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Navigating home buying: Essential tips for first-time buyers

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  • Are first-time home buyers on the decline?
  • Steps to buying a new house.
  • In 2022, 26% of houses in the US were bought by first-time buyers.

What are potential obstacles to buying a house? Lack of preparation might be on the list and that’s why, with the help of Rocket Mortgage®, we’re offering four essential tips for first-time buyers.

Save and improve your credit score

Last year, the average credit score in the United States was approximately 714. This is generally considered good, but first-time buyers may want to consider useful tools to increase their credit scores as much as possible in order to obtain benefits such as lower interest rates or a smaller down payment.

For those who have a long-term financial goal of buying a house, it’s advisable to start saving now, as good financial habits are key to tackling the expenses that come with buying a house.

Compare prices and assistance programs

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Establishing a realistic budget that takes into account your annual income and expenses is a solid starting point for determining how much you can afford to spend on a house. Be sure to include costs such as renovations, moving, utilities, inspection and down payment. You should also research home prices and availability in the area where you want to live.

Good news for first-time buyers is that the federal government has various assistance programs, including vouchers for home purchases, assistance with mortgage payments and government-backed loans. This can help buyers obtain better interest rates or lower down payments.

Choose a real estate agent

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Choosing a real estate agent is an important step for first-time buyers, as these professionals ensure that the home buying process is carried out not only legally, but also safely for all parties involved. Buying a house is an investment that represents a significant expense for many years — even decades — making the task of choosing a reliable real estate agent all the more important.

It is recommended that you ensure they are licensed to operate in the state where you will be buying a property. It is also ideal to ask for references, as hearing first-hand about their other clients’ experiences could prevent disagreements or misunderstandings in the future. Typically, a real estate agent charges a commission of about 3% of the total cost of the home and the seller usually pays this commission, along with their real estate agent’s commission. However, who pays what will be a part of the sale negotiations.

Get a mortgage preapproval letter

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A mortgage preapproval letter is an official document issued by a lender. It includes an estimated amount that you can qualify to borrow — taking into account your credit history and score, financial habits, tax history, account statements, annual salary and other data.

One of the advantages of having a preapproval letter is that it speeds up the process of establishing a budget, as the amount estimated by the lender will help to determine the maximum amount you can spend on a house. Having this document also helps ensure sellers that you will be able to complete the purchase quickly. Rocket Mortgage has important information about how to get a preapproval letter in this post.

In summary

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There are multiple tools to simplify the process of buying a house for the first time. Analyzing the state of the market and finding homes that fit your budget depends on factors such as mortgage preapproval, having a savings and the available financial assistance programs from the federal government.

Remember that on Rocket you will find a learning center where you can search for useful information about properties so you can find the perfect home for you and your family. We’re here to help you in this exciting process of achieving your housing goals.

Rocket Mortgage, LLC; NMLS #3030; Equal Housing Lender. Licensed in 50 states. For additional information please visit 

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