Purchasing your first home represents two important turning points in your life: a major accomplishment and an important responsibility.

A Major Accomplishment

Purchasing a home shows that you have reached a critical stage of independence. You’ve created a livelihood that can afford the new house. It’s something to be excited about; it’s something to celebrate. Ultimately it’s a sign that a son or daughter took the final steps to become a sole provider. Homeowners stake their claim on the world with real land and property.

The Important Responsibility

To downplay the responsibility of this accomplishment would be a mistake. The purchase of a home doesn’t come without cost. Often that cost is 30 years of continuous payments. It represents a commitment to work for the coming three decades to ensure the house is yours.

Tips for the First Home

Once you’re ready to shoulder that responsibility, you’ll want to find the best possible home to meet your needs. Here are a few tips to help you close on an affordable home that’s right for you.

  1. See what you can afford to pay from month to month. Fannie Mae recommends that buyers not spend more than 28% of their gross income on a monthly mortgage payment. Through experience, they’ve seen families suffer when they try to pay a larger percentage on a home. Use our Loan Calculators to calculate what 28% of your income would look like and ask a lender or home loan specialist what loan amounts would be available for your current income.
  2. Save up money for closing costs and a down-payment if it’s necessary. It normally costs money out of pocket to close on a home and for a down-payment. Calculate how much you’ll need to bring to the table for closing and save that up before you look into purchasing a home.  Since there are circumstances under which you wouldn’t have to pay a down-payment on your VA home loan, check into those options with a loan officer. If circumstances push you towards a down payment, be sure to save that up before applying for the loan.
  3. Find options that meet your every need. This includes utility considerations like how many bedrooms and bathrooms you must have to accommodate the family. It also includes financial restrictions like a maximum mortgage limit you may need to take out to stay within the 28% of your income. Also consider the location. Is the neighborhood safe? Do you like the education system for your children? Is it close enough to work or a nearby public transit station? Make sure a home meets your every need; otherwise you will most likely regret your purchase.
  4. Negotiate your offer. Just because the seller is asking for a certain amount, it doesn’t mean you have to pay that amount. Barter the price to a more affordable level.  A real estate agent can help you pick a price range to shoot for.
  5. Finally, have a home inspection done before you purchase the property. If there’s something wrong with the place, you want to know before you close. Have the place inspected. If the results show something is wrong, but you still want the house, submit a request for repair to ensure that particular issue is fixed.

Each of these tips will help you find a home you can afford and be happy with for the coming years. As soon as you find a property you like, negotiate the price, and close on it. Then pat yourself on the back and shoulder your new responsibility with a smile. You are now living a truly American dream.

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