Buying a house can always be an intimidating process, but buying your first house is truly nerve-wracking. But it's also fun and exciting, and our REALTORS® are here to get you through the hard parts so you can enjoy becoming a homeowner for the first time. Here's how you can get ready to buy your first home.
- Save for That Down Payment
The more you are able to save up for a down payment, the more likely you are to secure a mortgage with a good interest rate. For most homebuyers, the magic number for a down payment is 20% of the home's cost, but there are other options. Programs are available for first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 5%, but it's still in your best interest to start saving early and save as much as you can to put down a significant down payment.
- Keep an Eye on Your Credit
A credit score is just one factor that lenders will look at while deciding whether to offer you a mortgage, but it's a significant one. Credit score can impact whether you're approved for a home loan, and will likely affect the terms and interest rate. Obtain a copy of your credit report, dispute any errors, and take any steps you can to improve your credit. These include:
- Pay off your debts
- Make monthly credit card payments on time
- Pay more than the monthly minimum on credit card bills
- Avoid opening new lines of credit
- Don't close inactive accounts
- Figure Out How Much House You Can Afford
Before you even start looking at houses, you need to know your price range. Take a hard look at your budget, and remember to make room for other things. As a general rule, your total monthly housing cost (including HOA fees, taxes, insurance, and so on) should be no more than 25% of your take-home pay.
- Get Pre-Approved for a Loan
Once you've saved for your down payment and figured out a ballpark idea of your budget, you can start shopping around for a mortgage. But it's important to get pre-approved first and to do so before you really start looking at homes. Your pre-approval letter will give you a more concrete idea of what a lender will be willing to offer, and also shows sellers that you're serious about buying. The pre-approval process involves having a lender verify your financial information; you will need to supply documentation as proof of income, taxes, etc.
- Remember to Budget for Closing Costs
Closing costs often fall to the buyer, and it's easy to forget about these in your financial planning. What makes up these costs varies from house to house, but they typically include an appraisal, home inspection, credit report, attorney fees, and homeowner's insurance. Closing costs usually add up to between 3% and 5% of the home's total cost.
Our team has years of experience connecting first-time homebuyers with D.C. homes for sale, and we're committed to helping you through the entire process. Contact us today to learn more about finding your dream home in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding areas.