First Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home can be a fun, but complicated, thing to do.  Here are some questions to think about if you are considering taking this next step:

  • Do you have enough for the down payment?  20% or more is great and will ensure you avoid any extra surcharges like PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance).  A large downpayment also helps an offer to be competitive if the property in question might receive multiple offers.
  • Financing is key, so before you start writing any offers to purchase a home, please review your credit score to see if there is anything you need to do to improve that score so that you can qualify for the very best interest rate possible on a home loan.
  • It’s also important to be realistic about the cost of home ownership.  It’s a lot of responsibility!  But also realize that you still can deduct all that interest you are paying on your loan from your taxes, and that can help you to save a lot on your annual tax bill.

This is a good action checklist to consider:

  1. Get your financial house in orderBefore you decide to buy a home, it’s essential to make sure your credit is in good shape and repair any damage previously done. Know your credit score: 35% of successful buyers recently reported they didn’t know their credit score when they went house shopping, according to a national survey fielded for Having enough money set aside for a down payment is a key component to making sure you are ready to purchase a home. Also, it’s important to not put all of your money in the down payment as other fees or unexpected expenses often arise after closing.Don’t fall in love with a house you can’t buy
  2. Find out how much you can afford. Establish your purchase power upfront, including how much money will be required for a down payment and closing costs, is a must for first-time buyers. Look for special loans available from FHA and government sponsored loans for first-time home buyers that reduce the amount of money required to get into a home.
  3. Learn the lingo.  Since first-time buyers are new to the market and will finance a significant portion of their purchase, it’s important to get familiar with the processes and terminology associated with home buying.   Here are a few key terms to add to your vocabulary:
  • Bait Rate: Misleading mortgages with low rate promises and no contingencies generally for those with extraordinary credit. Rates are based on: credit, debt-to-income and loan-to-value ratios, the size and type of loan, property location, and the day you lock your rate, etc. The loan isn’t locked until the application is accepted. By then, it may be too late to find a better rate from another lender.
  • Basis Point: A term used in the mortgage industry which simply means 1/100th of 1 percent.
  • Closing Costs: The fees required to process and close your loan. They’re a cash obligation running from three to five percent of the purchase price. Motivated sellers might pay a portion of these costs.
  • FHA: Federal Housing Administration, the Federal Government Agency that oversees the US Housing market. FHA Loans are loans insured by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
  • FRM and ARM: A Fixed Rate Mortgage Loan (FRM) is a loan where your interest rate stays the same for the life of the loan. ARMs are Adjustable Rate Mortgages with variable interest rates that fluctuate based on an agreed-upon index.
  • GFE: The Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is a document explaining all costs involved in getting a loan.
  • TIL: The Federal Truth-in-Lending Form is a document that spells out the costs and fees of the loan.
  • Per Diem Interest: Interest you pay per day, from the day you close to the last day of the month.
  • Underwriting and Underwriting Fees: Underwriting is a process the lender performs to qualify a borrower for a loan and the fee is what you pay the lender at closing to cover evaluating the risk involved with loaning you money.
  • Warranty Deed: A legal document guaranteeing the seller has a right to sell a property, which is very important if you are considering a distressed or discounted property.
Find a real estate agent to represent you and go shopping.  Finding a licensed professional that you like, trust, and respect will make the process smoother and easier to understand. Once you find an agent, share your realistic budget and what you’re looking for in a home. Work together with your agent to find the best home for you.

[testimonial author=”Dean Makris”]

I cannot say enough positive things about my home buying experience with Christine. After working with another agent for over a year in the highly competitive North Arlington market, Christine helped me land an amazing home in only our second bidding attempt together. As a first time home buyer, I greatly appreciated Christine’s continual availability to answer questions and discuss concerns (sorry again for my frantic calls late at night!). Christine never added pressure in the bidding process, but always gave me honest feedback. Her strong reputation among her peers and gifted negotiation skills helped steer us to a winning bid among five or six competing offers (some of which had higher escalations). She continued her commitment to providing me excellent service all the way through the closing process. My only regret is not having found her sooner! Thanks again Christine!


[testimonial author=”Adrienne Hancock”]

I cannot say enough about the great customer service that Chris provided to us in our recent and successful search for a home. In challenging circumstances, Chris worked patiently to help us find us a home that met all of our needs. You want Chris on your side in a competitive bid situation as her negotiation skills are exceptional. Buying a home in the Wash DC area is difficult but Chris is absolutely the right agent to work with in navigating your search.


[testimonial author=”Aaron Geralnick”]

Chris is an exceptional broker who I would highly recommend to anyone going through the housing process. Chris helped my wife and I through the process of first time home buying. She was extremely knowledgeable, patient, and willing to go above and beyond to help us. We peppered Chris with a number of questions and she promptly answered and helped steer us in the right direction. When it came time to put in an offer, she knew exactly how to position us to be extremely competitive and win. In a Sellers market, like we were in in 2016, this is extremely important. She made sure we were comfortable every step of the way and kept us with a competitive advantage over the competition.


[testimonial author=”Jenny Agopsowicz”]

Over the last few years, Christine has helped me buy two homes and sell one. She has always proved very knowledgeable, professional, and responsive. When buying a home, she has never pressured me into doing anything, but has always listened as I weighed all the options with her. And when deciding to sell a home, she is always very honest about pricing, which ultimately is what sells a house. She seems to work very well with other realtors and doesn’t play the “games” that some others play. At the end of the day, she will do whatever she can to make her clients happy and work towards a stress-free home buying/selling experience.


[testimonial author=”Ambika Natesh”]

Christine went above and beyond in helping us with our first home purchase. She was patient with our evolving needs and standards and didn’t ever push us into making a decision. She had great local knowledge of the area and could offer a lot of additional tips and thoughts as we considered places, and she was always available on short notice to check out a new listing. She continued to be helpful after the purchase by recommending contractors for painting and flooring, something she was not required to do, but was extremely helpful. Overall, we are very glad to have worked with her!


For more information on becoming a first-time homebuyer, check these resources:
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