Starting the Home Search
The first question that first-time home buyers need to ask is what they are looking for in a home. Their search may be confined by the location that they need, special features, or number of bedrooms for a family. No matter what your needs, writing them down early in the process can help you keep your home search on track.
- Determine Your Budget: Budget will take many factors into account, most of which will involved your income and existing debts. If you have a lot of other monthly debt payments, such as student loans or vehicle loans, you may want to consider a smaller or less expensive home. Determining your budget will help you avoid getting in over your head financially. Your budget should also account for taxes, insurance, homeowner’s association dues, and any other costs associated with home ownership.
- Get Pre-approved: Getting a letter from your lender stating that they have done a preliminary review of your basic application and think you are a good candidate for a VA loan can help when making a purchase offer on a home. Sellers like to see that potential buyers are pre-approved because they know that the sale is more likely to be completed with few or no hurdles. This can also be a good opportunity to talk to your lender about what amount you can afford.
- Working with a Real Estate Agent: A real estate agent can help you navigate the home buying process from start to finish, a real benefit for first-time homebuyers. They are experts on the local area, can direct you to a reputable lender, and take care of all required paperwork during the process. This provides peace of mind to the buyer, knowing that they have a true professional on their real estate team.
Comparing Loan Products
The VA loan is almost always the best option for military service members, Veterans, and qualifying family members. But it is useful to know about other mortgage options to compare.
The VA has guidelines for loan eligibility, but the interest rate offered is still up to the individual lending institution. When talking to lenders, make sure to ask them about what terms they can offer. This can include waiving fees or offering low interest rates.
The home buying process is very exciting and never more so than for a first-time homebuyer. Determining your home criteria and budget, finding a reputable lender who is easy to work with, and getting the help of a real estate agent can make the process both easy and fun.