Home > Mortgages > The 5 Biggest Questions for First-Time Homebuyers

Comments 0 Comments

It’s only natural for a first-time homebuyer to have questions. For many of us, buying a home is the largest financial decision we make. It’s important to be thoughtful and confident in whatever choices you make. Check out the important questions below to help you prepare for homeownership.

1. Is It Better to Buy or Rent?

The rent vs. buy decision is common among Americans looking to make their next move. Some say that buying is always a better financial choice, but that is not necessarily the case. It really depends on your individual financial situation.

It’s important to ask yourself how long you plan to stay put, how stable your job is, how the monthly costs compare, how the total costs compare, and if you are both financially and emotionally ready. The truth is, there is no clear right or wrong answer. In some cities, and for some people, buying a home makes more sense, but for others, renting may be the better choice.

2. How Much House Can I Afford?

Having a realistic estimate of how much home you can afford will help you gauge your next move much better. You can use online tools to help estimate the total value of a property you can afford, what your mortgage payment and amount are likely to be and what kind of down payment you will be looking at. Your income, credit score, debt ratio and desired location will all play an important part in the calculation. You want to find a home you are happy with without scrambling to live month to month. It’s important to establish your housing budget carefully. (You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand.)

3. Is It Better to Buy an Existing Home or Build?

Most buyers spend a lot of time and energy either searching for or designing the perfect home. It makes sense, because each buyer typically has a wish list that includes specific needs and wants. Buying an existing home will almost always be faster and more convenient, but does involve numerous steps like viewing homes, making offers, home inspections and closing. Plus, you may have to do work on the home to make it fit your needs. Building a home, on the other hand, ensures you can get exactly what you want (so long as you can afford it). This usually comes with a longer timeframe and heftier price tag.

4. How Do I Find a Lender?

It’s important to do your research when it comes to choosing a lender. You want to find the best offer and also a reliable lender. It’s a good idea to research broadly and then narrow your focus once you find a type of lending environment that makes you most comfortable and offers reasonable rates in your area. You can ask at the bank or credit union where you currently have an account and turn to friends and family members for referrals. Applying to multiple lenders at once can increase your chances of approval at the best possible rate without dragging down your credit score.

5. What Happens at Closing?

Closing is the final step before you become a homeowner. It’s a good idea to know what you are in for during this step. This will be when the title of the home is actually transferred from the seller to the buyer.

Knowing the answers to these five questions can help start you off on your homebuying journey. Next, you can try to find the right neighborhood and home for you. Before you know it, you will be an educated homeowner enjoying the property that fits your personal needs and goals.

More on Mortgages & Homebuying:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team