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If you're a first-time buyer, it's easy to fall into some traps. Here's how you can achieve a smooth buying experience.

It's fun to dream about the kind of home you want to buy someday. Who doesn't like trawling through the real estate listings, making notes about those that match your idea of the ideal home, and wondering, could we afford this? That's fine as long as you're just entertaining yourself, but once you're serious about home ownership, this is not the first step to take. If you're really ready to take the plunge, put the shopping among Beavercreek homes for sale on hold and head over to your mortgage lender.

No one will take you seriously when you make an offer unless you have cash in hand or a mortgage preapproval. Sellers won't take a chance on someone who may not be able to get a mortgage, particularly in this market when they likely have lots of offers to consider.

As our REALTORS® point out, we're experiencing a rising-rate market, so it's wise to lock in an interest rate to have a good sense of what your budget will be. You don't want a higher-than-expected mortgage rate when you make an offer.

Here's the deal: You're bound to fall in love with certain homes, but if you haven't consulted a lender, you might not be able to afford them.

Following are some more tips that can help you navigate the buying landscape, so you don't make an expensive mistake.

  1. Get in good financial shape first.
    Maybe this is the last thing you want to hear, but launching into home buying when you're already in debt is foolish. Pay down your debts. And above all, start saving. You will need a sizable down payment — at least 20 percent is recommended. It may take you two to four years to save this much, but you'll have a smaller loan and lower monthly payments. Some first-time homeowners save up as little as 10 percent down payment, or even less — but just know, your payments will be more.

  2. Avoid buying more house than you can afford.
    What can happen if you buy more house than you can afford? The worst and most obvious thing is that you will be more at risk of foreclosure if you fall behind. You will have emergencies, such as medical bills, auto repairs, and home fix-its — so just plan on it. A too-high mortgage also means you might not be able to pay into your retirement account, or savings for that vacation you missed the last two years, or eventually, your children's education funds.

    The upshot: Always think in terms of what you can afford, rather than seizing the maximum loan you qualify for.

  3. Get more than one quote for a loan.
    Don't settle for the first quote you get. Compare offers, as mortgage interest rates vary from lender to lender. So do certain fees, including closing costs and discount points.

  4. Don't fail to check your credit report.
    Check your credit report with one of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®, making sure there are no errors, or you could be stuck with a too-high interest rate.

  5. Don't miss opportunities for first-time buyers.
    First-time home buyers are eligible to apply for government-insured loans from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Be sure to check out these government-insured loan programs, as they can make it possible for some prospective buyers to buy a home with a low or no down payment.

Our knowledgeable, experienced real estate staff can give you sound advice on beginning the journey toward home buying. Contact Wright-Patt Realty today.

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