With interest rates rising along with home prices, there may be no better time to get started financially preparing to buy a home than now. Here are a few financial challenges common to would-be homebuyers for you to be aware of.
Down payment and closing costs.
The down payment on a mortgage is the minimum amount of money that you have to spend out of your pocket in order to purchase a home. The type of mortgage you choose (or qualify for) ultimately determines the minimum down payment amount, or the smallest dollar amount that you have to pay out of pocket (not including closing costs) to purchase a home. For an FHA loan (one of the more common mortgage types), a minimum down payment is 3.5% of the purchase price of the home. For a $300,000 home, that would be $10,500. Closing costs are often around 3% of the purchase price of the home, so, for a $300,000 home, $10,000. For many people numbers like that are out of reach, but there are options to overcome this barrier:
· Down payment assistance programs like Chenoa Fund provided by CBC Mortgage Agency provide you with a loan to cover your down payment and some or all of your closing costs, making it possible to purchase a home without spending any money out of pocket. Reach out to Info@ChenoaFund.org to learn more, or ask your preferred lender if they offer the program, or any other form of down payment assistance.
· Lower-cost home options, like manufactured homes, can come with significantly smaller price tags (and therefore down payment amounts), and still benefit from home value appreciation.
· Alternative assistance programs, like lease-to-buy programs, can help you ease into homeownership without having to initially take out a mortgage in your name. If you are unable to qualify for traditional down payment assistance, reach out to Info@ChenoaFund.org to learn about Trio and Link Loans.
Plan for mortgage payments.
In some parts of the nation rent is more expensive than paying for a mortgage, but in other parts purchasing a mortgage may turn into a higher monthly payment. Make sure to do your research for the area that you live in to see what works best for your budget, and if possible consult a financial advisor. Keep in mind that if you can afford a mortgage with a fixed rate, your monthly principal and interest mortgage payment will stay steady over time (although you may see fluctuations in the total monthly mortgage payment if escrowing for taxes and insurance). Rent prices have the potential to make a monthly mortgage payment a more attractive option even if it costs a little more. If you don’t have the savings to afford a down payment, consult the above.
Factor in additional expenses.
Some renters end up paying for more repairs and fixes around their rented homes than they may expect, but ultimately many repairs are paid for by the landlord. When you become a homeowner, any needed home repairs come out of your pocket, which is a big thing to consider. In addition, if your previous rental agreement had you paying a flat fee for some or all of your utilities (water, electricity, gas, etc.), you’ll now find that these expenses vary based on your usage. And to top it all off, you’ll need to switch from renter’s insurance to homeowner’s insurance, and you may end up needing to pay a monthly Homeowners Association fee. As long as you’re careful these expenses don’t need to break your budget, but it’s not uncommon for them to surprise the unaware homebuyer.
Watch your credit.
A lot of requirements when purchasing a home and applying for assistance scale off of your credit score. In addition, in some instances, you will be able to get a lower interest rate—and therefore a lower monthly mortgage—if you have a high credit score. It’s also worth noting that not having a credit score at all can make it very difficult to qualify for a mortgage. If your credit is poor, or if you don’t have a credit score, it’s a good idea to start searching the internet for tips and tricks on how to improve your credit, manage debt, control credit card use, and so forth.
As a side note, when applying for mortgages, keep in mind that having your credit score pulled can actually lower your credit score. It’s generally a good idea to only allow lenders to “soft pull” your credit score until you are confident that you found the lender you want to stay with.
Qualifying for a mortgage.
Pre-qualifying for a mortgage can go a long way in helping you to purchase a home—for example, when you approach a seller to sign a contract, you can prove that you will actually be able to buy the home because you have a mortgage lender willing to finance you. But first you have to get that pre-qualification, which means your preferred lender will need to review your credit and other financials. To make things as quick and efficient as possible, review all the financial documents and resources you have and keep them easily accessible, such as W-2s and bank statements. Being an easy borrower to work with goes a long way in helping a lender be easy to work with, too.
To learn more about CBC Mortgage Agency and our Chenoa Fund down payment assistance, please visit our website.
CBC Mortgage Agency™ – NMLS 1186381
For licensing information, go to www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org.
Illinois Residential Mortgage License #MB.6761292. Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Banking, 100 West Randolph, 9th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601 – 1-888-473-4858. Georgia Residential Mortgage Licensee, License # 1186381