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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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5 Reasons Not to Skip Your Home Inspection

You found a house you love—hooray! But with lots of other buyers breathing down your neck, you feel like you need to act fast. To make your offer more attractive to the seller, you might be tempted to skip your home inspection, but here are five good reasons not to! 1.) Not all problems are obvious. It’s easy to spot issues like a crack in the sink or a broken light fixture. But do you know how to recognize foundation problems, termite infestations, outdated wiring, or sewer system problems? Trained home inspectors do and taking the time to have them go over the entire property before you sign the papers can prevent you from buying a headache instead of a home. BOTTOM LINE: The great thing about an inspection is that if you see major problems you’re unwilling to take on, you can change your mind and walk away. 2.) You may not be able to afford the repairs. If you’re like many new homeowners, you may not have much set aside to pay for needed repairs after saving up for your down payment and closing costs. While you may not mind waiting a bit to repaint or update appliances, waiting on problems like leaky roofs, broken plumbing, or infestations will only make them worse, and some issues, like broken furnaces, may need to be repaired right away. BOTTON LINE: You don’t want to go deep into debt to keep your home safe and comfortable. Instead, it’s worth negotiating with the seller to pay for repairs. If they refuse, you can simply walk away. 3. Some problems can make it harder to insure the home. Getting home insurance is essential because lenders need to see an insurance policy before you can close on your home—and of course, you’ll want to have your home protected in case anything goes wrong. However, some companies may decide that your home’s older electrical systems, plumbing, or building materials make it too risky to insure. BOTTON LINE: If essential updates are needed, the only choices are to ask the seller to pay for them, pay for them yourself if you can afford it, or walk away from the deal. 4. Serious issues can affect the resale value of the home. Your home is probably the biggest investment you will ever make. However, if it has major problems, instead of building your wealth, it could turn into a lousy investment that threatens your financial well-being. BOTTON LINE: While a home inspection typically costs a few hundred dollars, it’s an excellent investment in your peace of mind and financial health. 5. Some problems can threaten your family’s health or even your life. This sounds scary, but it’s no exaggeration. Issues like lead paint, black mold, radon (an odorless radioactive gas), or carbon monoxide leaks can cause serious and sometimes fatal health problems. BOTTON LINE: These issues are also easy to miss without a professional home inspection, and it’s simply not worth taking the risk. While it’s not easy to compete with other buyers who are bidding for the house you want, home inspections are one area where you don’t want to cut corners. To protect your physical, financial, and mental health, there’s no substitute for a professional home inspection.

6 Tips on How to Buy a House in Today's Market

Buying a home may be the American dream. But with escalating home prices, rising interest rates, low inventory, and inflation, as a first-time buyer, you may be wondering if that dream is out of reach.

Let's Talk FHA Loans

  If apartment living is getting old, or you've outgrown your parents' basement and house rules, you may be thinking about buying your own place. For this reason, you may be interested in learning about home loans that offer low and no-down payment options and have flexible lending requirements. One of these is the FHA loan. Let's take a closer look. 


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