Are You Ready to Buy Your First Home? A Guide for the Home Buying Process

The first time home buying process can be confusing. Your new home should be a sanctuary after a full day of work, and is a place to make memories with your family and friends. But the journey to first-time home ownership, even for an attorney, can be intimidating. 

So how do you begin? 

Contact a Lender

Discussing you budget and financing goals with a reputable lender is the key to purchasing the right home. Doing this will properly set your expectations for the rest of the process. You will have the confidence in knowing which homes you can safely afford. Attorney Mortgage is the premier in helping attorneys in obtaining the American dream of owning a home.

Start the Process Early

Home buyers need to start the buying process before they intend to move. It is never too early to get pre-approved or pre-qualified, and find out where you stand. Don’t assume you need a certain amount for a down payment, as there are a broad range of loans based on your needs and qualifications. 

Some other tips for attorneys ready to buy their first home:

  • Connect with Attorney Mortgage as soon as you decide to buy, so you are aware of all the options available for attorneys.
  • Don’t take gift money from parents or loved ones before talking to your lender.
  • Don’t move your money around, close or open bank accounts, or apply for credit cards.
  • Don’t make changes to investments or finances without talking to a lender.
  • Avoid making large purchases, or paying off large purchases. 
  • You will need to account for every dollar once you are in the loan process. Keep records on every transaction, whether you think it is relevant or not.

Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval? 

Attorney Mortgage can help you with pre-qualification or pre-approval, based on your personal needs. But what’s the difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval?

If you are thinking of buying a home and you aren’t sure what you can afford, a pre-qualification may be a good start. A pre-qualification application process requires that you submit some of your financial information so the lender can determine how much home you may be able to manage. 

A pre-approval is more in-depth. A lender will review all of your information, including your income, savings, credit score, etc., and give you an offer of approval. An offer by a lender is usually conditional, with a typical time limit of 90 to 120 days. When housing markets are competitive, it is best to obtain a pre-approval so your offer looks more solid to home sellers. If you are certain of your intent to buy a home and are ready to start the loan process before searching for a home, you should look at pre-approval. 

Be Clear on Financing

Attorney Mortgage helps smooth the road to home ownership. Communication is key, and if the only way to get hold of your lender is through an 800 number, they are probably not a good fit. Attorney Mortgage offers that personal service to you, if you are an attorney or a professional in another industry. We pride ourselves on creating a positive experience for buyers. 

Don’t assume you cannot qualify for a home loan. Attorney Mortgage has loan packages available that require no money down or no mortgage insurance. First-time home buyers may qualify for special programs. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development identifies first-time home buyers. In short, a first-time home buyer includes: 

  • A person who has not owned or had ownership in a principle residence during the three-year period ending on the date of purchase of the property. If a spouse meets the criteria, the spouse is considered a first-time buyer.
  • A person who is a single parent, who has only owned a home with a spouse.
  • A displaced homemaker who has only owned a home with a spouse.
  • A person who has owned a residence that is not permanently fixed to a foundation, or has owned a property that could not be brought into compliance with state, local and model building codes without exceeding the cost of building a new structure.

Source: HUD Archives

Find the Right REALTOR® 

Sandy Smith of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty in Bel Air, Maryland says the best way to start this part of the process is to reach out to people you know who have recently purchased a home of their own. “Talk to your parents – they may have a long-time realtor. Talk to your circle of friends, and if you are moving to a new location, ask your employer for any leads. But it is important to find someone who can really guide you through the home buying process – and not all REALTORS® are created equal.”

Source: Sandy Smith 

Attorney Mortgage will help you find the right agent who can help you find that perfect home. “Home buying in real life is nothing like what you see on home and garden shows,” says Smith.  “I don’t show you three houses, give you time to pick, have you sign the one-page document while we’re having coffee – and get answered and accepted within the hour. You need to understand the process and take it seriously.”

Smith advises attorneys against calling a number on a signpost. Personal referral is still the best way to find the right agent for your circumstances. Attorney Mortgage will help you find the right agent who is willing to go the distance with you, who can ask questions and do research if necessary. “You should lean in to your REALTOR® and have a personal connection,” Smith says. “You want to feel like the person gets you, that they are like-minded, and that they have a skill set that can really serve you.”

Know Your Needs

You should ask yourself a few questions about your requirements for a new home:

  • Are you looking for a home in a particular location or neighborhood? Ask your agent about average home prices in the area, as well as any restrictions or additional costs such as HOA fees.
  • Do you know what kind of home you want? What are your absolute musts – a garage, a minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a place that allows horses? Are you planning to have an office in your home? Make a list of the must-haves and the would-be-nice features.
  • Is the market competitive in your search areas? If so, it is even more important to be pre-approved or pre-qualified before putting in an offer. “The stronger your financing is, the stronger your offer is, and the more likely you will get the house,” says Smith.

It’s Your Choice

Remember, your pre-approval may be for a certain purchase amount, but it doesn’t mean you have to spend that much on a home. For instance, if you are pre-approved for an $800,000 loan, but you are more comfortable looking for a $600,000 home in the ideal location, your pre-approval is still valid. Always consider your budget when looking at homes, and decide for yourself what you truly want to spend. 

Ready to find out more?

If you are a newly degreed attorney, an established attorney looking for a first home, or if you are ready to re-finance your home, Attorney Mortgage can help you navigate the loan process. Contact us or call (816) 860-1686.

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