Home buying is not often considered a simple task. The decision to buy is definitely a big one and one of life’s major milestones.
Buying your first home does not have to be rocket science either. At Rockland Trust, we see potential homebuyers at all stages - from starting to save for a down payment to refinancing homes they’ve lived in for decades. One of the most common questions is where to begin. Just like Dorothy followed the yellow brick road, you can follow three manageable steps to start the process of buying your first home:
Easier said than done, right? First, it’s important to review your financial priorities, needs, and wants whenever you make a major decision. This step is especially important if you’re buying with a partner. Talking about finances can be tricky and awkward, but it’s a necessary conversation to help guide the decision-making process. With your goals in mind, determine a budget that makes sense for you. It’s important to consider all of the financial implications of buying a home, including your mortgage payment, closing costs, taxes, and insurance. Once you have a budget in mind, begin, change or enhance your saving strategy for your down payment. While socking away a 20 percent down payment may seem impossible, there a number of programs that help first time home buyers like you that could require less of a down payment. If you put down less than 20 percent, you are required to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Throughout the process, you’ll want someone to be your coach, cheerleader and advocate. Someone in your corner to help, or maybe offer a reality check, when needed. This is where a seasoned realtor and trusted loan officer come in handy.
Think of it like dating, compatibility is key - you want to find a realtor with experience in the area that you’re looking to purchase a home and who may also have experience working with first time buyers.
Just as important, you’ll want a loan officer you trust. This person can help answer all of your process and financial questions, from determining how much you can afford to acting a liaison later in the process once you’ve found a home. You want a strong and knowledgeable advocate who will be in your corner every step of the way.
Once you find an experienced and trusted lender, you’ll want to get started on the pre-approval process. This helps determine that your income justifies the amount of the loan you’re looking for, and will help the process run smoother and more quickly once you find your perfect place. With your pre-approval in hand, you can start the fun part - thinking about what type of features you’d like in your home. This is entirely personal and different for everyone. Knowing what is necessary and what is just nice to have will help you and your realtor narrow down houses.
And just like that, you’re ready to go!
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for determining if now is the right time for you to buy a home, and you can’t click your heels together and find yourself in your dream house. But the one thing we know for certain is that you don’t have to go it alone. A mortgage specialist at Rockland Trust can help you decide whether now is a good time for you and explain options for making mortgage payments that fit your budget. Stop in to one of our branches to discuss your options.
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