First-Time Homebuyer Help

Buying a home is a complicated process, especially if you have never gone through it before. First-time homebuyers often have a lot of questions. Several factors need to be understood when buying a home for the first time. Also, there are some government grants and programs available to help people buy their first homes.

  1. Grants and Assistance

    • Several government grants and assistance programs are in place to help first-time homebuyers buy their first homes. The grants and assistance programs vary by state, though some federal options are available as well. Grants are basically gifts from the government that require no payback or interest. Visit your state's grant and assistance Web page to see what grants are available to you (see Resources). The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also offers grants at the federal level; visit the HUD website to learn more and apply for federal grants for first-time homebuyers.

    Credit Tips

    • First-time homebuyers need to have good credit to qualify for a loan. FHA loans that are insured by the government require a credit score of at least 620, while conventional loans typically require a higher score. If your credit is bad, spend some time improving your credit rating before you begin the buying process. Pay down your debts as much as possible, and catch up on any late or missed payments. You can obtain your credit report for free at the Annual Credit Report website (see Resources). This will help you determine which accounts need the most attention.

    Financial Considerations

    • Buying a home is a bigger financial commitment than just making your monthly payments on your mortgage. You also need to save for a down payment, which can be anywhere from 3 to 20 percent or more of the cost of your house, depending on the loan. Also, there are closing costs you must pay when you buy the home, including title insurance and other fees, which can cost thousands of dollars. You might need to pay a monthly homeowner's association (HOA) fee on top of your mortgage, and you should always buy a homeowner's insurance plan to insure your home and belongings. If you can barely afford your projected mortgage payments, these other expenses might push you over the edge financially, so include these when determining your budget for buying a home.

    Inspections

    • A home inspection is another expense you should consider when buying your first home. Home inspections can cost hundreds of dollars, but are a wise investment, as the inspector can find damage or issues with the home that can cost much more down the road. If your inspector determines there are problems with the home, you can negotiate a better price or ask the seller to fix the home. If the home seems like it needs too much repair and maintenance, consider buying a different home.

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  • Photo Credit House for sale image by Heng kong Chen from Fotolia.com

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