When preparing to buy a home, the first thing many homebuyers do is look at the real estate ads in newspapers, magazines and listings on the Internet. Some potential buyers read how-to articles like this one. The next thing you should do - before you call on an ad, before you talk to a REALTOR®, before you shop for interest rates - is look at your savings.
Because determining how much money you have available for down payment and closing costs affects almost every aspect of buying a home - including how you write your purchase offer, the loan programs you qualify for, and shopping for interest rates.
If you only have enough available for a minimum down payment, your choices of loan program will be limited to only a few types of mortgages. If someone is giving you a gift for all or part of the down payment, your options are also limited. If you have enough for the down payment, but need the lender or seller to cover all or part of your closing costs, this further limits your options. If you borrow all or a portion of the down payment from your 401K or retirement plan, different loan programs have different rules on how you qualify.
Of course, if you have enough for a large down payment, then you have lots of choices.
Your loan choices include such varied programs as conventional fixed rate loans, adjustable rate mortgages, buydowns, VA, FHA, graduated payment mortgages and all the varieties of each.
Shopping for Rates
A very important reason you need to have at least some idea of your down payment is for shopping for interest rates. Some loan programs charge a slightly higher interest rate for minimal down payments. Plus, the interest rates for different loan programs are not the same. For example, conventional, VA, and FHA all offer fixed rate loans. However, the rates vary from one program to another.
If you shop lenders by phone, the loan officer will be able to tell you which programs fit and quote your rates accordingly. However, if you are shopping on the Internet, you have to develop some idea of your loan program on your own.
Writing Your Offer
Another reason you need to have a clue about your down payment is because it affects how you write your offer to purchase a home. Not only are you required to put your down payment information in the offer, but also different loan programs have different rules that also affect how you write your offer. This is especially important when dealing with FHA and VA loans.
If you are asking the seller to pay all or part of your closing costs, you have to be certain your loan program allows what you are asking. For smaller down payments, lenders allow the seller to pay less closing costs than for larger down payments. Some loan programs will allow a seller to pay certain types of costs, but not others.
Finally, your down payment also affects your ability to qualify for a loan. When you make a small down payment, lenders are fairly strict about having you conform to their underwriting guidelines. For larger down payments, they will tend to make allowances or exceptions to the rules.
As you can see, the down payment affects every choice you make when you buy a home. Although you should look at ads, familiarize yourself with neighborhoods, learn about prices, and read as much as you can - when you get ready to take action - the first thing you should do is figure out how much money you have available for the purchase.
We have had a working relationship with George Kammerer for over two years. We first met him when he showed us a rental property. He was immediately warm and welcoming, and the experience was like we were being shown around by a friend. Over the next 2 years he continued to help us as we looked into transitioning from renters to homeowners. He was always quick to answer any questions we had, show us properties, and educate us on the next steps to take and refer us to reputable companies. He always went above and beyond for us even when he wasn't getting anything in return, and we are so thankful and grateful that he helped educate us and send us to the right people. We ultimately purchased the same rental property that he showed us 2 years ago, and we wouldn't have gotten there without his help, guidance, and expertise! George is friendly and knowledgeable without being pushy or condescending. He knows the area well and will go above and beyond to help you find what you are looking for. I would work with him again and 100% recommend using him for your home buying needs!Joel & Jessica Bowman
If you are moving locally or from out of state, do yourself the biggest favor ever and engage the services of George Kammerer. George's knowledge of the area is unsurpassed, and guided us to an area that we described we were interested in living and suited our specific needs. Since we were moving from out of state, the timing was critical that we could coordinate our time and George's to the maximum. He also is remarkably quick to respond to any email or text that you submit. He is the first realtor [we've used] that truly wants his clients to be happy! He asks questions that are relevant to finding the house that you expect to find within the price range that you specify....George does not "push" nor does he "fast talk" you into making a hasty decision. He is a very patient man and has a background that can assist you in answering questions you may have while reviewing a home. I believe my husband and I are "sort of picky" and we would rate George a 5+ in every area shown above.Ruth VonDreau
We worked with George in selling our home (which was a great experience), so having him help us buy our next home was a no-brainer. He was always available to us, and would hunt down information we felt important in the listings we were viewing. His expertise in the area, especially Chattanooga, was very helpful and allowed us to finally choose a home for our family. We would highly recommend his services.Ralph & Jennifer Hairsine
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