4 Tips Every First-Time Homebuyer Should Know

Family enjoying their new home

Buying a home can at first seem like a daunting process, from the initial search to signing the last document at closing, and there’s no doubt that there’s a lot to keep in mind. However, buying a home is most likely the largest purchase you will make and one of the most important. It can also be a lot of fun too, so don’t let the steps get you down. To help demystify the process, we want to share some of our top tips for the would-be homebuyer.

Assemble Your Team 
When buying a home it’s really important to find the right professionals to help make your dream a reality. Spend some time and do your research before committing to a real estate agent. It’s more than personalities (although that’s important too); it’s really about expertise and specialization. Don’t believe anyone who says that they can do it all, because no one can. Instead, ask around and get some recommendations for agents who sell in your desired area. Local neighborhood knowledge is key and can help give you an important advantage.

The other team member to spend some time getting to know is your lender. The right mortgage professional isn’t just there to make sure you sign papers on time, they are key to ensuring the entire process runs smoothly and that you aren’t surprised by any of the financial aspects of buying a home. Before meeting with your lender though, it’s important to understand your budget and what your responsibilities will be. You can start this process by using our Mortgage Calculator to provide an estimation before meeting with a lender.

Understand Your Budget
Once you have a basic understanding of your financials, then it’s time to sit down with a Sandy Spring Bank mortgage professional who can help you navigate all of the financial aspects of buying a new home.

Together, you will examine that draft budget you just put together and talk through a number of items to be considered including:

  • Whether you are able to contribute to a down payment, and if you are aware of down payment assistance programs you might be eligible for.
  • What your obligations are for associated expenditures such as upfront costs, insurance, property taxes and homeowners association fees.
  • Your credit rating and current debt and their impact on the homebuying process.
  • Your long-term financial goals and how they correlate with your homebuying budget. 
  • If you have financial reserves so that you can still manage mortgage payments if your employment status changes. 

Unique Opportunities and Preapproval  
There are a variety of different programs and tax benefits available to first-time homebuyers. Sit down with an experienced lender in order to review your options and determine a mortgage solution that meets your needs.

It’s also important in the early days of planning to buy a new home that you get preapproved. That process helps you understand what you can afford, allows you to shop within that price range and helps you make more timely offers.

Protect your investment
In a competitive housing market, some prospective homebuyers may consider waiving appraisals or inspections to make their offers more attractive. Home appraisals provide an accurate measure of a property's value and help ensure you’re not paying more than a home is actually worth. At Sandy Spring Bank, we require appraisals on every loan application unless the borrower and the property qualify for a waiver, which is rare. Inspections, the examination of the condition and safety of a potential new home, are also a very important part of the home buying process and waiving them can be risky.

Buying your first home is an exciting experience and at first may be intimidating. What’s critical is doing your homework and putting together a team of professionals who are responsive, experienced, and know the area. To learn more about how our experts at Sandy Spring Bank can help make your dream of owning a home a reality, please visit our Mortgages Page.

This publication does not constitute legal, accounting or other professional advice. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither the publisher nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this material.