Buying your first house is an exciting part of the American dream! However, it is an extensive process that you need to be prepared for to avoid getting in over your head. Let’s take a look at 10 steps you can take to successfully get through the buying process and move into the home of your dreams:

  1. Decide on a Budget: Before looking for a home, you need to understand how much you can afford without completely wiping out your savings. Take inventory of your assets for a possible down payment, closing fees, and monthly mortgage. Plus, check your credit score to make sure it is an accurate representation of your history — and if there are any mistakes, fix them before continuing down the road of home buying.
  1. Shop for a Mortgage: Speak with a mortgage professional about getting pre-approved or pre-qualified for a loan before shopping for a home. This calculation of your income and expenses will reveal a more exact picture of how much home you can afford while expediting the buying process in the long run.
  1. Research First-Time Buyer Programs: First-time home buyers often qualify for various incentives through loans from the Veterans Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Federal Housing Administration, and more. Ask a mortgage professional about your options to take advantage of perks such as zero or low down payment and minimal interest.
  1. Hire a Buyer’s Agent: Working with a seller’s real estate agent may prove problematic as they are obligated to fight for the best interest of the seller, not you. Seek out a buyer’s agent you can trust to work toward getting the best price and terms for you.
  1. Find the Home of Your Dreams: Peruse the housing market to find a home that fits your needs and wants. Try to visit as many houses as you can (10-20) before deciding on one. You may fall in love with the second one you see, but you could find another one later that you like even more. It is also important not to ignore the downsides of a house just because you love certain aspects. For example, a long commute may seem doable in the beginning but could end up causing more stress over time.
  1. Know What you Should be Paying: The Federal Housing Finance Agency found that first-time homebuyers pay 0.79% more on average for a home than experienced buyers, as they tend to only focus on the positives and ignore the potential drawbacks of the house.1 Review market analyses to compare nearby houses to the price of your home and make sure you are being charged fairly.
  1. Have Your Home Inspected: While they can be expensive, having a licensed home inspector analyze a previously owned home will likely save you big bucks in the long run. Bring any hidden damage that you might miss to light before you put any money down.
  1. Make an Offer: Once you are certain about your decision to purchase the home, speak with your agent about making an offer. You will typically want to start on the lower end of their asking price and work your way up, depending on the market analysis and the seller’s persistence.
  1. Prepare for Expected Costs: Even if you qualify for a first-time buyer’s program and are granted the ability to put zero down on a home, you might consider putting money down to lower your monthly payments. Also, you should expect to pay closing costs and moving fees as part of your homebuying expenses.
  1. Wait Until the Sale Is Final to Open Credit: A very common mistake homebuyers make is opening credit cards to buy items such as furniture or other home necessities before the sale is final. This can severely impact your loan standing, as your mortgage loan is determined based on your credit score and debt-to-income ratio. To be safe, resist opening any credit accounts until after closing on your home.

For information on how APGFCU can help you get into a new home for a low rate today, visit our mortgage page or call 888-LOAN-391.