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10 Things to Know When Buying a House - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Marcie Geffner is an award-winning freelance reporter, writer, editor and blogger whose work has been published by MSNBC, CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, Fox Business, Bankrate.com, AOL Real Estate, ThirdAge.com, Fidelity.com, Inman News and dozens of major U.S. newspapers. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from UCLA and MBA from Pepperdine University. You can follow Marcie on Twitter: @marciegeff.

First-time homebuyers are crucial to healthy housing markets because they enable existing home owners to sell their current home and purchase another one. That means if you’re thinking about buying a home, you’re important — someone who owns a home can’t sell it without you.

With that in mind, here are 10 tips to help you achieve your goal of homeownership.

No. 1: Get prequalified. Sellers typically won’t accept your offer unless it’s all cash or you have a lender’s letter saying you can get the financing you need to close the deal. Consequently, being prequalified for a loan is crucial, says Matt Phipps, a Realtor at Phipps Real Estate in Warwick, R.I.

“You don’t want to lose the house of your dreams because you weren’t prequalified for the mortgage,” Phipps says.

No. 2: Target your territory. Every town has pros and cons, but casting too wide a net can make you crazy, Phipps says. Decide where you want to live and focus on that area.

“Do some drive-bys and make sure you like the setting of the house before seeing the property,” he suggests.

No. 3: Prioritize your preferences. Make a list of what’s important to you and your family, whether it is location, condition, price or certain amenities, and be prepared to make sacrifices.

Read: Graduate from renter to buyer despite student loans

“You’re not going to find the absolutely most perfect house,” Phipps say. “If you get eight of 10 things you’ve prioritized, you’ve done very well.”

No. 4: Know your budget. Rather than guessing how much you can borrow or how much your closing costs will be, discuss specific numbers with a reputable lender or broker.

“Meet with the lender and get an idea of exactly how much you’re preapproved for,” Phipps advises. “You want to have that conversation so you know where you stand.”

No. 5: Be realistic. Shopping for a house that’s more costly than your budget is likely to mean disappointment since most sellers receive multiple offers equal to or higher than their asking price, says Ken Pozek, a Realtor at Keller Williams Realty in Northville, Mich. If you’re preapproved for, say, $270,000, don’t ask to see homes priced higher than that.

No. 6: Act fast. Homes are selling quickly in many areas due to limited inventory. That means you should check out any newly for-sale properties that interest you as soon as possible. If a house is listed Monday, don’t wait until Saturday to see it. Pozek says. It could be sold by then.

No. 7: Don’t play price games. Some first-time homebuyers try to sweeten their offer with a higher price, then recoup the money in seller-paid closing costs, repair credits or other concessions. Pozek says that’s not smart because if the appraisal doesn’t support that higher price, you won’t be able to get your financing.

“It’s hard to say, ‘We’ll give them more than asking, then ask for concessions,'” he explains.

No. 8: Pay closing costs. Asking the seller to pay your closing costs will weaken your offer and lessen your chances of success, says Jan Baron, a Realtor at Realty One Group in Temecula, Calif.

“All the sellers care about is their net. If you ask for 3 percent closing, that’s 3 percent out of the seller’s pocket,” she says.

No. 9: Accept defects. The same logic applies to asking the seller to pay for repairs, unless you’re applying for an FHA or VA loan.

“If it’s an FHA or VA loan, you pretty much don’t have a choice about asking for repairs if something is a safety concern, or if there are missing appliances, they have to have those replaced,” says Baron. “But don’t ask for the moon.”

No. 10: Get educated. Being well-informed about the local housing market can give you an advantage over experienced buyers who are out of touch with the trends.

“First-time buyers are very savvy and sophisticated about what’s going on,” Baron says, “whereas someone who has been around a long time — they think they know it all.”

First-timers normally account for about 40 percent of home purchases, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The bottom line is that purchasing a house today is “challenging,” to use Pozek’s word, for first-timers. But don’t be discouraged. Follow these tips and you’ll have a greater chance of securing the home you want.

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This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Do u have to b CV in the military to get a VA .If not how do I apply? Also if my friend used their VA loan and we lived togather can I pay off the loan.?

    1. Hi Cherie:

      In order to get a VA loan, you have to be active duty, retired or a surviving spouse. You can assume your friend’s loan, but they would lose the eligibility to get a VA loan in the future. I suppose you could continue to make the payments as long as you live there. I would contact the servicer and see how they want you to go about it.

      Kevin Graham

  2. I’m interested in buying a home, and it’s a specific home on the street I’m currently on. I mapped out my budget, and calculated on your mortgage calculator to get a feel for about how much a mortgage can be. I want to apply for a FHA loan, but I want to know if I have a personal loan that I will use for a down payment and closing cost, is that ok? I read it on two other websites that it was, but not on yours. I need to know before pursuing this. Thanks.

    1. Hi Shadea:

      I’m not sure of the answer to that question and I want to be absolutely sure you get the right advice before moving forward. One of our Home Loan Experts wouldn’t be able to give you more guidance in terms of acceptable down payment sources and how this works. I’m going to suggest you get in touch with them by calling (888) 980-6716. We’ll be happy to talk to you. Thanks for reaching out!

      Have a great day,
      Kevin Graham

    1. We generally recommend two years of tax returns, two years of W-2s and two months’ bank statements. Other documentation depends on which type of loan you apply for, but that’s a good start.

  3. I’m interested in buying a mobile home for the frist time. I know nothing about Frist time buyer. I’m a server. And have a decent credit score between 690-715. I’ve been trying to read a lot about loans. Maybe you can send me some info threw email please. Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Ninette:

      Your credit score is one of the factors that makes that determination. Another is the type of property you’re purchasing. The purchase of an investment property or second home requires a larger down payment than if you purchase a primary property.

      Kevin Graham

  4. I foreclosed a home back in 2009 and my credit score is back up to 759 do you think I can get approved for a home loan with about 3% down?

    1. Hi Lee:

      It depends upon what time of year you foreclosed at this point because there’s a seven-year wait required for agency loans. It’s best that you talk to a banker. You can do this by filling out this form or calling 888-728-4702.

      Kevin Graham

  5. My fiance & I are interested in buying a home in PA. We have already been approved for a mortgage through a credit union but cannot come up with the downpayment due to a percentage being too high. Please help.

  6. My fiance & I are interested in purchasing a home in PA. We have already been approved for a mortgage through a credit union but cannot come up with the downpayment due to percentage being too high. We are first-time home buyers. Please help.

    1. Hi Marilyn:

      We do have some low down payment options. I’m going to recommend you talk to one of our mortgage bankers and they can go over your situation. You can get in contact by filling out this form or calling 888-728-4702.

      Thanks for reaching out,
      Kevin Graham

    1. Hey Tiffany:

      There really is no minimum income. It all depends on what the payment would be and your income vs. your bills. Here’s something on debt-to-income ratio that will explain this in more detail. As far as a credit score, the minimum is 580 for FHA and 620 for conventional. I’m going to have one of our Home Loan Experts reach out to you with some more information if you’re ready to get started.

      Kevin Graham

  7. Please send me the step to purchase a home for 1st time home buyers and
    what do your credit score have to be to obtain a mortgage! Thank you!

  8. Hi, please can you send me everything information in folder package ? My address is 241 Oliver St. Newark, NJ 07105 Thanks for your time .This is my first time .

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