First Time Home Buyer
First Time Home Buyer
What credit score do I need to buy my first home?
One of the biggest concerns people have when buying their first home is knowing if their credit score is high enough to get approved for the home they want to buy. The answer to this question depends on your lender, your credit profile, and whether you are seeking conventional financing or will be participating in a government loan program like FHA or VA financing. For instance, conventional financing can typically require a credit score of at least 720 for the most favorable rates, while FHA loan programs are sometimes available to borrowers with scores as low as 580. (Generally speaking, the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate.)
Is it true that I should review my credit report?
It is vital you review your credit reports from each of the “big three” credit bureaus before applying for mortgage financing. Annualcreditreport.com should be your first stop. You can get a free copy of your TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian credit reports. Get all 3 and review them to make sure there aren’t inaccuracies like late payments, unpaid collection items, or accounts you don’t know about. If you find inaccuracies, you can file a dispute; unpaid collections must be paid before mortgage approval is possible.
What kind of mortgage should I get?
The kind of mortgage you should get depends on you and your situation. If you have a 20% down payment and a good credit profile, conventional financing is probably your best bet. However, if you have a smaller down payment and meet income and maximum loan requirements, you might find that FHA or VA loan programs might be a better fit for you. (Important caveat: If you get FHA-backed mortgage financing, you might pay for more generous down payment requirements with higher than expected mortgage insurance premiums—these can sometimes add a couple hundred dollars to your monthly mortgage payment. If you’re considering an FHA loan, talk with your Happy Homes real estate agent. We’ll be glad to help you determine the amount of your mortgage insurance premiums.)
Is it possible to buy my first home if I don’t have any money for a down payment?
Yes! The Cullman area is considered “rural” for financing and may qualify you for a 100% loan called a Rural Home Loan or USDA loan. There are certain criteria that must be met, but most first time home buyers do qualify. This is usually the most popular first time home buyer loan option. Ask your Happy Homes Real Estate agent for more information on how to get a 100% loan for your first home!
What is preapproval and how important is it to the buying process
Pre-approval is the process where your lender takes a hard look at your entire financial situation—credit, income, other financial obligations, etc.—and determines exactly how much home you can afford, and more importantly, the maximum amount they will loan to you. Once you’re preapproved, you should receive a preapproval letter, which can help your offer be taken more seriously by sellers when you find the home of your dreams.
How much home can I afford?
The answer to this question depends on your income, other credit obligations, and the type of mortgage program through which you will receive mortgage funding. Talk with your Happy Homes real estate agent. They’ll be glad to help you determine a rough ballpark figure if you aren’t preapproved for a mortgage.
Which lender should I use to finance my home purchase?
You have a lot of options when it comes to obtaining mortgage financing on your first home. We work with a number of excellent local lenders. If you like, we’ll even go with you to meet one of them to get the mortgage application process started. If you don’t want to use a local lender, there are also a number of reputable national lenders you might choose to work with in financing your first time home purchase.
How big should my down payment be?
The amount of your down payment will depend on your income, your credit score, lender requirements, and the kind of mortgage loan you are seeking. Conventional mortgages typically require 20% down payments, while government-backed programs like FHA have more lenient requirements (as little as 2%-3%).
Does it matter if I carry credit card balances?
A general rule of thumb when seeking mortgage approval is to pay off your credit cards and not use them for a few months before applying for a mortgage. This is good advice because credit card balances will reduce the amount of home you can afford. (For future reference, you should never, ever let your credit card usage in a given month rise above 20% of your credit limit because it can have a negative impact on your credit score.)
What do I do if I have questions along the way?
As a first time home buyer, you will probably have questions as you go through the home buying process. Lean on your Happy Homes real estate agent for help! They’re here to make the process of finding, negotiating, and financing the home of your dreams as simple as humanly possible!
Wes Warren at Happy Homes Real Estate is immensely helpful and knowledgeable. He walked us through every step of purchasing our first home. We were new to the Cullman area and he helped find the perfect neighborhood and home for our family. We love Cullman and our beautiful new home.
Justin & Kadi
Buying our first home was a scary thing but Wes at Happy Homes Real Estate made it so easy and carefree. Wes made our experience with buying our first home an awesome one! Thank you so much Happy Homes for everything you have done for us! We will recommend them to everyone.
We were newly engaged and had absolutely no idea what to do to look for a house. Wes was such a blessing for us. He helped us every step of the way and helped us find exactly what we wanted for our first home. Thank you so much Happy Homes for everything!
Thanks to Leslie Hollingsworth and Happy Homes Real Estate for making our first home buying experience a quick and simple process. We set a wish list, budget, and deadline for the purchase; they worked diligently to find suitable properties and even got us in our home sooner than anticipated. If you are looking for a realtor to take the hassle out of finding a home, go see the great agents at Happy Homes Real Estate!
Amanda, Preston, Parker & Abby
My children and I feel so incredibly blessed to have worked with Leslie Hollingsworth and Happy Homes Real Estate. What could have been an overwhelming and intimidating process was instead very smooth and enjoyable. Leslie was very knowledgeable about the ins and outs of home buying and was always readily available when needed. We are very thankful that God allowed us to become homeowners and that He saw fit for us to have Leslie and Happy Homes see us through our home search and purchase.
I had no idea looking for my first home involved so many steps. Thank goodness for my Aunt Karen at Happy Homes Real Estate. She definitely knows her stuff! She helped me through each step from getting me approved for my loan to the closing table keeping me updated every step of the way. I would highly recommend her and Happy Homes for any of your real estate needs! Thank you so much Aunt Karen for all your help!
Jennifer Bolzle at Happy Homes made my first home-buying experience simple and enjoyable. She was always available to answer all my questions, and worked to meet all my requests. I would highly recommend her and Happy Homes to anyone looking for an agent!
Jordan Davis and Dalton Lee
When my fiancé and I decided to start the process of purchasing our first home we were pretty much clueless. It seemed as if every place we looked wasn’t meant to be. We decided the best thing to do was choose a Real Estate Agency. We chose Happy Homes Real Estate. Jennifer Bolzle jumped right in to set us up with a mortgage lender. Jennifer was extremely helpful. My fiancé and I both work in the Birmingham area making it very difficult to be at certain places before they closed. Jennifer answered any questions we had, stayed in contact with us throughout the day, stayed later at the office and worked with us on the weekends making it as simple as possible. Never once did we feel pressured to make a decision. Jennifer made purchasing our first home a memorable experience we will cherish forever. Many thanks to Happy Homes Real Estate.
From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank Jennifer Bolzle at Happy Homes Real Estate for her hard work and guidance through the process of buying our first home. I had never been through the process of buying a home before and she was there every step of the way helping us to remain calm and focused. Jennifer was very gracious and accommodating with her time and knowledge. She worked very diligently to get us all the answers to our questions. I cannot say enough about how awesome and helpful Happy Homes has been through this process. We have enjoyed this experience and would recommend Jennifer and Happy Homes Real Estate for your real estate needs!