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.

Budget Tips for Planning for Life’s Unexpected Curve Balls

couple-worry-moneyLife doesn’t always go as planned, and many of life’s major events, like getting married, having a baby and buying a home can crowd your savings capability and even throw you into a financial tailspin.

When it comes to making ends meet, retirement is often left out of the savings equation. Eighty-four percent of people say saving for retirement has been undercut by a life event, according to this year’s HSBC Future of Retirement survey of more than 15,000 people. But people react differently when in crunch mode, the survey says, and in some cases, extreme measures are required to cover budget needs. Three tactics improve cash flow in a financial crunch: increase income, decrease expenses or a combination of both.

Time to Downsize?

In reality, you have more control on your spending side, particularly with flexible expenses like travel, entertainment, gifts and food. But if your financial woes seem irreversible, you may have to take a hammer to large expenses like housing.

In fact, 21% of women surveyed say they would downsize, compared to only 14% of men. And 31% of men say they would dip into their retirement savings to cover unexpected expenses.

Though experts concede downsizing may be extremely emotional, it’s more preferable than taking a chunk out of retirement savings. Actually, 29% of respondents say the financial strain of home ownership puts a real crimp in retirement savings.

If you have any questions about the home buying process, feel free to ask us! We know it can be an intimidating process at times, and we’re here for you. To learn more about a 10, 15, or 30 year First Financial Mortgage – click here.*

Rethink Your Lifestyle.

Today’s lifestyle norms may have something to do with one-dimensional thinking. Items once seen as luxuries are now seen as necessities, says Ravi Dhar, director of the Yale Center for Customer Insights.

Plus, what people do with their money has more to do with psychological and emotional issues than it does with crunching the numbers, claims Marcee Yager, a retired certified financial planner. “It’s never just about the money.”

Because non-financial issues often dictate financial decisions and create a domino effect, consumers need to look at both quantitative (intellectual) and qualitative (emotional) issues when making life choices, says Yager. “Without shared thinking, people’s heads start spinning.”

The idea that emotional understanding must be factored into financial decisions has gained very little traction, claims Yager. “Big investment banks don’t tend to make things soft and fuzzy.”

Dhar even questions the effectiveness of some system resources like the many online investment tools available to consumers. Calculators project four, six, or eight million dollar targets for a retirement 30 years into the future. He says the timeframe seems intangible and the goals unattainable.

For consumers looking to navigate their way out or steer clear of the financial weeds, experts offer the following:

Take small steps to wealth. The only way to build up reserves is to do it gradually. Budget a realistic portion of your paycheck to start an emergency fund or return to the basics. “The best thing people raising families can do is go back to the old traditional practice of putting money in an envelope or a cookie jar,” adds Yager.

Be flexible. Think about what’s possible to mitigate a tight financial situation. Baby boomers tend to be fearful of change, particularly of moving to unknown places, says Yager. In fact, new locales both in and outside of U.S. borders can create wonderful opportunities that improve your quality of life.

Keep a minimum three-month reserve for savings. Learn to cut corners, live on less and shop in cheaper places.

Write it down. Take a financial fitness quiz then put your pencil to paper. You need to see the numbers then monitor your day-to-day situation.

First Financial also hosts free credit management and debt reduction seminars throughout the year, so be sure to check our online event calendar or subscribe to receive upcoming seminar alerts on your mobile phone by texting FFSeminar to 69302.**

Turn to professionals. Reviewing your savings situation and retirement potential with a professional financial advisor can help to ensure that all your future requirements are identified.

If you would like to set up a no-cost consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your brokerage, investments, and/or savings goals, contact us at 732.312.1500 or stop in to see us!***

Click here to view the article source, from FoxBusiness.com.

*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. A First Financial Mortgage is subject to credit approval. See Credit Union for details. **Standard text messaging and data rates may apply.***Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC , a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Nondeposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.


What Kind of Home Buyer Are You?

You picked your neighborhood, know your price range and are ready to start shopping for a new home. But before you start your hunt, it’s important to identify what kind of buyer you are to avoid wasting time.3D dollar house

For many home buyers, school district, neighborhood and affordability dominate the decision-making process, but knowing your “buyer personality” will help define and focus your search.

For instance, if you want a move-in-ready home but never convey that to your realtor, you can waste time looking at fixer uppers. Or if you care about the environment, you may want to see only green homes, which could require a more specialized agent.

Personality #1: The Move-in-Ready Buyer

These are the home buyers who want to purchase a house that only requires them to move in their furniture and start decorating.

These buyers are not afraid to look at many properties to find the perfect home that won’t force them to roll up their sleeves for improvements or repairs.

Personality #2: The Minimalist Buyer

Minimalist buyers aren’t afraid to make changes to a home as long as they are minor.  This type of buyer is drawn to homes that are structurally sound, but may need some new paint, updated curb appeal or other minor cosmetic changes.

Personality #3: The Fixer Upper Buyer

This group of buyers can see the potential of almost any home and aren’t afraid to buy a home needing renovations.

Sometimes these buyers are first-time buyers looking for a home to put their stamp on something and other times it’s a savvy buyer looking to make money off a property with a repairs and renovations. Either way, a fixer-upper buyer won’t think twice about remodeling the basement, bathroom or even the entire house.

Personality #4: The Life Timer Buyer

The recession has changed the way people view the home buying process, and many first-time home buyers aren’t looking for the starter home – they are seeking out a home they can stay in for 10, 20 or even 30 years.

These buyers tend to have young children, planning a family or have multiple generations living under one roof. They plan to buy a home and stay in it for the long haul.

Life-time buyers may not be at a certain life cycle when they purchase the home but have the ability to plan for the future and purchase accordingly.

Personality #5: The Eco-Warrior Buyer

For this type of buyer, going green isn’t a fad–it’s a lifestyle. The eco-warrior buyer is always looking for ways to conserve natural resources and wants to buy a home that is energy efficient and uses minimal water and electricity.

An eco-warrior also wants a home that is close to work, entertainment and groceries to reduce his/her carbon footprint. Since eco-warriors have very specific requirements whether its geo thermal heating or solar panels, they should go with a real estate agent that specializes in that area.

Figured out what type of buyer you are and ready to take the next step? Apply for a First Financial Mortgage today!*

You can also subscribe to our Mortgage rate text message service by texting “firstrate” to 866-956-9302, and receive instant notification when our mortgage rates change.**

*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.  Subject to credit approval. See Credit Union for details.

**Standard text messaging and data rates may apply.

Article Source: http://www.foxbusiness.com

ENGLISH insurance labelequal%20housing%20lender%20logo-resized-600

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know When Buying a Home

These ten useful tips are crucial to know when looking to purchase a home.  Be sure to read on before you make the purchase! Man, Woman, My House, Couple, Front Door, Happy, Door, Entrance, 1. Don’t buy if you can’t stay put.

If you can’t commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner – even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it’s an even worse proposition.

2. Start by shoring up your credit.

Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.

3. Aim for a home you can really afford.

The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you’ll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford. Get started today by using some of our financial calculators, which will tell you how much home you can afford.

4. If you can’t put down the usual 20 percent, you may still qualify for a loan.

There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low rate mortgages that require a small down payment.  In fact, First Financial is one of them! Check out our Mortgage resources, and then stop into any branch or give the Loan Department a call at 732.312.1500, Option 4.*

5. Buy in a district with good schools.

In most areas, this advice applies even if you don’t have school-age children. Reason: When it comes time to sell, you’ll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers, thus helping to boost property values.

6. Get professional help.

house for sale sign

Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

7. Choose carefully between points and rate.

When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points — a portion of what you pay at closing — in exchange for a lower rate. If you stay in the house for a long time — say three to five years or more — it’s usually a better deal to take the points. The lower rate will save you more in the long run.

?????????????????????????8. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved will save you the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt, and credit history.

9. Do your homework before bidding.

Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you should make a bid that’s about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

10. Hire a home inspector.

Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But, you should hire your own home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.

If you have any questions about the home buying process, feel free to ask us!  We know it can be an intimidating process at times, and we’re here for you.  To apply for a First Financial Mortgage – click here.*  You might also want to subscribe to our Mortgage rate text message service, by texting “firstrate” to 866-956-9302.  When our Mortgage rates change, you’ll be the first to know**

* 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.  Subject to credit approval. See Credit Union for details.

**Standard text messaging and data rates may apply.

Article Source: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson8/index.htm

ENGLISH insurance labelequal%20housing%20lender%20logo-resized-600