Rates are creeping higher, but they’re still near record lows. Consider these tips if you’re a potential homebuyer.
Save for a down payment
Although a 20% down payment on a mortgage is ideal, it’s not mandatory. Many lenders expect buyers to put down at least 3%, aside from the Federal Housing Administration, which requires a 3.5% down payment.
Research loan types
A fixed-rate mortgage isn’t right for every homebuyer. Neither is an adjustable-rate mortgage. If you plan to stay put in a home to raise a family, you might consider a 30-year loan. Conversely, if you’re moving in 10 years or less, an adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM, could better suit you. Interest rates on ARMs are fixed for the first several years of the loan and often start out lower than rates on 30-year fixed loans.
Remember to budget
Your monthly mortgage payment won’t be the only expense you have as a homeowner. There’s also homeowners insurance, property taxes, maintenance costs and, more than likely, homeowners association fees, which is why it’s necessary to stick to a budget.
Consult a professional
The home buying process is a challenging one, which is why it helps to have the assistance of qualified professionals. Ask questions of your lender and real estate agent, and reach out to a housing counseling agency approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for further guidance.
Don’t forget the closing costs
The loan estimate you receive after applying for a mortgage gives you an idea of the “cash to close,” or the money you need to complete the transaction.
Beef up your savings account
It’s unwise to drain your savings to fund your down payment or closing costs and leave nothing in the account to cover emergencies. A useful rule of thumb is to stockpile 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses. This deters you from tapping credit cards or loans and amassing more debt.