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First-Time Homebuyer Tips

What you'll learn: Tips when buying a home for the first time


Being a smart homebuyer means knowing a few things before you even start. Backing your enthusiasm with some knowledge will help you save time, stay realistic and avoid some confusion. Use these first-time homebuyer tips to get started. You’ll find other ones along your journey, so keep your eyes, ears and mind open.

  • What affects your credit score? It could possibly be mortgage applications

    When you apply for a mortgage, your credit report is pulled. When your report is pulled many times, there’s a possibility it can negatively impact your credit score. According to the CFPB, multiple mortgage application inquiries within a 45 day window will not negatively impact the borrowers score. Pulling your credit score (for free) and bringing it to creditors for get informal rate quotes eliminates the risk.

  • You don’t NEED to put down 20%

    Although putting down 20% on your mortgage is common, it is not necessary to qualify. At PenFed, your interest rate may defer based on product, but a larger down payment won’t necessarily lead to a lower interest rate. Contact our Loan Team and discover if you qualify for a lower monthly payment.

  • Stick to your budget

    House shopping can be an amazing experience, especially when you find that perfect house, but sticking to a budget is especially important in the early steps of buying a house because going over can add stress to the process and put you in over your head.

  • Look into programs to help make a down payment

    Many cities and states have down payment assistance programs that help to finance a house. Check this list to see if you qualify for one.

  • Make a list of non-negotiables
    1. Do you want a fixer upper or a house ready to move in?
    2. Do you dislike stainless steel appliances, or want all marble countertops?
    3. Do you need a walk-in closet, or an attached en-suite with a whirlpool tub?

      Make a list of things that you absolutely need in your house, such as features, location, size, or house style, and let your realtor know what they are!

  • Shop around (and do your research)!

    Not all creditors charge the same fees. Shop around, ask friends and coworkers, and do some research. It can pay off to find lower fees and even a lower rate.

  • You might not need an appraisal

    We have access to more information and more data than ever before, so expensive appraisals might not be necessary. Contact our Mortgage Services to learn more.

  • Closing on a house quickly could lock in a better interest rate

    By closing quickly, you can lock in a lower interest rate. The longer you wait to secure your loan, the creditor may raise the interest rate or special low rate promotions can expire.

  • Use a realtor who knows the area

    A big part of the home-buying experience is the realtor. Choosing one who knows the neighborhoods well will help you get a complete picture of daily life and even some inside info on any changes coming to the area, such as infrastructure, schools, shopping and healthcare.

  • Ask your realtor about closing costs

    You don’t need to stumble around trying to figure out closing costs on your own. Your realtor is a valuable resource, and asking them about closing costs can clear up confusion and help you figure out how much to set aside when setting a budget for the house itself.

  • Educate yourself!

    The more you know about buying a home, the better your chances are of getting your dream home, even in a competitive market.

  • Determine how expensive a home you can afford

    There are plenty of mortgage calculators out there, so take advantage of them! Knowing how much house you can afford can help you look within your price range, so you don’t fall in love with a house above your budget.

  • Save for the down payment

    If you start saving early, you can afford a larger down payment with less sacrifice, and the more you put down, the easier it can be to make your monthly payments. 100% financing on your mortgage is also an available option.

  • Save for other costs

    Buying a house is expensive. Not only is the actual house expensive, but there are other costs to consider, like closing costs and broker fees. By saving for these costs ahead of time, it takes a little bit of the pressure off when you close on your new home.

  • Pick the right type of neighborhood

    Imagine that youíve found the perfect home ñ it has everything you want, within your price range, close to your work, and it checks all the other wish-list boxes. Then, after youíve fallen in love with this house, you find out it is in an HOA neighborhood, something you definitely donít want. By researching and picking the right type of neighborhood, you can avoid situations like this and focus finding your dream home in the dream neighborhood.

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