We have two office locations, one located at 664 Ben Greene Industrial Park in Elizabethtown, NC. Located right beside the Elizabethtown Airport, this office is a short drive past Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery. The other is located at 115 Jefferson Street, Whiteville, NC 28472. Feel free to call us for directional help! You can also plug these addresses into your GPS.
We service multiple areas in North Carolina. However, we do specialize in rural areas like Elizabethtown and Whiteville.
If you think this will be the year to put your rental days in your rear-view mirror and move into a home of your own, it’s time to start planning now. Even if you won’t be ready to buy for six more months or even a year, here are 10 straightforward steps to take today. Crossing these items off your list will make it easier for you to find and finance the home of your dreams.
1. Check your credit
A good credit score is essential to buying a home, since it proves you’ve got a good track record paying off past debts (such as your credit card bills and college loans). A higher credit score makes it easier to qualify for the lowest interest rates, which in turn make your purchase more affordable.
To find your credit report, go to annualcreditreport.com and request a free copy from all three credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. For a small fee, you can also get your credit score. These reports should also indicate what you can do to improve your credit.
2. Start saving
You’ll need cash reserves to buy a home, and you’ll need to prove to a lender that you can afford housing payments that may be higher than what you’re currently paying in rent. In other words, start saving now!
3. Earn extra cash
If you’re low on cash, as most first-time buyers are, consider taking drastic steps to cut spending. Or try out some ways to increase your income, such as selling some of your stuff or taking a part-time job.
4. Consult a lender
The sooner you visit a lender, the faster you’ll know where you stand on getting a mortgage, and the steps you need to take to improve your situation.
5. Investigate down payment assistance programs
It pays to explore down payment assistance programs—you don’t have to be destitute to qualify.
6. Decide how much you want to spend
A lender can give you an idea of how much house you can afford, but you have to create a personal budget to decide how much you will be comfortable spending on your mortgage payment.
7. Attend a seminar or take classes on buying a home
Want to learn more? Lenders and agents often offer free seminars that explain the home-buying process. Many local government and nonprofit agencies also offer classes that can help you prepare for the financial responsibility of owning a home.
8. Start looking at neighborhoods
Unless you already know where you want to live, take the time to visit a variety of potential neighborhoods. You’ll want to scout out ‘hoods that meet your needs in terms of transportation options and other amenities. Exploring different locations will help you narrow your priorities.
9. Visit open houses
Going to open houses early in your search will let you see what’s available in your area that might fit your budget. You can then begin to see what matters most in your decision: the location, room to entertain or outdoor space.
10. Interview real estate agents
These 10 Steps and more information can be found at Realtor.com!
- Tax breaks
- Financial gains
- Appreciation in value
- Capital gains
- A sense of pride
- Do I have a steady job?
- Have I been steadily employed for the last two to three years?
- Is my current income reliable for the foreseeable future?
- Do I have a positive bill-paying history?
- Do I have few outstanding long-term debts, like car payments?
- Have I saved for a down payment?
- Can I afford to pay a mortgage, taxes, utilities, and insurance?
A credit score numerically summarizes an individual’s credit history and gives a snapshot of their financial standing to a lender. Mortgage lenders use the score to decide who receives loans and at what interest rate. The higher the score means the better the chance of getting a loan with an attractive interest rate.
Saving for the down payment is the greatest obstacle for first-time homebuyers. Lenders expect between 5% to 20% for a down payment. It varies according to the lender’s requirements, and the type and length of the loan. Make a budget, set a goal, and stick with the plan. Saving and sacrificing is how most people come up with their first down payment.
- Typical deductions are mortgage interest and real estate taxes.
- In most cases, loan discount points and origination fees are deductible.
- Read Publication 530 titled Tax Information for Homeowners found on the IRS website.
- There are capital gains benefits, but don’t worry about that until you buy your first home.
Pre-qualification: Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage gives first-time homebuyers an indication of how much they “might” qualify to borrow. This mortgage amount is not guaranteed because no information has yet been verified. A letter from the lender may only state that you are “likely” to be approved for a mortgage.
Pre-approved: Better yet is getting pre-approved for a mortgage, which is based on a real credit score, and it also puts real estate agents and home sellers at ease. The buyer has more to offer when making a deal and in a competitive market this can be a definite plus.
It is time consuming to learn about the various rates and terms of mortgages. Once you find your dream home, there is not always adequate enough time to do your research. So do your homework prior to searching.