BEGINNERS GUIDE: 5 steps owning your first home sweet home!

Ready to throw in the towel because home buying choices seem to be nonexistent?

It’s not a figment of your imagination. The availability of affordable homes is getting tougher to find, as Zillow reports homes sold at historically fast rates last year. Last June was one of the hottest home buying months in Boston with the average home only available for about 72 days.

One reason why inventory is so low is more people are remaining in their home, plus the foreclosure inventory that boomed years ago dried up, according to The New York Times.

Although house hunters are encountering a seller’s market, all hope is not lost. However, in order to score a home, you’ll need to bring your “A” game and be ready to pull the trigger when you find a home you like.

Before you head out to find a house you should have a list of “non-negotiables” such as a specific neighborhood or number of bedrooms. Conversely, develop a list of features that provide you with wiggle room. Perhaps you find your dream home, but it is located outside your desired neighborhood. Or the home in your number one neighborhood needs some renovations. Flexibility is key in a hot market.

While every homebuyer’s experience is unique there are a few moves all homebuyers should make to be successful in a tight market. Check out 5 steps that will set you up for success.

  1. Be honest with yourself

Even if you get pre-approved you for a killer amount of money, you don’t have to spend all that dough on a house. Dig deep and do some soul searching to determine what you can realistically afford. The last thing you want to do is be house poor and realize that you don’t own a home, the home owns you.

Not sure how to evaluate what you can (or can’t) afford? Check out these handy calculators that can provide you with that reality check.

  1. Check your credit

The better your credit, the lower your loan rate. If you haven’t done a credit check drive by in a while, contact a credit agency like Experian, Equifax or TransUnion to pull a free credit report. You are entitled to one free report per year.

Scrutinize your credit report for errors or inaccuracies. Even the smallest goof on the report can make an enormous difference on your ultimate mortgage rate.

  1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Before you hit the house hunting circuit, visit Community Credit union for a mortgage pre-approval.

Why? Because competition for well-priced homes is fierce, which means you need to show sellers you are a serious buyer. “You have to have a preapproval and it must be a real preapproval where the lender has verified not just your credit, but bank statements, tax returns — and I call the lender to verify that,” Patty Da Silva, real estate agent told Bankrate.

  1. Avoid getting sucked into the seller’s décor

During the house hunt, some buyers can’t get past the seller’s décor and miss an amazing home opportunity. From wall color and carpet to the seller’s furniture, unless you can imagine the home without the seller’s taste, you may find it nearly impossible to find home sweet home.

The walls are yellow or the carpet is brown, “so they say they won’t buy the place,” Matt Laricy, managing partner with Americorp Real Estate in Chicago told Bankrate. “Do you know how cheap it is to repaint a property? Are you really not going to buy the place because they put in brown carpet?”

Keep in mind, some updates are costlier than others. Paint and some elbow grease are cheap fixes. However, if you encounter a home with structural, roof or plumbing problems, you may want to consider unless you have the stomach (and money) for those repairs.

  1. Select a qualified mortgage lender

Finding the right mortgage lender is a bit like choosing a spouse.  You are hoping to form a relationship with that lender for decades (maybe even for 30 years) and you want someone with integrity who puts your best interests first.

In today’s cluttered mortgage market it can be difficult to discern which lender to trust. Some lenders lead with rate, which can be alluring, however some of those lenders sell your mortgage on the secondary market. That means you end up having your mortgage serviced by a company you didn’t choose.

You also want a lender who operates locally and bases loan decisions on more than just a few numbers. That’s right–some mortgage lenders actually get to know their borrowers and take more than a few scores into consideration when it comes to loan decisions.

If you are ready to move on a home make Community Credit Union your first stop. Our decisions are made locally, by people you already know and trust, plus we know the market is tough, so our decisioning process is faster than other lenders in the market.

We even offer a comprehensive first time homebuyers program and seminars, so we can be by your side from the beginning through the time you get the keys to your new home.

Ready to realize your dream of home ownership? Call one of our friendly mortgage professionals at 978-968-2200 or drop us an email at If you are ready to apply, so are we! Get started now.