You are considered a First Time Home Buyer if you have not owned the home you live in for the last 3 years. In most cases this means you have never purchased a home of any type before. This page has been especially created for you.
Because I've been doing this for a while I already know a few things about you.
First you are likely to be quite apprehensive about the process of buying a home. For most of us this is one of the biggest deals out there. Just making the decision to become a homeowner takes a huge commitment. I'm sure you will have loads of questions. The answers to some of the more fundamental questions can be found on the BUYERS INFORMATION page of our corporate website.
The next thing I can be fairly sure about is that you are going to have finance the purchase. I run across very very few people buying their first home with cash. So the very first thing you need to do is to educate yourself about financing a home. For most of us today this means a Google search. A word of caution here. Not everyone on the web has your best interests at heart when you search for information about mortgages.
One of the best resources I know is the website of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) where you will find unbiased and generally up to date accurate information. This is a link to their home buyer page. Beware of anything on a page that does not begin HUD.Gov!!
Once you have some basic information the next step is to find out how much house are able to purchase. This is called pre approval. It involves you contacting a loan officer and providing them with loads of personal and confidential information. I always suggest that you start with your bank. They are the people who know you best and are probably the most motivated to provide financing for your new home. As an alternative check out my Mortgage Partners page. There you will find links to a couple of lenders I know well and trust.
A quick word on the difference between pre qualification and pre approval. Simplest explanation is that in a pre qualification the lender will take your word for most of the information you give them, for a pre approval they will ask you to prove it. Pre approval is much stronger and you should always get one of those.
Once you have talked to a lender you will know.
- How much money you can spend on your home
- How much money you will need at closing
- What type of loan you qualify for
You should also have a pre approval letter which will need to accompany any offer that you make.
IF the lender tells you don't currently qualify but the problems can be fixed with a little time and work, you may want to consider my Owner Financing/Lease Purchase program with Home Partners of America.
One of the biggest hurdles for may home buyers is saving enough money to make the down payment and the closing costs. The amount of cash needed is always going to be more than you expected, and unfortunately in today's economy it isn't always easy to put more cash in the bank. There are programs available to help with down payment assistance, but they do vary over time, and it's a complicated subject, more complicated than I have space to deal with here. Click here to find out IF YOU QUALIFY FOR DOWNPAYMENT ASSISTANCE.
Assuming all is well and you have your pre approval letter in hand it's time to start seriously looking for a home. Many first time buyers start with the idea that they are going to buy a "fixer upper" because that way they will get a "good deal" and will end up with a bigger and better home in the long run.
I would like to discourage that idea for the following reasons.
A house that is described as a fixer upper by definition is going to need fixed up. That means time and money you probably don't have. In most cases it's going to take most of your available cash just to get to closing, and you probably have to work to make a living. Fixing up a broken down house with time and money you don't have is not a good way to start home ownership.
Most fixer upper homes are bought by cash buyers who fix up homes for a living. You will have to compete with people who buy homes for a living.
Lenders usually take a dim view of a house that "needs work" and they will give you all sorts of grief. Also the sellers (particularly) if it's a foreclosure don't want to deal with those issues and will prefer a quick sale to a cash buyer.
Therefore my recommendation is that you buy a house that has just been "fixed up". You likely to get a new paint, carpets and appliances, as well as a roof that doesn't leak and air conditioning that works. Also you will have a motivated seller who has a vacant house that must be sold. In my experience you will get a nice house at a fair price, that will be a pleasure to live in and will appreciate over time.
Finding these fixed up properties is relatively simple but you probably will need my help, which I will be happy to provide. However here's a thought to get you started.
During the height of the foreclosure crisis some of the banks realized they could make more money reselling the homes they had to foreclose if they actually fixed them up and sold them to first time buyers, thereby cutting out the middleman (property flippers). Most of these programs are no longer in place, but the biggest and best, Fannie Mae Homepath is still alive. Buying one of their homes is a bit more complicated, but is is fair and transparent and as a first time buyer you get preferential treatment in some cases.