Prepare ahead of time by gathering the proper paperwork and ensuring your financial situation is in order. It could take weeks or even months for this process, especially if you have any credit items that need “fixed”. Here is some helpful information to get you moving in the right direction:
Review your credit report closely. Credit reports can be obtained for free, annually, from the 3 major credit bureaus, but you may have to pay for your actual credit score. The score required could depend on the type of financing and price of the home you want. Most lenders will want to see a score of at least 660. You should start boosting your credit about a year before you want to purchase. Try to avoid obtaining new credit cards at least 3 months before applying. Multiple credit checks can lower your score.
Having a good payment history is also taken into consideration. Banks will want to see that you have made auto loan payments and credit card payments on time. They will also look for bankruptcies and an excessive number of credit lines. Clean up any history of consecutive late payments at least a year before you apply for a mortgage. If you rent, they may request a history from your landlord. Be prepared to show them everything.
Will you have enough money to pay for your home, as well as, all expenses associated with it? Typically no more than 28% of your gross income can be used for any house payments and 42% of your income must be set aside for other expenses. Lenders will also consider the time you have been at your current job. They usually like to see a period of 2 years, unless a job change was made to improve your financial situation. They might make an exception in that case.
The specifics of how much you need to put down could vary based on the type of loan you are considering. Typically, conventional mortgages will require 10-20% down, while an FHA loan may require 3.5% -10%, based on your credit score.
Some areas have higher taxes and homeowner insurance rates. You should plan on setting aside approximately 5% of the purchase price for these costs. This may be a little high, but it’s better to have more than not enough at settlement!
As a first-time home buyer, being prepared is the best first step. As soon as you start to think about buying, contact a lender to discuss each of these items in more detail and determine how they pertain to you!
Happy home buying!