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Wheeling, WV | 28 Posts

Buying your first home is a big milestone. Here's how you can make sure it goes without a hitch.

Are you house hunting? What a great adventure! But if you're a first-time buyer, we'd like to dial down your excitement level a little bit and give you a few cautionary tips. Sure, we get that it's a lot of fun to just scroll through images of beautiful homes and imagine yourself living there, but to get from your current address to that new place in Wheeling homes for sale takes a lot more than calling a real estate agent and saying, "I want it!"

In fact, our real estate agents would like to suggest you start out with some workman-like first steps and save Adventures in House Hunting till a little later in the process. Here goes.

  1. Get your finances in order.
    We can't stress this enough. After you find the home you want and are ready to make an offer, you're going to need money for a down payment, closing costs, and other essentials. Start saving now — actually, long before you plan to buy is best. You'll need anywhere from 3 to 20 percent of the cost of the home for a down payment — the more the better, and the smaller your monthly payments will be.

    Also, you need to be working on your credit score so you can qualify for a loan. Your goal should be keeping your credit card utilization score at 30 percent or less. The figure represents the amount of revolving credit you're using, divided by the revolving credit at your disposal. If you have, say, $10,000 in credit available, with a balance of $5000 on your cards, your credit utilization rate is 50 percent. You want it much lower.

  2. You need pre-approval.
    Some homebuyers start the process with mortgage pre-qualification, so they can figure out how much purchasing power they have, even if they aren't ready to ask for a loan. But for those who are ready to take the plunge, loan pre-approval is the next step. The lender will take a look at your finances, with the assumption you'll be getting some kind of loan. At this point, you'll supply the lender with financials, such as your income, your savings (you'll need this for a down payment), your credit score, and credit history. 
    The lender might now calculate front-end DTI, or debt-to-income ratio. This ratio compares the amount of the house payment, including interest, principal, taxes, and insurance to your monthly income. Say your income is $6000, and the house payment is $1200; the housing expense ratio is $1200/$6000, or 20 percent.

  3. Line up a loan officer.
    A loan officer can advise you if your credit needs some repair. If your credit is in good shape, the loan officer can advise which loan programs to pursue, such as the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, or U.S. Department of Agriculture. The loan officer will also advise on making a down payment, closing costs, and reserves.

  4. Find a good real estate agent.
    Don't even think about going it alone, especially if this is your first-time buying experience. A real estate agent should find homes that satisfy your demands. The agent should be knowledgeable about your area and be prepared to help with negotiations and writing offers.

  5. Shopping for a Wheeling home. 
    Tell your real estate agent your priorities regarding price, square footage, condition of home, square footage, how many bedrooms, and whatever else is important to you. Now get going and start shopping!

Need more first-time buyer tips? We're ready to help. Contact us today.