So you’re thinking of buying a home?
Buying a home can be a daunting task, especially for the first-time home-buyer. Your home is likely to be the biggest and most important purchase you will make in your life. It is not a decision to rush into. Fortunately, there are many resources available to you to assist you in the process of buying a home, and you would do well to make use of them. Your most important ally in the home-buying process is your realtor. Choose a realtor, whom you are comfortable working with and who will take the time to show you as many properties as you need to see to make your decision.
Another person you should see very early in the home-buying process is a mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers are specialists in mortgage financing. They are the middle-men between you, the prospective buyer, and the lender, who will provide the funding for your purchase. A good mortgage broker can help you to select the right loan for your specific needs and help procure you the best rate. He or she can also give you a better idea of how much home you can afford and has tips on how to improve your credit-worthiness. While this assistance comes at a price, of course, for the first-time buyer especially, the advice and expertise of a broker is well worth the cost. However, one must be careful in selecting a broker! Ask for referrals from your realtor, friends or other trusted sources when selecting your broker; it is advisable to interview at least two different brokers before settling on the one you wish to give your business to. A professional broker will not charge you for the initial meeting or for his advice; just like your realtor, he gets paid when the real estate deal closes, not any sooner.
Besides your realtor and your broker, you have another, possibly unexpected friend in the home-buying process: Uncle Sam wants you to achieve the American dream of home ownership! There are several government-backed programs that can speed your way into your own four walls: The Federal Housing Administration has a program that backs home loans with as little as 3.5% down payment for first-time home buyers. (Check out www.FHA.gov for more information in FHA loans.) There are also great programs for veterans, as well as the Homepath Mortgage program, which helps provide loans for certain Fannie Mae-owned foreclosed properties (www.homepath.com). Ask your broker for more information about these programs.
While you have much to learn, and many hurdles to overcome, purchasing your first home should be an adventure, and a fun one at that. In all the excitement, and with all the decisions you will have to make – don’t forget where you are headed after all: HOME.
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