Beginning the task of buying my first home was an overwhelming prospect, but it only took a bit of research into a few specific factors to set my mind at ease. Things like government assistance programs, understanding what kind of house I wanted, what kind of budget we could afford helped us build the confidence we needed to take the next step. Here are a few things that assisted us in this journey.
Look for first-time home buyer programs. Many states have assistance programs to help buyers purchasing their first home. The program we enrolled in required us to take a course on buying our first home, which was filled with information about the process, as well as financial information that helped us decide what we could afford. The savings that we gained through this program gave us options for a better interest rate, which meant we would pay less for our house in the long run.
What is the market like? Is it better to continue to rent? It is always good to do some research on the state of the housing market. Though this market is not always predictable, knowing the trends both nationwide and in your area will help you to make a more educated decision about your purchase. I did a lot of investigating online about this, and found many resources at my disposal.
What is the area like? Good schools, good neighborhood? My husband and I are planning to start a family soon, so it was important to me to find an area with excellent schools, as well as areas like parks and other services that our family could benefit from. There are lots of websites online that provide information about schools, both private and public. It is also good to consider going to the school in person and perhaps asking the secretarial staff about the school and the surrounding areas. Often those that work in the school may live in the area, so this will provide you with a chance to ask someone directly about what they like and dislike about their neighborhood.
What about banks and loans? Credit history? The first bank we called gave us a good amount of information not only about what kinds of loans they provided, but also some opportunities that might help us save money down the road. It is important to be familiar with both your credit score and credit history at this point in the process. Another of the banks we spoke with informed us that it might be best for us to wait until we had rented our apartment for a full year before buying a home. By showing that we could pay rent on time would show the lender we were likely to the same with a mortgage.
Though it can be a daunting process, understanding the basics can help alleviate some of the stress that comes along with buying your first home. Being armed with this knowledge helped me to focus more on what I wanted in a home and instead of worrying about the mystery of the home buying process.