Have you had it with renting? Are you looking to take advantage of the favorable buying atmosphere predicted for 2018? Homeownership is a great way to create stability and build wealth for your future, but buying your very first home can be a bit daunting. You’re dealing not only with a large sum of money, but multiple decisions that can often have far-reaching consequences. There are a lot of emotions and a significant amount of stress involved, yet millions of people manage to buy new homes each year. So how do they do it? First off, finding the right lending partner is key.

As a first-time home buyer, there’s a lot to learn. Developing a relationship with a trusted financial partner can help make this process easy and set you up for success. Making a mistake can be costly, especially if you’re a younger homebuyer. By doing a little research now can put in a position to succeed. You may even be able to find a better home loan through a local credit union like Orion FCU. To help make sure you’re getting the right property for you and your lifestyle, you should keep these things in mind:

Starter home or forever home?

Some people are looking for a property they will live in for a lifetime. Others may be looking for property they can sell at a later date for a profit. Houses will always be considered a major investment no matter what purpose you have in mind, but these two require different kinds of investments, so it’s best to have a plan in mind before you even begin looking around.

If you have a plan to purchase property in order to turn a profit in a year or two, you’ll want to educate yourself on real estate trends and movements. This knowledge will help maximize your earnings and will ensure you’re putting your money in the right place. If you are looking for your forever home, there’s no real need to master all the ins-and-outs of the real estate market. That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook, though! Evaluate your budget and decide how a mortgage payment and other home costs could fit into it, and talk to reputable local real estate agents to get an idea of the real estate climate in general. Learning whether prices are expected to continue falling, or if they are expected to begin climbing again will likely have an impact on if, or when, you might decide to purchase a home.

handing over keys to new homebuyer

Do the math

A surprising number of first-time homebuyers enter the market with only a vague estimate of what they can afford. Some don’t even know what their budget is. Entering the home search unprepared can put your financial stability in danger. Fortunately, there are many resources that can help you crunch the numbers before you take the plunge. Orion has tons of resources and online calculators that can help you determine how home buying can fit into your personal budget.

Getting past the actual numbers, it’s important to remember that while you may technically be able to afford a particular house on paper, there are other expenses to consider other than the mortgage. In some areas, taxes, home insurance, and Home Owners Association fees can almost double your mortgage payment!

To get a look at what insurance will likely cost you, pick a property in the area where you want to live and make a call to an insurance agent for an estimate. You won’t be obligated to buy the policy, and you’ll have a good idea of what you would pay if you did decide to buy the property. For an estimate of what you’ll pay in taxes, you can check your property appraiser’s website. Although exemptions and particulars of local tax law can create discrepancies between what a homeowner is currently paying and what you could expect to pay as the new homeowner, you’ll still have a rough idea on how to budget beyond the purchase price.

Keep in mind that the price tag of the property is not the only thing you’ll be on the line for. While buying a house is a great way to build wealth, unexpected expenses will inevitably arise at some point, including roof repairs, plumbing problems, HVAC issues, and replacing appliances. Create a comprehensive list of potential expenses to help prepare for the unexpected.

new homebuyer walking down the street

Let Orion help you research

Orion wants you to succeed as a first-time homebuyer, and we’ve dedicated an entire section of our online mortgage center to tools that will help you do just that. Our resource center has the answer to just about any mortgage-related question you could think to ask! You’ll be able to learn about:

  • Loan Programs, Rates & Fees – When it comes to financing a home, buyers have multiple loan types to choose from. Which programs are most accessible, have low rates, and friendly terms? How do you find the loan that’s best for you? This section is a great place to start. Orion’s mortgage originator will work personally with you to answer all your questions and make the process easy and efficient.
  • Calculators – There are many financial decisions involved in purchasing a home. These calculators can help you with several estimations, including monthly mortgage payments and how much you’re likely to qualify for.
  • Your Application – Applying for a home loan can be overwhelming and even a little intimidating. You’ll be asked to divulge specific information about your income, assets, and debts. Use this section to learn how that information is used when applying for a mortgage, and what to expect with the application process before you begin it.
  • Your Property – When you buy a home, the property is used as collateral for the loan, which can sometimes be confusing for first-time homebuyers. In this section, we detail what a lender will be looking for and why.
  • Closing & Beyond – Congratulations! Your loan has been approved and a closing date has been set. Now what? In this section, we’ll be able to give you an idea of what to expect at closing and beyond.
  • Glossary – There are a going to be a lot of terms you’re initially unfamiliar with during the mortgage process. We’ve compiled them all into this glossary section in order to help you understand any words, phrases, or concepts you aren’t sure about.

Getting preapproved for a mortgage will strengthen your bargaining power when you begin your house hunting adventure. A local credit union like Orion FCU is an excellent place to start your search! If you’re a first-time buyer in the Mid-South, contact one of our Mortgage Loan Originators or complete our online loan application to get preapproved for a loan today. With a little knowledge, preparation, and a trusted lender like Orion on your side, you’ll be on your way to owning a home before you know it!