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A First-Time Buyer’s Guide To Buying A Home

When buying a home for the first time, there are many factors to consider - which can make the process incredibly daunting. With interest rates, lender’s fees, inspections, and credit background checks needed before completing a property purchase, there is plenty of work to be done before you can move into your first home!

If you're struggling to understand the process and don't know where to start, then let the experienced attorneys at Meimaris Law guide you through this exciting time in your life. 

We've put together this useful first-time buyer's guide to buying a home, and with it, you'll be able to understand the essential steps of purchasing your first property.

Take a look at our tips for buying a home as a first-time buyer. 

How to take full advantage of being a first-time buyer

If you have never owned a property before or haven't owned a property in the last three years, then you can reap the benefits of being a first-time buyer. 

There are two significant benefits to being a first-time buyer, and they are:

  1. Potential financial incentives with lenders 
  2. Relaxed loan qualification requirements

For example, as a first-time buyer, you might be able to make a lower down payment on the property of your dreams, or you could get approved with a lower credit score. 

A mortgage loan for a first-time buyer has easier qualification requirements. 

Make sure you’re financially ready to buy a home

Before you start navigating the complex path towards securing your very own home, you should first make sure you're in a financial position to buy a home. 

Here are four things to ask yourself before starting your journey towards owning a property. 

Do you have finances available?

Have you been saving to pay the deposit on a new home? If you don't have the finances in place to deliver your down payment, then you might struggle to get the loan you're looking for. Showing the ability to save and maintain a large quantity of money is essential when applying for your loan. 

Having your finances in order displays that you're responsible with your money and are a reliable candidate for a mortgage. 

Can you get a mortgage?

OK, so you've been saving for months and months, but do you tick all the boxes that lenders are looking for when it comes to approving mortgages?

Here are a few factors that can prevent you from getting a mortgage approved:

  • Not having enough money saved for your deposit
  • Not working full-time
  • Applying alone without a partner
  • Failing affordability checks (high debt to income ratio)
  • Being self-employed without sufficient proof of income
  • Unpaid loans 
  • A bad credit score

Is your credit score good?

Having a bad credit score is one of the main issues that first-time buyers run into when trying to purchase their first home. 

If your credit isn't good, then lenders will not lend you money, and you will struggle to get your hands on a mortgage. 

What is a bad credit score?

Here's a table to help you figure out if your credit score is good or bad. 

300 - 499Very Poor
500 - 600Poor
601 - 660Fair
661 - 780Good
781 - 850Excellent

Don't worry, having a bad credit score isn't a definite no to a mortgage, but it will make buying a home a more complicated venture than it has to be. 

Are you staying long-term where you're buying a house?

Before you commit to buying your first home, you should consider the location. Sit down with your family or your partner and discuss if this is the place you want to live. 

Of course, you can sell your home later on, but if you are only considering living in the house for a couple of years, then it might be best to consider a more permanent location. 

So, before you start applying for a mortgage, consider where you would like to live long-term and weigh all your options before choosing to commit to a location. 

Learn how to navigate the house buying process

1. Find the right lender 

Once you have your deposit and have calculated the various costs involved, it's time to find the right lender for your mortgage. 

Finding the right lender is like finding the right car or the perfect sofa: you shop around. 

Don't just go with the first lender you see. Do your research and ask friends, family, and colleagues for their recommendations. If they've already been through the mortgage process, they might know who you can go to for reasonable rates and who to avoid at all costs. 

When searching for the right lender, make sure you know how much you want to borrow for your home and the various expenses you will have. The lender will want to check if you can afford the repayments on the amount you're looking for, so they'll need to know how much you want. 

What paperwork do you need to give your mortgage lender?

Some of the paperwork you should have when applying for a mortgage include:

  • ID 
  • Last three months’ payslips
  • Six months' bank account statements
  • Statements from all investment and retirement accounts
  • Tax returns, W-2’s and 1099’s for the past two years

2. Get pre-approved

As soon as you've submitted all the necessary documentation to the lender, you'll be able to start your journey towards getting pre-approval for a mortgage. 

When your qualification details are analyzed and the bank or mortgage company is happy with your financial situation, you'll be pre-approved for your mortgage. This means you're now free to start looking at properties to buy. 

3. Find a reliable real-estate agent

Finding a trustworthy and reliable real estate agent is key to finding the perfect home for you and your family. 

When choosing your real estate agent, be sure to check their testimonials, read reviews, and talk to anybody you know who's worked with them before. This will give you some insight into what they're like to work with and if you can truly rely on what they're saying. 

Here are a few things you should look for in a real estate agent:

  • Make sure they're an experienced agent 
  • Check if they have the proper certifications 
  • Ask about their knowledge of the local area 
  • Are they available when you need them, or will they be caught up with other clients?

You want to get your hands on an agent that will be able to advise you on making offers on homes properly. You don't want to end up paying more money than you have to, so make sure you're working with an experienced and reliable real estate agent. 

4. Make sure you have an experienced attorney 

It's always a good idea to get legal advice from your attorney before you've found the perfect property. 

Your attorney will guide you to present an effective Offer to Purchase bearing your interests in mind. In situations where there are multiple offers for a house, you want yours to stand out and be accepted by the seller. 

Your attorney will handle all the legal aspects of the purchase, including:

  • Guiding you to present an effective Offer to Purchase
  • Helping you avoid unclear terms
  • Negotiating and preparing the purchase and sale agreement
  • Conducting a title exam to verify clear title with no liens or other issues
  • Handling the closing of your purchase 

Did you know that it is required by law here in Massachusetts to have a real estate lawyer present during the closing of a real estate transaction? 

Want to learn more about how an experienced real estate attorney at Meimaris Law can help you with buying or selling property? Take a look at our blog post about why you need an attorney to buy a house. 

5. Start your search and close the deal

Now that you've secured your mortgage, found a real estate agent, and located an experienced attorney, it's time to finally start the property hunt for your perfect home. 

When looking for the home of your dreams, try to consider the essential features you want in your home. 

Are you looking for a big yard or maybe you need a house with four bedrooms? Whatever you're looking for, note it down so your estate agent can help find the right home for you. 

As soon as you've found the property you want, take the time to view it a couple of times before deciding. Remember, you don't need to fall in love with the first property you take a look at. You can view as many houses as you like and as many times as you want to. 

Buying your first home is a huge step and you should make sure that the house you're buying is the perfect one for you. So, take all the time you need when making your decision. 

What to consider when viewing a property

Here are a few things you should consider when viewing a property. 

  • Does the house get a lot of natural light? 
  • Which direction is it facing?
  • Is it energy efficient?
  • What's the water pressure like?
  • How many bathrooms are there?
  • How many bedrooms are there?
  • Is there a garden? Does anything overlook it?
  • What's the neighborhood like?
  • Is there a lot of noise outside?
  • What does the structural integrity of the house look like?
  • Is there any mold, dampness, or rot?
  • Is there a driveway?

When viewing your next property, think about these things to make sure you're getting everything you want. 

Then, all you have to do is choose the property you want to live in and close. Remember, it's a legal requirement in Massachusetts to have a lawyer present for the sale's closing. 

If you're looking for expert help during the purchase of your first home, then Meimaris Law can help. 

With over 25 years of experience dealing in real estate law, we can make the buying or selling process less stressful for you and guide you from start to finish. We represent buyers, sellers, and lenders of residential and commercial properties.

Get in touch today for a free consultation with our team and talk about how we can help you with your real estate legal needs. 

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