7 tips for first-time homebuyers

Buying a home for the first time is an exciting experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges.

As an inexperienced buyer, you'll need all the help you can get to understand the process. There are steps to applying for mortgages, combing through home listings, negotiating with sellers, finding the right real estate agent and a host of other responsibilities. While much of understanding the endeavor of homebuying comes through working with an agent and lenders, you can prepare for some things.

Here are seven tips for buying a home for the first time:

  1. Determine what you can afford. Look at your regular expenses, and determine how much of your monthly household income you're spending on debt. Checking your credit report can help with determining where you're spending money for bills. Generally, you don't want to spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing costs each month, so use this as a guide for how much you can spend on mortgage payments. Once you have that figure, look at what you've saved for the down payment, and don't forget to account for closing costs and other expenses. Homeowners insurance, property taxes and utility bills should also be considered.
  2. Get preapproved. Before you start shopping for a home, speak with one of our bankers to get preapproved for one of our home loans. We'll evaluate your financial history the same as we would for the actual mortgage application and give you a letter with your preapproval amount, which can be used as proof that you can obtain financing during the negotiation process.
  3. Work with a real estate agent. There are many resources online to help first-time buyers get an understanding of the current national and local housing markets and find the right home, but sometimes it's best to let the experts take charge. A good real estate agent knows everything about the homebuying process, from how to convince the seller to accept a contingent offer to red flags to look out for when viewing a property.
  4. Start shopping online. Buying a home is a time-consuming process, and one way to work efficiently is to start by looking at listings on the Internet. Typically, ads with more details and pictures are a good place to start.
  5. Think about resale value. After you've narrowed down a list of homes from your online search results, it's time to start viewing your choices. While shopping, think not only about how you feel about a home, but also how future buyers will perceive the property. Many first time home owners don't stick with their starter property for life, so you'll want to determine whether a home you're considering has good resale value.
  6. Get a home inspection. You don't want to find the perfect house only to discover that it has underlying issues after you've signed the contract. No matter how nice a property appears to be, have a professional home inspector give it a thorough review. He or she will let you know if there are mold, electrical or other problems that need to be fixed, and you can make your offer contingent on those repairs being completed.
  7. Read all paperwork before signing. There are many documents to be signed during the homebuying process. Make sure that you understand what each agreement is saying, your obligations under those contracts and what legal protections you are granted.

Get the help you need
Following these tips is often as easy as getting the right help, which is why you should check out our First-time Homebuyer Program. Many lenders are out there, but few will give you the top-notch service you get with Landmark Bank. Not only do we provide expert mortgage guidance for U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Federal Housing Administration loans, but we also give you a $1,400 credit toward your closing costs* for joining the program.

Contact one of our mortgage bankers today to get started. All you need is your two most recent pay stubs, tax returns, W-2s and checking or savings account statements.

For more information about smart ways to manage your finances, contact Landmark Bank.

*With approved credit. Some restrictions may apply.

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