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First-Time Buyer Tips

Saturday, March 24, 2012   /   by Justin Hoffmann

First-Time Buyer Tips

Maybe you've been eyeing the real estate market and you think that you're finally ready to purchase your first home...if so, read on to be sure you're in the best position.

The rules have drastically changed in the real estate market. At one time, getting a mortgage seemed to require little more than just simply stating your income on paper. Today, the credit tightening continues. Banks want extra documentation that you can truly afford the home you want to buy.

But don't let that scare you. Your dream of becoming a homeowner is still a viable option. Here are a few tips to help you achieve your dream.

First take a good look at your credit. It's sad, but true, many people have no idea how their credit reports look. They can't remember if they've ever seen their report and they don't know their credit score.

Unfortunately, that puts buyers in a poor position. If there are errors on their credit reports, those must be handled before you try to purchase a home. Sometimes there are marks that truly shouldn't be on your credit. Other times there are knocks against your credit that you may be able to get removed.

Check your credit score at least three to six months before you apply for a mortgage. This will give you time to address any issues.

Start saving now. These days a downpayment for a home doesn't come easy. You may need as much as 20 percent down. However, there are still some loan programs that will allow you to put down much less.

Make sure you are working with an experienced team of real estate professionals. This kind of purchase requires lots of information, education, and knowledge. Having a team of industry professionals to guide you through the first-time home-buying experience will make the process so much easier.

When you're preparing to buy a home, if you haven't already, make a budget and start watching where every dollar goes. It's amazing how few people do this. It's even more amazing to see how much money is wasted. Those extra trips to the coffee shop, the donuts in the morning, the manicures, or shopping sprees, all are areas where you can likely cut back to save for your downpayment.

Picture your home. It might sound silly but you need to envision the home you want to buy. This will help you tremendously once you start your search. Start looking online, in magazines, and around your chosen neighborhoods.

You can even use online tools like Pintrest.com to pin images and videos you see on an online storage board to refer to later. This is a great tool for collecting photos of home decor.

The point here is to make sure you have an idea of what is important to you in a home. Since you've been renting, this might not be crystal clear at first. But as you make your list and explore homes with your agent, you'll begin to see which things are deal breakers and which things are a must-have.

Buying a home is like looking for the right relationship. It can be exciting at first, frustrating at times, and so comforting once you've finally found the right one. Happy house hunting!

By Phoebe Chongchua

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