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FAQs for First Time Home Buyers

Buying a home is most likely the largest purchase you'll ever make. And like any big investment, you need to understand the process so that you can make informed, intelligent decisions regarding your financial future.


If you’re like most people, you probably have a ton of questions, some of which you might think are too basic or silly to ask. But remember, as the old adage goes, there are no dumb questions. Let's take a look at some of the questions we get from first-time homebuyers.  

woman looking at laptop


How do I figure out how much house I can afford?

This really is the key question, and it will affect your life every single day after you close on your home, especially if you miscalculated.  Your mortgage broker can help you with some of these calculations, but you also need to do your homework and prepare your personal budget. Keep ALL costs in mind when looking at your house budget: maintenance on a home, property taxes and insurance, and all of your other bills. If you’re stretching yourself too thin, you’re likely headed for disaster.


As a general rule, a mortgage should not take up more than 25 to 30% of your net income. This includes homeowners insurance and taxes. Another school of thought is that the cost of your home should not be more than two and a half times your net annual salary. It's better to have a smaller house and still have room to breathe financially. Because let's face it, you have other monthly obligations and you want to have wiggle room for unexpected expenses (a new frig, carpet cleaning) and the ability to order in pizza on Friday night.

Read more about steps to buying your first home.


Do I pay my Realtor®?

During my house hunt, I was always worried I was going to be handed a bill at the end of it all for our realtor’s time and expertise. I was happy to learn that normally the seller pays the Realtor’s fees, since there is a contract between seller and agent. When the seller pays all the Realtor’s fees associated with selling the home, the seller pays the Realtor’s brokerage and the brokerage distributes the earned commission to all the parties involved which generally includes the buyer’s agent.


How long does it take to buy a house?

Longer than you think. This is not an easy question to answer because every home sale is truly different. After you finally find a home you want to buy and your offer is accepted, it can typically take 30 – 45 days to close on your loan. So, if it takes 4 months to find a home you like, it will take probably another 2 months to close.  


Is there a difference between an appraisal and an inspection?

Yes. A home inspector is usually confused with a real estate appraiser. A home inspector determines the condition of a structure, whereas an appraiser determines the value of a property. You will most likely need both when buying your first home, and you’ll be paying for both as well.


Are there other questions you have that you’re afraid to ask?  Don’t be!  The more informed you are as a buyer, the easier your future will be.  If you’d like us to address any other questions just post them below and we’ll get you an answer! In the meantime, check out our " Get Mortgage Ready Guide" , and happy house hunting!



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Jill Perney
Jill Perney
Jill Perney is the Marketing Analyst for AmeriFirst Home Mortgage. After a decade working in the non-profit arts sector, Jill has mastered the art of wearing many hats and multitasking – including such wide ranging tasks as managing ticket sales, marketing, analytics, fundraising, and more. Jill is mother to an animal obsessed 3 year old daughter, and enjoys cooking, knitting, reading, and traveling.

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