Homeownership is the cornerstone of strong communities. Reaching it is a pinnacle moment for people where their hard work and effort materializes in the perfect home for them and their families. While it is an exciting and emotional process, there is a lot to keep track of and a lot of things to get done. Like anything in life, your first time buying a house is a learning process. There will be things you didn’t expect and you learn and grow from it. If you’re embarking on your own journey towards buying your first home, keep these tips in mind to try to be proactive and ahead of the curve.

1. Start saving for the down payment early– The down payment is the first major hurdle you will have to clear on your path towards homeownership. How much you put down can vary depending on a number of variables, but regardless of how much you pay for most people it is a significant sum of money to put together. If you know that your plans in the near future include purchasing a home, make sure you start early and save aggressively to have enough for the down payment.

2. Don’t forget about the closing costs– Many people make the mistake of only saving up enough for the down payment for the mortgage. In most cases, at the time of purchase there will also be rather significant closing costs, originating from things such as application fees, appraisals and home inspections. When you’re figuring out your budget for how much you can afford and how much your initial investment will be, be sure to make room in your budget for the closing costs.

3. Research your options– There are a lot of mortgage products available and no one is right for all buyers. From fixed and adjustable rate mortgages with varying durations, there is a lot to review. Each option has advantages that may be beneficial to you depending on your situation and the market conditions. Although the most common mortgage that pops into people’s minds when thinking about mortgages is the 30 year fixed, you should speak with your lender about options that may be more appropriate for your circumstances.

4. Get the pre-approval before viewing homes– While it is only natural that you will start searching for homes online once you’ve decided to make the move, it is generally best to wait to set up actual viewings until after you have spoken with your lender. Sitting down with a lending specialist and going over your finances, your goals and the options available will help both of you get a better picture of exactly what you can afford. Selling agents and their clients also view this favorably as the pre-approval is assurance that you have the money to buy the home and should be taken as a serious buyer.

5. Work with a trusted buyer’s agent– The real estate market is fast moving and full of opportunities for those who know how to look. Your buyer’s agent is your representation in the purchase process and will guide you along the journey. You should do your research to make sure they are well reviewed and will be working in your best interest as this is one of, if not the biggest investments you will ever make and it is the place you will be living. They also have the benefit of working full time in real estate, so they may become aware of great opportunities that you might not have found on your own.

Owning a home is one of the most rewarding, fulfilling experiences we have in life. Finding your dream home or turning a diamond in the rough into your dream home is exciting business. When you are ready to embark on your journey, be sure to speak with a lending specialist from Mechanics Cooperative Bank for all your lending needs! Our  Mortgage Specialists are experts in their field and have been helping put people into homes for decades. Speak with one today and good luck!