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7 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Buying your first home can be overwhelming, making you experience a range of emotions from nervousness to excitement and everything in between.


Preparation is key. Here are some tips to improve your chances of having a good experience:


1.  Know your credit

Your first important step is to monitor your credit. Get familiar with your credit history and make sure all of the information in your credit reports is accurate. You are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian). This will give you enough time to deal with any errors that may be on your report or improve your credit before you buy. Also hold off on big purchases for now as they impact your debt-to-income-ratio. Changes to this number may affect your ability to qualify for the loan amount you require. If you have credit cards with high balances, try to pay them down to show that you’re not using all of your available credit, which sends up a red flag for most lenders. If possible, you should keep your balances at 30% of your total credit limit — or less.


2.  Get preapproved for a mortgage

Homebuying does not begin with home searching – getting a preapproval from a lender before house hunting is important for many reasons, the biggest being that it provides proof of the ability to obtain financing.


3.  Stick to your budget

Determine your budget and the monthly payments you can afford and qualify for early on – and stick to it. Also consider the cost of property taxes and homeowners insurance into your budget.


Use our online mortgage calculator to see what payment you are most comfortable with here.


4.  Time the end of your lease

If you currently rent, try to time your house closing and moving with the end of your lease. As you begin to search for a home, revisit your lease agreement. See when the lease expires and learn about penalties for breaking the lease in case it comes to that (and options that are available in case you need to extend your lease for a month at time).


5.  Hire a local agent & determine your requirements

If you’re interested in owning a home in a specific area, connect with a local real estate agent that is familiar with that area. He or she will have invaluable experience and knowledge about the neighborhood and local matters such as schools and any issues. Carefully consider the kind of home you want, and separate the needs from the wants. This will narrow down your search for a more effective homebuying process.


6. Look for down payment assistance & remember closing costs

Some programs offer no-interest loans or grants as down payment assistance. Contact one of our mortgage lenders here for more information about Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) loans because if you qualify, many offer lower down payment percentages. Also remember that it’s not just the down payment you need to save up for, but also all the added closing costs. Transfer tax, escrow fees and prepaid interest have also caught many first-time homebuyers off guard. Currently, St. Anne’s Credit Union is offering $11,000*** in down payment assistance or to use towards closing costs to those eligible.  Find out more by clicking here.


7.  Inspect the home – before and after

You’re making a huge investment – have it inspected by a reputable home inspector while under contract – and don’t forget to do your final walk-through inspection on the day of closing.


St. Anne’s Credit Union can help you through each step of the loan process, from improving credit scores, providing pre-qualification to closing and beyond. We know the area and understand your needs and the entire process. We will work with you to achieve your home ownership goals.  We are also offering for a limited time a $500 home improvement gift card** when approved for a St. Anne’s Credit Union mortgage!  Click here for more information.


Sources:, Better Homes and Gardens