Are there any first time homebuyer programs available?
There are a number of programs that are available to first time homebuyers but they are generally available to any buyers. Most of these programs require a low down payment and in many cases less than perfect credit history. A loan officer would be able to explain the benefits of each program so that you can make an informed decision about which loan program best fits your needs.
What credit score do I need to buy a home?
Your credit score is a very important factor in determining not only the mortgage product that you are eligible for but also the interest rate. A higher credit score will give you access to more loan programs. On average, a 740 or higher FICO score is considered excellent but there are plenty of loan programs available down to a credit score of 600 and in some cases lower.
How much money do I need as a down payment?
There are many mortgage products to pick from depending on your eligibility. For instance, USDA and VA loans allow up to 100% financing with no money down but you would need to meet their requirements to use these products. There are many other loan options available including FHA (3.5% down) and conforming (little as 3% down) along with a number of state housing agency products.
Do I need to get a realtor?
It’s always a good idea to work with a professional real estate agent when looking to purchase a home. They will be able to guide you through the process and offer advice on properties that you are looking at. Generally, there is no cost to you to have a real estate agent represent you.
My realtor told me I need to get “pre-qualified” before they will go out with me to shop for a home, how do I get pre-qualified?
Most realtors will want to make sure that you are eligible to buy a home in the price range that you are shopping. In order to get pre-qualified, a lender will require you to verify some information which includes pulling your credit, verifying your income/assets and verifying your employment history. Once the lender reviews this information then they will determine what your max purchase price is.
I recently changed jobs, will this make me ineligible to buy a home?
Not nessicarily. There are a number of factors in determining how this will affect your eligibility. If you go from an hourly wage or salaried position to being self-employed then there can be a number of issues. But if you go from a salaried position to another salaried position within the same field of work then you will most likely meet most loan program requirements.
I found a home that I like but it needs some work, are there any loan programs where I can roll the repair costs into the mortgage?
Yes, there are a number of loan programs that are available that would allow you to do substantial or minor repairs to the home while rolling the cost into the mortgage. These programs generally do not allow you to do the work yourself – you would be required to hire a licensed contractor to do the work.
I had a foreclosure and/or a bankruptcy in the past, am I still eligible to buy a home?
It depends on a number of factors including how long ago these issues happened along with your recent credit history. Each loan program has different requirements with regards to past foreclosures and bankruptcies. A loan officer would be able to assist you in determining your qualifications.
I found another home I’d like to purchase but I haven’t sold my current home yet, what should I do?
You may have a number of options depending on your credit, equity in your current home and your income vs debt obligations. A loan officer would be able to better look at your situation and explain your options in detail.
My co-worker told me that he recently bought a home and the seller paid for all of his closing costs. Can that be done?
Yes, it is common to have the seller give a credit at closing towards a buyer’s closing costs and pre-paid expenses. Depending on the loan product, there can be a cap on the amount of the seller credit but generally there is enough to cover the closings costs and some of the pre-paids (pre-paid interest, taxes and insurance).
What is mortgage insurance and do I have to get it?
Mortgage insurance (also called MI) is insurance that is required in order to use a certain loan product. In general, mortgage insurance is needed for any loan where the borrower has less than a 20% down payment. The mortgage insurance amount varies depending on the borrower’s credit score, the loan amount and the loan program. A loan officer would be able to help you identify which program best fits your needs.
What is homeowners insurance?
Home owners insurance is different than mortgage insurance. Homeowners covers you and the bank if something were to happen to your home such as a fire. You will be required to have homeowners insurance on every loan program in order to protect yourself and the bank’s interest in the property.
Should I get a home inspection on the house that I’m buying?
It most cases it is not required to get a home inspection but the rule of thumb is that it’s a good idea to get one. A home may look like its in great shape but a thorough home inspection will help determine if there are any issues with the home that should be resolved. This will be your opportunity to go back to the seller and request they fix the issues or drop the price of the home. Your realtor will be able to guide you through this process.