While your starter home may not be your forever home, finding and financing the right property is important. Here’s three things you should know as a first-time home buyer when it comes to finding the right property and financing your starter home!
Building Your Team
It’s normal for first-time home buyers to have a long list of questions when they begin their starter-home journey. The good news is that you can build your own team of house experts to answer your questions and guide you through the home buying process. Aside from yourself, the key players in the home buying process will be your mortgage loan officer and your real estate agent. Your loan officer will help you get pre-approved, complete your mortgage application, determine your price range, choose the right loan product, and guide you to the closing table. Your real estate agent will help you find the right starter home in your price range, put in an offer and negotiate the purchase price.
Financing Your Starter Home
A mortgage loan officer can get you started on your home buying journey by getting you pre-approved. This starts by taking an in-depth look at your credit report and ability to purchase a home. The loan officer will verify your source of income, look at your assets, and examine your credit score and payment history, so they will need items like pay stubs, W-2 forms, and bank statements to get rolling. The loan officer will also evaluate your credit score and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Your credit score impacts the interest rate and the type of loan you qualify for, and it is made up of five parts: payment history, outstanding balances, length of credit history, types of credit used, and number of credit inquiries. The higher your credit score, the better! Your debt-to-income ratio is determined by dividing your total monthly debts by your household’s gross income, which is income before taxes. Multiply this number by 100, and you will get your DTI percentage. Keep in mind the lower the DTI percentage the better!
Finding the Right Home
After you have worked with your mortgage lender to get pre-approved and determine your price range, you will want to start the house-hunting with your real estate agent. Begin by choosing the area you want to live in, whether it’s a city or a certain neighborhood. Finding a house you love might be at the top of your priority list, but you should also consider the surrounding area. What is the school system like? Is it close to shopping, dining, and other activities you enjoy? Since this is also your starter home, you need to look down the road and consider the resale value of the property when you are ready to sell.
This is also the perfect time to create your starter home wish list. This tool will help you determine what you must have in your new house in addition to what you are willing to compromise on. Items on this checklist includes things like number of bedrooms, bathrooms, but also things like having a yard, finished basement, or walk-in closets. Get started today by using our checklist!