for a purchase. And, like credit card rates, home loan interest rates are variable – they change with the market. In general, people want the lowest interest rate possible because that means they’re paying less money in interest over the life of the loan. In addition to saving you thousands in the long term, a lower rate will also reduce the amount you pay each month.
- Term - A mortgage loan’s term will determine how much interest you pay over the life of the loan and how quickly you build equity by paying it down. Different mortgages come with different schedules around repayment. In the case of fixed-rate mortgages, loans are scheduled for repayment over larger swaths of time, like 15, 20, or 30 years. Shorter-term loans are good for people who want to build equity quickly and who can afford a higher monthly payment.
Ready to learn more? Advance to Your First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide (Part Two) where we explore how to identify your home criteria and ultimately, find your home!