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There are many first time home buyer programs available for folks who are making their first purchase. While a buyer can call lenders to compare their programs, it is often more effective to enlist the assistance of a real estate professional who has experience working with first time buyers. A knowledgeable professional will be aware of the bank and mortgage brokers' programs as well as any community or state bond funding that is being offered. First time buyers will frequently receive lower interest rates, down payment assistance, tax abatements and other incentives to purchase. Rarely will a traditional mortgage compare to the benefits offered by a first time buyer program.
A great book for the first time home buyer is Kiplinger's Buying & Selling A Home. The book is a compilation of home buying savvy edited by the staff of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine. In it you will find tips and resources to guide first time homebuyers through every step of the home buying process, including picking an agent, finding listings, placing an offer, home inspections, and closing costs. The book is available at both local and online book stores. Another great book is 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask: With Answers from Top Brokers from Around the Country by Ilyce R. Glick, also available locally and online.
Most first time home buyers don't realize what they are getting themselves into when they begin to fantasize about home sweet home. There is the home inspection, the closing costs, buyer's broker fee, appraisal fees, mortgage approval fees--you name it! The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development includes on its Web site a list of approved housing counseling agencies many of which offer first time home buyer programs. First time home buyers who participate in one of these courses are much less likely to fall prey to predatory lending practices and report a higher level of satisfaction with their home ownership decision.
There are a host of online resources for both first time home buyers and repeat home buyers. For example, there are sites which provide real estate relocation service throughout the U.S. plus 20 other countries, includes resources for first time home buyers as well as veteran home buyers. On many sites you will find articles, calculators, and links to agents and property listings. Another great online resource for home buyers is the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development's Web site, which includes a wealth of information on real estate related matters. If you haven't decided on a new neighborhood or you want to learn about a distant area you are relocating to, visit Sperling's Best Places Web site.
The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development includes on its Web site a list of approved housing counseling agencies many of which offer first-time homebuyer programs. These programs are designed to help first time home buyers weigh the benefits of renting vs. buying. The programs teach first time home buyers about the different mortgage programs that are available, the value of a home inspection, and what to expect at closing. First time home buyers who participate in one of these courses are much less likely to fall prey to predatory lending practices and report a higher level of satisfaction with their home ownership decision.
There is so much to consider if you are a first time home buyer. The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development offers the HUD Home Scorecard (available on its Web site) to help new home buyers make smart choices when selecting a home. Some of the things HUD recommends you consider when touring homes is future growth potential of the home. You may fit now, but will your growing family fit in a few years? Bedroom and bathroom space is a big consideration. If you find a home you want to make an offer on, make one of the terms of sale a thorough home inspection to ensure the home is structurally sound and all major systems are working. If you're interested in taking a first time home buyer program, visit HUD's Web site for a list of approved counseling agencies offering these programs.
Buying real estate can be a daunting experience, but in today's confusing market, you really need a good team to back you up and take the burden off your shoulders. Here are some tips to help guide you in the right direction of purchasing the home of your dreams.
1. Your Realtor is the key and a valuable resource in finding the home you want in the price range you want. Sit down with them and discuss your plan of action. Your wants and must haves all come into play. The area you're looking in is information your agent will use to narrow down your search and make the process a little bit easier. Knowing this before you head out and start to look can increase your chances of finding the right home in a short period of time.
2. Your lender plays an important role in not just lending you money, but pre-qualifying you before you start your search. Having a written pre-approval letter will let sellers know you're a serious buyer and have thought about your purchase. Pick a lender you feel comfortable with and someone who will work closely with your agent to get the deal closed.
3. Once you make an offer, you'll need to have the home inspected. This is a "must" that can save you a lot of money and headaches down the road. Talk to a few inspection companies before making a decision. Once the inspection process is done, you will be on the way to moving into your DREAM home.
There are many unforeseen obstacles in purchasing a new home, but when you have the right people on your team, you can rest easy and know that you're in good hands. Taking the time to talk to your agent and lender beforehand will give you the information and knowledge you'll need to make the right decision. Taking the stress out of the situation is their job and one a good team doesn't take lightly.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|