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Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

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first-time_homebuyers_keysWith the summer real estate season upon us, many Americans are following the seasonal real estate trend and considering purchasing a home over the next few months. The total mortgage originations market is estimated to be around $1 trillion in 2014. With that in mind, the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) and the nation’s more than 6,500 community banks are on hand to help homebuyers navigate the mortgage process.

“Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase anyone will make, and community bankers are an excellent resource to help guide consumers through the process,” says John Buhrmaster, ICBA chairman and president and CEO of 1st National Bank of Scotia, N.Y. “With new mortgage rules and regulations in place, community bankers are available to help potential homebuyers by providing accurate and well-informed information. Community bankers across the country can help their neighbors in their local community find mortgages that fit their financial needs, budgets and lifestyles.”

ICBA offers the following eight suggestions for prospective first-time homebuyers:

  • Know your monthly income and budget, including how much you spend on rent, utilities, entertainment, clothing, food and transportation.
  • Discuss your finances with your community bank before you begin looking for a home. It is important to stay within your means when purchasing a house.
  • Gather and organize paperwork and documents. Items you should have readily available include paycheck stubs, W2 forms, tax returns and bank and investment statements for the last two years.
  • Check your credit report so you are aware of what your current credit score is before applying for a loan. Credit reporting agencies must give you one free report annually.
  • Maxing out credit cards or falling behind on other loan payments could create issues when applying for a mortgage. Keep tabs on your spending habits before applying for a mortgage, and don’t go on a spending spree afterwards either.
  • Work with your community banker to figure out how much you can borrow and which mortgage product is right for you. Your local community banker can explain available mortgage options- including rate adjustments, fees and other loan features – so you are prepared for the loan closing and not surprised down the road.
  • Learn what current mortgage rates are. Your community banker can help you understand how that translates into monthly mortgage payments.
  • Check with your state, city and county government agencies for special first-time-homebuyer loan or grant programs available to assist with down payment and closing costs.

“Community bankers work with their customers and help give advice on finding mortgages borrowers can afford,” Buhrmaster says. “There are plenty of steps to complete to ensure the home buying process goes smoothly and community bankers are on hand to help with this. They can help customers determine the most affordable mortgage options and are available to provide additional financial guidance if needed.”

For more information, visit www.banklocally.org.

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