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April 30, 2020

Do you feel overwhelmed with the process of home buying? Youre not alone. Homebuyer surveys find that more people today want to buy a home, but challenges such as saving for a down payment and student loans are keeping them sidelined.

We know the vast majority of buyers (92 percent) use online search at some point in their home buying process. Maybe thats how you found us at Down Payment Resource!

But, before you start picking out your dream house online, take a minute to make sure you grasp these 7 key facts about homeownership.

1. Go back to school (for a day).We know you probably just Googled how to buy a home, but did you know there arehomeownership education courses that can really helpyou prepare? Homebuyer counseling is typically required when using a down payment assistance program, but any buyer can benefit. Youll learn about the home buying process, improving your credit, mortgage terms, planning a budget and more. Plus, a new study finds that by simply participating in these in person or online courses, youll reduce your risk of foreclosure by 42 percent.

2. Get an agent.If you arent yet a homebuyer, theres no reason not to have a real estate agent. Your agents commission will come from the home you purchase, not your pocketbook. Everybody wins! Even if you dont think youll need help with lots of showings, a real estate agent will help you navigate contracts between you and the seller and set up important things like the home inspection. As a new buyer, youll benefit from the expert help.

3. Find the right lender.Your mortgage lender will help you secure your home financingand, there are many types of banks and lenders who can help. Unfortunately, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), nearly half of homebuyers dont shop around for a mortgage lender. Like you, your finances and home buying goals are unique. So, it makes sense to shop around and interview your lender for the job. Read our5 essential questions to ask your mortgage lenderto get started.

4. Your credit score matters.The type of loan you get, including interest rates and points paid, is primarily determined by your credit score. The better your credit score, the more affordable loan you can get, often with more options for a low down payment. For low down payment loans, your credit score needs to be a minimum of 640. Review your credit report, make adjustments and get prepared so you can enjoy the lowest interest rate possible and save cash over the life of your loan.

5. You dont need 20 percent down.You may have heard or read that you need 20 percent down. Its not necessarily a bad thing,but thats just not the case. And, if using a low down payment can get you in a home now (instead of 3 years from now), youll enjoy low rates and get out of a rising rent situation. Low down payment options have been around for a long time. In fact, data shows that low down payment loans with sound underwriting (loan is fully documented, income verified) are just as successful as loan with large down payments.

6. Down payment programs offer savings.Did you know the average down payment assistance benefit is more than $8,000? Many homebuyers dont know about homeownership programs that can help them get in a home much more quickly and provide a valuable cash cushion for other home buying expenses. You couldsave on save on your down payment and closing costs, or even get ongoing tax credits. Ask your lender and real estate agent about down payment programs and do some research tofind out what might be availablewhere you want to buy.

7. Dont forget to budget closing costs.Most buyers focus on saving for a down payment, but yourclosing costs can run you another 2 to 5 percent. Its important to factor in those costs so you are prepared for the closing table. Ask your agent about negotiating those costs with the seller. In addition, some homeownership programs can help you cover your closing costs.

Now, youre armed with 7 of the most important things you need to know about becoming a homeowner.

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