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5 important tips for first-time homebuyers

Planning ahead is a key step toward making a home purchase.

When you decide you're ready to buy, give yourself as much time as you can, so you don't feel pressured throughout the home-buying process. Consider these 5 helpful tips to get you started:

Tip 1: Know your credit score. It's easy to find, and you can check it for free. Review your credit report and credit score with any of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You'll want to know if there are any blemishes on your report that need to be explained, or if there are mistakes that need to be corrected. Having a clean credit report will be a big help when it's time to apply for a mortgage.

Tip 2: Crunch the numbers. What monthly mortgage payment can you comfortably afford? You'll want to be sure you can make your home loan payments now and in the future - including principal, interest, property taxes and homeowners insurance. Make sure to be upfront about your budget with your lender.

Tip 3: Remember you'll also need money to close your mortgage loan. When you buy your home, you'll need to make a down payment. You'll also have to pay loan closing costs, which include charges like loan origination fees, title insurance, and appraisal fees. Learn about our low down payment program.

Tip 4: Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. Before you begin home shopping, be sure to obtain a credit pre-approval from your lender and establish the terms of the loan you can qualify for. A pre-approval could be the deciding factor in buying a new home. Sellers typically won't accept your offer unless it's all cash or you have a lender's letter saying you can get the financing you need. This can be a differentiating factor for the seller when evaluating multiple offers and may increase the likelihood of yours being accepted.

Tip 5: Know your preferences when home shopping. Make a list of what's important to you and your family — location, condition, price, certain amenities. Be realistic and understand that you probably won't find the perfect house with everything you're looking for. So make sure you know what trade-offs you're willing to make and what is non-negotiable.

You don't have to go it alone. Connect with a mortgage specialist, who will help you understand and compare your loan options. You can count on personalized service and one-on-one guidance every step of the way - from application through closing. We're here to help.

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