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The Top 10: Tips for first-time home buyers

Remember learning how to ride a bicycle when you were a little kid? It may have seemed daunting and wobbly at first. But soon, you found your confidence. The same thing applies to buying a new home. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you might be feeling overwhelmed. That’s normal. Instead of thinking about all that’s ahead of you, apply the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy to your new home buying journey. Follow us. We’ll show you the way.

1. GET TO KNOW THE “M” WORD

Quite simply, a mortgage is a loan. It’s a legal transaction to buy or refinance a home. They’re not as complicated as you might think. Whether it’s a conventional mortgage, VA loan, or FHA loan, many mortgage lenders are happy to work with first-time homebuyers. The down payment amount and eligibility factors vary.

2. CRUNCH THE NUMBERS

As one of the most significant financial purchases of your entire life, buying a home requires planning. Use an online down payment calculator and home affordability calculator. They are easily found online. This will help determine what’s affordable based upon your income, credit rating, and city preference.

3. FEED THE PIGGY BANK

Even if you’re not going to buy a new home a few years, or five years from now, start saving. You’ll need that money for a down payment, closing costs, and moving expenses. It’s time to create a realistic budget and stick to it. Establish reminders to keep the big picture top of mind to keep you focused.

4. GOOD CREDIT SCORES OPEN MORE DOORS

Credit scores have tremendous sway with mortgage lenders. Start with the existing facts. Check with the big 3 credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and precisely determine where you stand. Carefully review each report. There might be errors which you need to dispute and have corrected. Your credit could use some work; contact your lenders immediately and figure out a payment plan. Another easy tip that makes a huge difference is to pay your bills on time. Electronic bill pay should make that easier. Be sure to track your credit scores from now on to ensure accuracy.

5. MAKE YOUR PLASTIC FANTASTIC

Keep your credit card balances as low as you can and, if possible, pay them off ultimately each month. A good guideline is to keep your balances below 30% of your credit limit. If you no longer use a credit card, be sure to keep the account open. Both help to establish and maintain attractive credit.

6. CITIES & COUNTIES LOVE FIRST-TIME BUYERS

Did you know that there are some significant incentives that cities and counties offer first-time homebuyers?! There are! You’ll be in a unique position to get down payment assistance, a lower interest rate mortgage, and specific tax credits. A little research will go a long way to achieving your new home dream.

7. COMPARE APPLES TO APPLES

Much like buying a car or any other consumer product, you will want to shop around to get mortgage estimates from multiple lenders. This allows you to compare the same mortgage type and terms with numerous lenders to compare apples to apples.

8. SHOW YOU’RE SERIOUS WITH PRE-APPROVAL

Getting a mortgage pre-approval letter from your lender is powerful stuff. Knowing how much home you can afford is a definite advantage. It will save you a lot of time and energy by eliminating homes outside of your price range. Plus, it’s a serious negotiating tool to help you close and move into your home faster and easier.

9. WHAT IS YOUR HOME PERSONALITY

Look at your lifestyle now and what will make sense a few years down the road. What will your life look like then? Will you be starting a new family or adding on to your existing family? Do you plan on being the king of backyard BBQs? Do you want to start your own garden? Do you want a floorplan with enough space for a home office or home gym? Now is the time to consider all your must-haves and make wish list. This will help determine what kind of home and neighborhood will complement your life, work, and play.

10. SWEAT EQUITY OR MOVE-IN READY

The fixer-upper tv shows are fun and popular. They do some amazing transformations. Sure, the asking prices may seem low for older homes. It’s very tempting. But are you ready for the sweat equity and growing expenses you’ll entail? Perhaps a new, move-in ready home is more your style. You’ll get the best of new construction, contemporary floorplan designs created for how people live today, and sophisticated features, finishes, and features.

BONUS TIP: OPEN HOUSES ARE VIRTUALLY EASIER THAN EVER BEFORE

Even in the new normal, it’s still possible to view a new home before buying it. Open Houses have gone high tech. 3D virtual tours, private video conferencing, facetime, and private appointments let you conveniently and safely get a sense of the homes on your list.

At Brandywine Homes, we’ll work together with you to navigate everything in the process so it’s smoother and more comfortable. Our extraordinary team, refined processes, safety protocols, and superb service has made us the preeminent local, family-owned homebuilder in Southern California. With Brandywine Homes, you’ll enjoy a first-time homebuyer experience that’s second to none.

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