The housing market is fraught with danger these days. Foreclosures are at a record high. Many people entered into the first time home buyer market a few years ago, with hopes of attaining the American dream, only to have their hopes dashed when those higher interest rates translated into mortgage payments they could not pay.
Unscrupulous lenders approved loans to families that didn’t foresee the mortgage ballooning to an untenable amount. Lenders quickly sold the mortgage and the new homeowner was left to deal with the fine print and an income which would not meet the obligation. Today, home prices have fallen by as much as 20%. Here are five solid tips for first time home buyers in today’s market.
The number one tip for first time home buyers is to be sure your income is secure. This is challenging indeed. Virtually none of us can be sure that the job we have today will be there tomorrow. If you’re buying a first home, make sure your down payment is significant and your mortgage payment can be met for the foreseeable future. Don’t buy into an agreement that allows for a higher payment requirement than you can afford within the next three years. Time flies.
Next on the list of tips for first time home buyers is the type of loan you accept. If you’re a vet, go for a VA, federally insured loan. VA loans are guaranteed. VA loans require that the home you’re purchasing meets a higher standard of construction. Should you become unable to pay the mortgage, the VA guarantees that the mortgage will be paid by the government.
Among the list of tips for first time home buyers: gather all of the insurance policy guarantees applicable to your situation. Read the fine print. Remember what happened to the victims of Katrina. Many of these homeowners are now homeless. Protect yourself with ironclad insurance.
Perhaps the most important tip for first time home buyers is to have a savings account which will cover those situations in which you may be called upon to cough up some cash unexpectedly. In the excitement of owning your first home, it’s easy to discount the possibility of a natural disaster, a medical emergency or any number of unexpected repairs. Any of these eventualities can spell disaster in meeting your mortgage.
Last, but not least in our list of tips for first time home buyers: You are setting a precedent for your future credit. Buy your home when the price is right. Don’t be tempted by a real estate agent’s word that prices have hit rock bottom. You may find that the housing market has not bottomed out, and your mortgage may be overpriced. You’ll still be responsible for the monthly payment and end up selling your first home at a loss. Buy smart. Wait for the time that’s right for your income.