Wrap Your Mind Around Financial Preparation

  • Develop a family budget, Saving at least of your income 10% per paycheck.
  • Reduce your debt.
  • Generally speaking, lenders look for your total debt to be no more than 45% of your income. Since this figure includes your mortgage, your installment loans, car loans, etc.
  • Get a handle on expenses. Again, DTI (Debt to income) is very important to the loan approval.
  • Increase your income. Pick up a part-time job or side hustle (2yrs to show).
  • Save for at least a 10% down payment. Even if you are getting assistance, you are required to have a reserve of some money of your own. Plus,2-year you want to consider moving costs as well. Those types of things are not covered by the loan.
  • Create a side savings fund that will help you prepare for the costs associated with moving.
  • Keep your job!!!! Lenders need a 2-year work history in the same employer or same line of work.
  • Establish a good credit history; 680 or Higher is where you want to be. This will make the whole process go much smoother. Most loans and assistance programs have credit requirements. Though lower credit score programs exist, they may cost you more on the back end.
  • Start gathering your paperwork. You will need to provide a lender with Photo IDs, Social Security Numbers, the last pay stubs within a 30-day period, the last 2 years of W2s, and bank statements showing the last 2 months.
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Improving Your Credit

  • Credit scores, along with your overall income and debt, are big factors in determining if you will qualify for a loan & what terms you will be able to qualify for.
  • Check for discrepancies in your credit report. Mistakes happen; have any errors corrected.
  • Pay down credit card bills; if possible, pay them off or pay more than the minimum monthly payment.
  • Transferring debt from one card to another could lower your score as well.
  • Don't charge to the limit; going past your limit will lower your score as well.
  • Don't charge big-ticket items until after your loan has closed. This can throw off your income-to-debt ratio.
  • Do not apply or open any new credit card or charge accounts of any kind; too many credit inquiries will also affect your score.
  • Avoid finance companies. The interest rates are usually higher.
  • Pay your bills on time.
A person writing on paper with a pen.
A pen and paper with a model of a house on top.

10 Important Tips for First-Time Buyers

  • 1. Find a Realtor who is willing to help you through the entire buying process.
  • 2. Talk to a lender, get pre-qualified.
  • 3. When making an offer, make it, so it is appealing to the seller.
  • 4. Be picky but not unrealistic.
  • 5. Think about re-sale.
  • 6. Don't let yourself be "house poor".
  • 7. Decide when you can move.
  • 8. Think long term.
  • 9. Ask questions.
  • 10. Avoid big purchases until after your home purchase is finalized.

Steps to a Successful Home Purchase

  • 1. Choose a qualified real estate professional.
  • 2. Get pre-qualified.
  • 3. Get the required paperwork in order.
  • 4. Begin the mortgage application process.
  • 5. Meet for Home Search Consultation.
  • 6. View selected properties with your realtor.
  • 7. Choose the home.
  • 8. Have your realtor make an offer.
  • 9. Counteroffer - Make the final decision.
  • 10. Submit Contract.
  • 11. Schedule Inspections.
  • 12. Get homeowner's inspection and appraisal.
  • 13. Get final loan approval.
  • 14. Conduct final walkthrough.
  • 15. Confirm closing date and time.
A group of people standing in front of a door.
A man and woman standing in front of a house.

Common Closing Costs for Buyers

  • The lender must disclose good faith estimates of all closing costs.
  • Down Payment.
  • Loan Fees.
  • Appraisal.
  • Credit Report.
  • Mortgage Insurance Premium.
  • Homeowners Insurance 1 yr / Escrow.
  • Property Tax Escrow.
  • Fees to record the Mortgage Deed.
  • Lenders title policy.
  • Survey.
  • Home & Termite Inspections.

Remember most fees can be negotiated with the seller, also, there are fees that the buyer cannot pay with certain loan programs.

Lender Checklist

  • To help facilitate the loan qualifying process, bring the following to the appointment with your lender.
  • Copy of check for earnest money deposit.
  • Copy of executed sales contract.
  • Copy of Social Security card & Picture ID.
  • Residential address for the past 2 years. Landlord's address and phone number.
  • Last 30 days of pay stubs, and any bonus or commission information, if applicable. Name, address, account numbers, and balance of all your bank accounts. Last 3 months' statements of checking, savings, and investment accounts, Name, address, and account numbers with balance and monthly payment of all debt. Address, loan information, and lease agreements of any real estate owned by the applicant.
  • Last 2 years of Tax returns 3 if using down payment assistance.
  • Values of life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and profit-sharing.
  • Certificate of eligibility and/or DD214 for VA loans.
  • Checkbook for appraisal and credit report.
  • If self-employed, 2 years of income tax records with all schedules & Year-To-Date profit and loss.

Home Inspection

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Look for cracks and water seepage.

A blue building with six windows on top of it.


Settlement cracks, stucco pulling away from blocks, cracked & peeling paint.

A blue and green logo with an arrow in the middle.


Condition & adequate rating for climate.

A blue icon of a door and window.


Loose or tight fits, all locks work & no missing screens.

A blue arrow on a green background


Age, condition of flashing, pooling water, buckled shingles, loose gutters, and/or downspouts.

A blue person is standing under an awning.

Ceilings, Walls & Moldings

Water stains, drywall pulling away.

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Condition of wiring, system upgrade, outlets.

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Poor water pressure, corrosion, leaks.

A blue and green logo with two wrenches.

Air Conditioner

Age, condition, proper cooling  temps.

A blue logo of an open garage.


General condition, door, and door opener

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Proper ventilation, water stains, and/or leaks.

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Working condition. Please note that a home inspection is to find structural and material defects. The homeowner is not required to repair cosmetic issues.