Loan considerations for a first time buyer
Lending guidelines are changing on a daily basis for every type of loan: conventional, FHA, VA & commercial. Nevertheless, there are still very attractive first-time home buyer options available. If you are or will be a first-time buyer, it is critical to speak with a loan officer before looking at homes. It is a crushing feeling to view a home, picture making it your own and then find out that you cannot qualify to purchase it. A loan officer will pull credit, analyze debt-to-income ratios, review assets and income and determine what you can afford.
Presuming a pre-qualification occurs, the loan officer will then be able to provide an array of loan options. Presently, FHA loans are the predominant loan for first-time home buyers as they offer flexibility with down payment, income and assets. In 2009, FHA loans will require a 3.5% down payment; however, such funds can be a gift from friend or family member. Additionally, pending on where the home is purchased, many cities still offer down payment monies to assist borrowers with little or nothing down. There is even a program that permits someone to purchase a home for as little as $100. Please keep in mind that when a borrower does not make a down payment, their interest rate will likely be higher, since it the loan will have greater perceived risk.
Conventional loans are very comparable to FHA loans in loan terms and fees. They can be more restrictive with down payment options, debt ratios and alternative forms of credit. But, they require less paperwork than FHA loans, which typically means a smoother underwriting process. Furthermore, they do not require an up-front mortgage insurance premium like FHA loans ---- although, their monthly premiums are higher than FHA. FHA, conventional and VA loans are in the low 6% range on 30 year fixed mortgages with no prepayment penalties. These rates, coupled with lower prices make it an opportune time to purchase real estate.
Overall, there are pros and cons to each option. As a first-time buyer start thinking through such factors as: what payment you would be comfortable in making, how much money you can put down, establishing a contingency plan for a job loss, how much you would like saved for unexpected expenses and if you were relocated or forced to sell how would handle the situation?