First time’s

the charm.

Alright. Hand up if the home buying process feels tricky, tiresome, and downright overwhelming. Been there.

That’s why we’ve curated some tips for first-time home buyers to help you learn, understand, and secure home financing with confidence.


Mortgage myths: debunked. Key terms and fees: explained. The entire purchase process: laid out in plain English. Our First-Time Home Buyer’s Guide has it all and more.


The First-Time Home Buyer’s Guide You’ll Actually Enjoy Reading

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Mortgage 101

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Your ducks, in a row.

Before you start your path to homeownership, plan for it. That means compiling a list of needs and wants, finding a real estate agent you trust, and setting a realistic budget to help you understand what you can afford and where.

Pro tip.

Crunch numbers, get quotes.

This website is equipped with easy-to-use mortgage calculators to help you ballpark your budget. Our free rate quote form will put you in touch with one of our loan originators. They’re standing by to answer questions, provide recs, and walk you through the process.

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Your “Golden Ticket.”

A pre-approval gets you approved for a specific loan amount and comes with a certified pre-approval letter that makes you more attractive to sellers. To get it, we’ll run your credit and review other key financial details. We’ve got your budget covered, first-time home buyers. 

Pro tip.

Take care of your credit.

Review your credit report and clear up any concerns before submitting it for pre-approval. The better your credit, the better your terms. The better your terms, the more likely you’ll be to seal the deal on your dream home.

House Hunting
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Everybody’s favorite part.

Maybe you’ve noted a few “For Sale” signs in the neighborhood. Or maybe you’ve got a bunch of tabs open on your laptop. Either way, you’re now ready to start touring houses. Work closely with your real estate agent and keep that wants-and-needs list at the ready.

Pro tip.

Keep an even keel.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of big backyards and open concepts, but it’s important to be mindful of your budget both now and later. Be excited but also be realistic.

Lock & Appraise
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A great rate. A fair price.

So you’ve found your home, put in an offer, and the seller accepted. Congrats! Now it’s time to talk about loan options and rates with a loan originator. We’ll make sure you understand the big picture and the small details. Once your rate is locked and guaranteed, we’ll order an appraisal to make sure you’re getting a good deal on your home.

Pro tip.

Love your rate? Lock it.

House hunt taking a  little longer than expected? No worries. Rate Protect can help you lock in your rate while you shop. That way, you can focus on your search instead of market fluctuations. Get in touch with your loan originator to find out if you qualify.  

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Crossing t’s. Dotting i’s.

The underwriting process starts once your application has been submitted and your loan is locked. Our team of underwriters will analyze your financial details—including credit history, debt-to-income ratio, income, employment, etc.—to help protect you (and us) from unnecessary risk.

Pro tip.

Prep your paperwork.

The time it takes to underwrite your loan can vary, but preparing your pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, etc. ahead of time can go a long way in speeding up the process. Your loan originator will let you know everything you need and set you up for success.

Closing Time
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Almost home.

Once the seller accepts your offer, your lender will help you to tie up loose ends and finalize all the details. In the meantime, your new home will be appraised and inspected to make sure everything’s up to snuff. After that, you sign closing disclosures and pay closing costs. And after that? Keys.

Pro tip.

Set aside 6%.

Remember to set aside a chunk of money to cover your closing costs. You may be able to negotiate some costs or roll them into your monthly mortgage payments but plan to cover up to 6% of your loan’s value (just in case).

Down payments can be as low as 3%.

Contrary to popular belief, down payments don’t have to be 20% of your total loan value. In fact, some loans require as little as 3% down for those who qualify.

Credit scores as low as 580 may qualify.

Perfect credit is great to have, but it’s not a requirement for homeownership. Depending on your loan product and other variables, 580 could do the trick.

Closing costs are generally 3-6% of your loan value.

Your down payment and closing costs are not one and the same. Closing costs are paid near the end of the process and can range from 3 to 6% of your total loan value.

Crunch the numbers. Set your budget.

Enter a few key home details, including your estimated home price, down payment, and interest rate. Get a breakdown of your estimated monthly mortgage payment.

Ready to start your homeownership journey?

Take the first step today with a free rate quote.