Looking to Buy Your First Home? Here’s Where to Start

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. However, don’t let that scare you. While purchasing a home is a big deal that will ultimately help shape your future, it’s also an excellent investment. The value of most homes increases over time and may come along with helpful tax benefits too. As a potential new homeowner, there’s a lot to learn about the home buying process and we’re here to help! Here are some useful tips for first-time home buyers.

Figure out what you can afford

Before you start house hunting, you’ll need to know what your budget is. Our loan officers can help you determine a price range through a pre-qualification process, which involves using financial information to get an estimate of the maximum mortgage you should be able to obtain. As a rule of thumb, we recommend your monthly house payment be about 30% of your total monthly gross income. Our mortgage calculator can also help you determine your monthly payments as you plan out your budget.

Make a wish list for your dream home

Now, this is the fun part! Before creating a home wish list, ask yourself, “Where do I see myself in the next 5 to 10 years or longer?” Having a vision for you and your family will help put the details of your dream home into perspective. With this in mind, you’ll need to figure out the must-haves of your ideal home, including backyard requirements, size of the home, and neighborhood. All of these factors will have an impact on the overall cost of your home and whether or not it fits your budget.

Find the right mortgage

Many lenders offer a variety of home financing options to choose from. The type of mortgage you end up using will affect what you’ll need to qualify for the loan, and how you’ll pay it back. That’s why it’s important to understand your options before making a decision.

Here are the main types of mortgages that are out there:

  • Conventional: This mortgage is a typical home loan contract between the lender and the borrower, at the lender’s risk. The borrower’s property is security, which means the lender can take your home for non-payment of the mortgage. Conventional mortgages are the most common type of mortgage loan (averaging about three quarters of U.S. mortgages).
  • FHA (Federal Housing Administration): The FHA will insure the loan for the lender against loss, in case the buyer cannot make payments. This mortgage requires the buyer to carry mortgage insurance through the FHA.
  • VA (Veterans Administration): These home loans are backed by the federal government and offered by private lenders to qualified members of the armed forces, active military personnel, veterans, or their widows.
  • Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM): The interest on an ARM may vary up or down based on the market. ARMs often offer a lower beginning interest rate. However, this rate will go up over time.
  • Fixed Rate Mortgage: The interest rate on this agreement stays the same for as long as you hold your mortgage, no matter how interest rates change in the financial markets.

When it comes to understanding your financing options, we recommend consulting with one of our mortgage experts to learn more about the mortgage process.

Work with a realtor

The home buying process is already stressful enough, so why not take some of the work off your plate? A realtor can help you save time by pre-selecting homes within your price range and requirements. Not to mention – they’ll be fully immersed in market trends, tax information, and area considerations like school districts. As you get closer to purchasing a home, they will be your go-to for handling negotiations and arranging for a home inspection and appraisal. Once you’re ready to make an offer on a home, they can help with that too.

There are many important steps to the home buying process, even after your offer has been approved. Rest assured knowing a First Financial mortgage expert is here to help you along the way, should you be looking to purchase a home in Monmouth or Ocean Counties, NJ.*

Are you ready to get started? Apply for a mortgage loan today, call our Loan Department at 732.312.1500 Option 4, or visit a First Financial branch. Also be sure to check out our home buyer’s guide to help you through the research and application process.

Happy home buying!

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Subject to credit approval. Credit worthiness determines your APR. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history and are for qualified borrowers. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. Higher rates may apply depending on terms of loan and credit worthiness. Available on primary residence only. The Interest Rates, Annual Percentage Rate (APR), and fees are based on current market rates, are for informational purposes only. Mortgage insurance may be required depending on loan guidelines. This is not a credit decision or a commitment to lend. If mortgage insurance is required, the mortgage insurance premium could increase the APR and the monthly mortgage payment. See Credit Union for details. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a Mortgage and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

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