Dreaming of owning your first home?  Tired of shoveling out rent for a home or apartment that doesn't feel like yours?  Take heart, changing from renter to homeowner may be easier than you think.  I'm here to help.

Where do you start?

First of all, learn the financing basics.  Get pre-approved and become a smart shopper.  I would be glad to recommend a local financial lender to help get you pre-approved.

When you buy your first home, making monthly payments  probably won't be a problem.  After all, you're already paying rent to your landlord each month. It's coming up with the lump sum needed for a down-payment that may seem impossible. Fortunately, there are options to make buying your first home a happy reality.

Programs for first-time buyers.   There are several local or federal government programs that help first time buyers get into the housing market.  The most popular program is through Idaho Housing and Finance Association, or IHFA. Ask me about these options.

Your lender.   Your bank or credit union may help as well.  Are you debt free and own something free and clear, like a car?  Your lender may lend you the down-payment by securing it against this asset.

Private contracts.   Look for a seller to help you buy and finance your home. Some sellers are willing to carry the contract themselves and will waive the down payment.  You may only have to pay the monthly mortgage installments.

Need financial solutions?

Credit or tax problems.   Do you have problems with your credit rating or owe money in taxes? Buying your first home is still a possibility. Check with your lending institution about options, such as paying a higher down-payment.

If necessary, contact a financial advisor or tax resolution service.

6 Ways First-Time Buyers Can Prepare

A cooling housing market gives buyers, especially first-time buyers, more opportunities to snatch up a good deal. But just because there are good deals, doesn't always mean buyers are ready to make the leap.

These six tips will help prospective buyers find out if they are ready for homeownership.

  1. Take a first-time home buyer class. It will make repairing a credit score and shopping for a loan less stressful.
  2. Be conservative. Borrowing too much can mean stretching and even sacrificing - to the point that it's hard to even keep a six-pack of [Coke] in the fridge.
  3. Organize documents. First-time buyers should keep a pay stub, W-2, and bank and retirement account statements on hand to expedite the loan application process. 
  4.  Get pre-approved. Before starting the home buying process, consumers should get pre-approved by at least one lender. Being pre-approved won't lock buyers in to a loan but it may save them the heartache of falling in love with a home they really can't afford.
  5. Play house. Every month, prospective buyers should bank the amount that they'd have to pay if they owned a home. It's good practice so they'll be ready for the real thing.
  6. Consider all the costs. It's not just a mortgage payment they have to worry about. Repairs, assessments, and other costs of homeownership can add up quickly.

Source: Star-Tribune, Kara McGuire (02/02/07)

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Six Ways First-Time Home Buyers Can Prepare

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