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Are You A First Time Home Buyer? Here’s What You Need To Know

If you’re a first-time home buyer and looking to get a mortgage and explore your options for a home in your market, there are a few things you may want to know before getting started.

1. Your Finances Need To Be In Order (Before Exploring Mortgage Options)

First, you need to make sure your finances are in order. Make a household budget, and make sure you understand how much you can pay each month for a mortgage payment. Making a list of all of your assets and debts will help you determine what your budget should be.

You should also make sure that you know your FICO score. Sites such as allow you to get your free annual credit report.

Once your finances are in order, you can talk to a lender like CSMC Mortgage to get “pre-qualified,” and find out how much money you will be able to borrow based on your income, debt, and assets. This will help you shop for a home that’s within your price range.

2. The Loan Amount You Qualify For May Be Higher Than What You Should Borrow

Just because you qualify for a $400,000 loan doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy a $400,000 house. In most cases, mortgage lenders will let you borrow up to a 43% debt-to-income ratio (DTI).

That means all of your debt payments plus your mortgage can be up to 43% of your total gross income. However, the rule of thumb is to keep your total housing costs below 30% of your total gross income, so bear this in mind when you’re determining how much you can spend on housing.

3. Figure Out Your Down Payment

It’s true that you can get a loan without a 20% down payment. But, this may mean you’ll need to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which costs between 0.5% and 1% of the value of your home every year, split apart into monthly payments.

You can only have PMI removed when you reach 20% equity in your home, so you could end up paying thousands of dollars in insurance fees. It may be wise to wait a year or two to save up a down payment, rather than spend money on insurance costs.

4. Understand Your Costs

The down payment isn't the only cost you will have to consider when looking for a home. Here's a look at some of the main costs you will have to cover:

5. You Should Still Have 3-6 Months Of Emergency Expenses After Buying A Home

We highly recommend that you have an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses put away – even after paying a 20% down payment. It’s not a good idea to spend all of your savings on a down payment.

An emergency fund gives you a bit of cushioning against job loss, unexpected medical expenses, and other events that may put pressure on your finances. Having this buffer in place ensures you’ll be at lower risk of losing your home or falling behind on other monthly payments.

6. Consider Your Lifestyle and Budget

The idea of becoming a homeowner is exciting, but don't let yourself be carried away. Try to keep your needs, lifestyle, and budget into account when shopping around. A big suburban house may look dreamy, but if it also means a longer commute to work, then you may not like it as much as you imagine. Instead, try to consider a townhome that is spacious enough for a family but also provides easy access to amenities. Make sure to consider other costs too, such as homeowners association fees, which may add up in your monthly expenses.

7. Prove That You Are Serious about Home Buying

A pre-approval mortgage letter is an offer from a lender that agrees to lend you a certain amount of money under certain requirements. This letter can show sellers that you are serious about purchasing a home and make negotiations easier.

8. Hire a Professional Inspector

You think you've found the perfect house - it's in the right neighborhood, it's within the budget, and it only needs minor repairs. Before you sign anything, hire a professional to do a thorough inspection of the structure and mechanical aspects of the home. The standard inspection may miss important issues and it usually doesn't test for problems like mold, pest, or radon. This extra step could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.

9. Explore Your Mortgage Options

Knowing what types of loans are out there and understating their advantages and weak points will make it easier for you to negotiate with the lender and find something that fits your needs and budget. When analyzing each mortgage option, you should consider:

Don’t be overwhelmed by the various options. An experienced loan officer will be able to explain which types of loans you qualify for and guide you towards the option that may best fit your needs.

Are you a first-time home buyer? Need to know more? Click here for more information from CSMC Mortgage, and learn everything you need to know. Ready to get pre-qualified for a loan? We can help with that, too. Just contact us online or give us a call at (805) 212-7710 to speak to one of our team members.

“Laura Hertz is the best lender I've ever worked with in my 25 years as a Realtor. I never have to worry that she has things handles and she always performs in the best way possible. I also know that she is an advocate for my buyers and not only does she meet their expectations but she exceeds them! She is my lender for life!”

- Paula K.

“Mark, Darci & Co were wonderful to work with! They were responsive, managed a complex buying situation with ease, incredibly communicative and always ensured I was caught up with what was going on and where I was in the process. Heavily recommend!”

- Zach J.

“Darci, Mark and their team of professionals made the purchase for our amazing buyers absolutely seamless. The level of service they provide is second to none! They delivered the best rate and the best terms for the clients. Mark and Darci are very transparent with their fees and have a stellar reputation in the community. I highly recommend Darci and Mark for all your mortgage needs!”

- Gabby G.

“ Mario provided excellent service. Not only was he professional and helpful, but the personal support and reliability was something hard to find these days. I will not be using anyone else and have confidently referred him to friends and family.”

- Heather C.

“CSMC is always our go to lender. Denise Bizzy is fabulous. She really went the extra mile trouble shooting solutions to problems our client had. I do not believe another lender would have been able to pull this off. Five stars for the A+ service from Denise Bizzy and CSMC Mortgage!”

- Mark L.

“Faye helped me purchase my first home last year. She was very professional and worked very quickly to help me procure financing. She made herself available around my schedule and took the time to explain my options for financing to help me get the lowest rate possible. Would highly recommend her to anyone looking for someone that is professional, highly knowledgeable, polite, and responsive.”

- James Z.

“ My experience is always fantastic & seamless. Mayen Grigorian is a true professional. He’s honest, he goes above and beyond, he’s efficient, always available and knowledgeable. I never have to call for updates he beats me to it and sends updates regarding the loan. Our clients are very happy and we’re very happy! Five star service, I can’t say enough good things about Mayen as a person and a professional. Hands down! He’s The Best!”

- Taline S.

“This review is about Mark and Darci Richardson from CSMC Mortage in Simi Valley. This team is the BEST! For the past 12 years our home was "underwater" due to the "crash" in 2007, and unable to do anything with the mortgage except pay it. These two kept on top of things and finally the house qualified to REFI. We just completed everything and it closed last week... and they saved us over $900 a month!! That's a huge savings for a couple of senior citizens! We are SO happy now and finally can breathe. Thanks to Mark and Darci and CSMC Mortgage for following through, jumping through all the hoops necessary and helping us out! I can't recommend them more... they are the BEST!!!”

- Shari S.