First Time Home Buyer Tips

Buying your first home is a big investment and can be intimidating or confusing at times. We’re here to listen and guide you through the process. In order to make you feel more confident about your decision, we have provided a list of tips that every future homeowner should consider when beginning the buying process.

Buying Your First Home

Clean up your credit

Your credit score is not the only factor in getting approved for a mortgage, but it is an important part of determining what you will be able to qualify for.

Become familiar with mortgage terminology

Understanding terms prior to meeting with a licensed loan officer can make the homebuying process easier to understand. Explore our Mortgage Glossary to become familiar with loan and mortgage terms.

When budgeting for a mortgage, remember to include all expenses, including:

In addition to ongoing costs, remember to factor in one-time costs during the buying process, including closing costs and your down payment.

Calculate your Debt-to-income ratio (DTI)

Traditionally, lenders will not qualify you for a mortgage unless your DTI is less than 40%. You can change your debt-to-income ratio by either increasing your monthly income, or decreasing the amount of debt you carry each month. Determine if there is any unnecessary credit carrying over each month that you can pay down.

Don’t choose a lender based solely on rate — find someone reputable and trustworthy

When choosing a lender, find a reputable company that offers a wide variety of loan products and will work with you to get the best financing for your situation. To learn about CrossCountry Mortgage, Inc.’s history and leadership in the industry, visit our About Us section.

Once you’re ready to start looking at homes, get pre-approved!

Understand the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval.

Contact us today to discuss pre-approval with a licensed loan officer.

Choose a real estate agent carefully and avoid dual agents

Make sure that you work with a real estate agent you can trust, that has a proven track record, and that has your best interests at heart. It’s useful to get referrals from family and friends who’ve been through the homebuying process. You’ll also want to avoid a dual agent. A dual agent is a real estate agent who represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction. This is often a conflict of interest since it’s possible that the agent will not negotiate in the buyer’s interest in order to increase the commission. If you do use a dual agent, make sure it’s someone you trust completely.

Interview several agents before choosing and ask them the same set of questions

You may consider asking:

Location is key

Consider the crime rate, public school ratings, your daily commute and local amenities when choosing a home. If public parks, libraries, pools, sporting arenas, churches, restaurants or shopping centers are important to you, make sure you consider their proximity to your neighborhood.

Don’t make financial changes during the loan process

All aspects of your income and finances will be considered when applying for a loan. Don’t make any large purchases such as a car, appliances or furniture and don’t move untraceable money into or around your accounts. This includes changing employers during the home loan process. Steady employment will likely be a factor in determining what loan you qualify for.

Get a home inspection

Inspections are important to help you fully understand the condition of a home. They can also be helpful for negotiations to help drive prices down or have additional services stipulated in the contract.

Get all details in writing

During the sales process, a seller may make a variety of verbal guarantees. For example, the seller may promise to fix the roof before move-in or provide all of the kitchen appliances. Make sure this information is included in writing in any agreements you sign. If an agreement is not explicitly written in a contract, the seller is not obligated to abide by it. This also includes all of the details of your loan. Make sure the amount, payments, rate lock, and other details are clearly stated in writing in a signed document.