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Mortgage & Real Estate Tips For First Time Home Buyers

Feb 28, 2008
Are you currently thinking about buying your first house? Real estate is a fantastic investment. Don't let the media hype fool you: low interest rates combined with reduced home prices make this an excellent economic environment for first-time home buyers. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

The first and most important thing to remember is to buy only as much house as you can afford. Just because a lot of young people in your area are buying gigantic homes with acres of property and four car garages doesn't necessarily mean they could afford their mortgages. All you have to do is look at the foreclosures situation to see examples of people who purchased more than they should have.

Adjustable rate mortgages, or ARMs, have been exceedingly popular in the last ten years. When the housing market was on fire a few years ago, banks were giving out loans to practically anyone, regardless of their income or credit.

ARMs made it possible for people to buy enormous homes even though they didn't make a lot of money because they start out with low payments and then balloon as time passes. This is a big contributing factor to the current housing crisis. More and more people who had adjustable rate mortgage loans are defaulting as their homes go into foreclosure. I tell you this not to discourage you from looking at ARMS, but to help you understand the risks. In fact, FHA offers a great ARM that have 1% annual caps and a lifetime cap of 5%. This will beat any conventional ARM offered.

Because the banks are feeling the crunch, credit standards are being raised. If you are uncertain of your credit score, it is wise to check online with a company like Equifax, TransUnion or Experian to find out where you stand before you apply for a home loan. Clear up any financial loose ends and get your score looking the best it can before you start the home loan process. You'll get a better interest rate and have more leverage with lenders. It may even allow you to get 100% financing. Yes, you can still obtain 100% financing and you don't have to be a veteran.

As far as your down payment is concerned, you may want to come up with as much money as you possibly can. Why, you ask? PMI, or principal mortgage insurance, will add to your monthly payment until you've paid for twenty percent of your home. Even if you can't get that much money together, and most first time home buyers simply can't, try your best if you want to avoid PMI. As an added bonus, a nice down payment improves your chances of getting your loan in the first place.The good news is that your PMI might be deductible. You have to have an adjusted gross income of under 100K to deduct it all otherwise it will phase out when it reaches 110K.

You will pay half a percent to one and half percent of your loan value every year until it reaches approximately 75-80% of either the initial loan balance or of the market value. The rules are different for FHA and conventional loans and vary slightly. Generally,lenders won't tell you that you're eligible to get your PMI dropped from your payment. So, be sure to keep tabs on your remaining loan balance and contact your lender to get the PMI dropped. It will save you quite a bit of money in the long run.

Lastly, first-time home buyers will feel much better about purchasing their new home if they learn about the closing process and closing costs. We teach a first time buyer class where we cover this and much more. We recommend you seek out a similar class in your area.

The home buying process can be exhilarating and overwhelming, but the more knowledge first-time home buyers have on their side, the better off they are. Keep on learning and happy home buying! You will love your new home, and it will be one of the best investments you'll ever make.
About the Author
Minnesota Mortgage Broker-Venture Development 952-285-4319
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